“Your children don’t need you to be perfect, they need you to love them.”
Those words from Sally Clarkson were reverberating in my mind, my house full of rambunctious kiddos.
I was struggling. I mean really, truly struggling emotionally and mentally. I had so much rage I couldn’t stop crying. Everything was frustrating and angering. And I couldn’t get my emotions under control. By nap time, I had just given up. That means, I’d cried a few more times and decided to watch Anne of Green Gables with the kids and then take a walk outside.
I gave up any semblance of perfection (i.e. resorting to TV), and just took time to love my littles, snuggling on the couch, melting our prefrontal cortexes a little by watching TV. (Which is not my usual) I regret nothing.
What kept bouncing around in my head during that time was, “God, if I have Your Holy Spirit in me, why am I struggling so much!? Where are You- I need YOU!”
And it was as if as soon as I allowed myself to vocalize that dependence upon the Lord, He showed up. And I had His peace. Yeah, I was still a little emotionally tender and sad, but the anger left. I had been trying to control, and respond in my own strength, and my strength had run out. I was depleted.
I thought about Elijah…
How he did a mighty work by God’s power in defeating the prophets of Baal. But then what?
Then Elijah became afraid and immediately ran for his life. When he came to Beer-sheba that belonged to Judah, he left his servant there, but he went on a day’s journey into the wilderness. He sat down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. He said, “I have had enough! Lord , take my life, for I’m no better than my fathers.” Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. Suddenly, an angel touched him. The angel told him, “Get up and eat.” Then he looked, and there at his head was a loaf of bread baked over hot stones, and a jug of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the Lord returned for a second time and touched him. He said, “Get up and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.” So he got up, ate, and drank. Then on the strength from that food, he walked 40 days and 40 nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.
1 Kings 19:3-8 HCSB
Running for his life after such a spiritual high, Elijah was completely spent! He had nothing left. He was ready to die, “God, if this is what the rest of my life is going to be like, just take me home! I’m done with this!” I’ve thought that a time or two.
But God didn’t take him yet. He wasn’t finished using Elijah. So instead, he allowed Elijah to rest. Really rest. He fed him, let him sleep, and an angel touched him. Twice, this happened. And after that, he was recharged enough to go on for over a solid month to Horeb to meet with God.
When was the last time I sat down to eat a meal, slowly, without rushing on to my next task? When was the last time I let myself nap? Or do something frivolous? When was the last time I actually was still in God’s presence, listening for Him to speak?
I’m not perfect. I don’t have it all together. I don’t “do it all,” I barely make it through the “have to’s.”
I felt like Elijah. I’d used up all my stores of physical, mental, and emotional strength. The needs of my physical body were outweighing my ability to keep going any further. I needed rest. I needed God’s power and presence. And I hadn’t made space for either of those things in too long.
The littles helped me to shift my perspective from my struggles to my Savior. And when I cried out to Him, He met me in my exhaustion and depletion, and He gave me rest and peace.