I am stressed out. As I mentioned last week, I found out a little more than a week and a half ago that my family is moving to Texas in a week and a half, and I’ve barely started packing. I spent the first few days finishing preparations for JP’s birthday party, and my husband and I (and four awesome friends on a Saturday) spent the week after that painting our house neutral colors (seven rooms and one deck–thankfully three of those rooms only had one wall each to do), patching sixteen cracks with three layers of joint compound, and preparing our house to be photographed to be put on the market. I’m still finding flecks of paint in my hair and cleaning compound dust out of rags. We’re now preparing for a garage sale in a few days, and we’re doing a little packing while we do that.
How do you handle stress? I wish I could say I handle it with grace and love for all around me. I don’t. I start snapping at Greg, I have a shorter patience fuse with my kids, and I either do nothing useful while feeling intensely guilty, or I run around working non-stop (to make up for my inactivity) until I feel ready to crash from exhaustion. And I expect Greg to do the same–the working non-stop part, not the inactive or impatient part. Then I dissolve into tears, hug Greg and ask him to forgive me for once again taking out my stress on him. I apologize to my kids with less drama because I don’t want them to think they need to start parenting ME.
When I act like this in response to my stress, I deserve to have others be angry at me, to resent me for my bad behavior. I deserve God’s punishment and sternness. I expect it.
Instead I get grace.
When I ask Greg to forgive me, instantly his face softens, and he holds me, telling me he forgives me. My kids genially say, “I forgive you, Mama.” And God forgives me, too!
He gives me grace.
Like when somebody contacted me about buying my sliding glass pet door the other day. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but let me tell you about this pet door. I have been trying to get rid of this tall, unwieldy, breakable thing for several years now. We haven’t needed it for a long time now, so I tried to sell it at a garage sale. No takers. I put it on a Facebook selling page, only to be ridiculed for putting it up in a group that was a bit more high class than I realized. I put it up on Craig’s List but heard nothing. It’s now been about a year since I did that–I didn’t even know it was still up on the Facebook site, which has since become more mainstream–and a woman contacted me that she wanted to buy it, now of all times, right when I really wanted to get rid of that thing. When I met up with her, she didn’t even seem to really need it (it was the wrong size for one of her pets), but she bought it anyway.
Like when friends contact me to help me with painting or watching our kids or helping us pack.
Like when I’m able to run without hamstring pain when I need stress relief.
Like when I was overwhelmed with the thought of moving to Texas before we knew for sure we’d be moving, and I contacted the Texas branch of the same co-op homeschooling community I’m a part of here to see if they might still have openings in that small town we’d be moving. The director wrote back in minutes to tell me there would definitely be openings for my three children, and that she’d be excited to have us. Instant community and such encouragement! I’ve seen since then that the director normally responds quickly, but not within minutes. However, the day when I needed it so much, I had my answer right away.
Like when I jokingly told Greg that the small town to which we’re moving might be ok, but did it have that certain pizza chain that he and I really love–the place we have only been able to visit in California? He immediately looked it up, and yes, indeed. This small town might not have Costco or Trader Joe’s, but it does have that particular pizza place.
Oh, and by the way, if you’re from the Bay Area you’ll understand this–you know those huge oak trees that dot the golden hills in Northern California? My favorite trees? Yes, apparently this tiny town, bordered on one side with a town filled with pines (not one of my favorites yet) and on the other side with desert (not another favorite) is filled with giant oaks on rolling grassland.
He floods me with grace. I don’t deserve it. None of us do, of course–that’s why it’s called grace! But “He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust…But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children” (Psalm 103:14,17).