I finally let myself say it.
I've been waiting for someone else to say it. Another mom. Another missionary. Anyone really.
But no one ever did. They'd say, "Wow, how do you do it?" or watch while I fumble--oh how I fumble--at trying to control screaming, whining, disobedient children, be a “good” missionary, maintain my sanity.
A house full of sinners just like me.
And all the while I kept thinking, "I don't know how I do it. I just know I do because I don't have a choice." I have been in survival mode for months now and I just wanted someone to take my stubborn, I-won't-ask-for-help-but-please-offer-it-and-I’ll-take-it-in-a-hartbeat hand and say, "It's ok. This thing you're doing, it's hard work."
I wanted permission to feel overwhelmed and burnt out. I wanted to hear that this "if-I-can-just-get-through-the-day" mentality is normal at times—or almost always—and does eventually pass.
But no one ever said that. Which in my mind just confirmed that something was wrong. I should be able to do this with a smile on my face and patience in my voice.
Then I read this book and I felt the greatest sense of relief because finally someone said it.
This is hard, overwhelming, exhausting work.
And I'm doing just fine.
I'm doing just fine because I realize I can't do it right on my own. And I'm learning—learning to lean on the One who can make all things right and new.
There are days I can muster up just enough strength to get out of bed after a long night with my one year old who still wants to nurse and stumble to the kitchen as I remind my whining, apparently famished older children that, yes, they will get breakfast this morning, just like every morning.
I go through my days of washing dishes piled high and sweeping the floors for the umpteenth time and wiping noses and settling disputes and running to grab the laundry off the line because its starting to rain again. Somewhere in there I mean to sit down and practice the alphabet with my oldest and work on numbers again with my boy, but my littlest is tired and now it's time for lunch and I need to pump more water and my washer is beeping at me and a family of Indians just showed up and well, I'll just remind myself that my kids won't be 30 years old and not know their numbers and letters.
I look at my life and remind myself of this:
Raising little humans is hard work.
Being a wife is hard work.
Living in the jungle is complicated, hard, exhausting work.
Constantly thinking and speaking in your second or third language is mentally exhausting.
Adopting a child out of birth order, with a traumatic past, and that doesn't speak your first language is exponentially challenging.
Rarely getting to speak to or see family and friends is emotionally taxing.
Living in another culture is frustrating, lonely, exhausting at times.
Now take all these and add them up and you get a messy, tiring, hard job.
So I'm trying to lighten up a little myself. Let myself mess up every now and then [or often, as the case may be] and rather than beat myself up over it, I'm learning to slide back under that umbrella of grace and say, "Thank you, Jesus, that your mercies are new every day and that your grace endures forever".
I'm so thankful that God is sovereign and that He has a plan for my children, my husband, and me that can't be thwarted. I can freely acknowledge my incompetence and failures and it is in that freedom that I find the motivation to try again.
To lean on the One who makes all things new.
To let my failures be growing moments instead of defeating mountains.
To trust Him as he takes me through the fire to make me pure as gold.
To stop worrying about what others think and say, because God knows me.
God knows me.
This is hard work. Just like Jesus promised it would be.
But oh how sweet to know He also promised He'd walk us through it, patiently, lovingly, always.
Is it time you let yourself say it, too?
“For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
All my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.”