Perspective is a funny thing. When you’re in the middle of a stressful situation (like we were a couple weeks ago with our Travel Lodge Adventure from Hell) it seems like you’re having the worst luck, the worst day, and nothing in your life is the way you want it to be.
Usually, after you’ve made it through to the other side, you can look back and recognize it wasn’t that bad. Or maybe it was pretty bad, but it all worked out okay in the end and now you can have a good laugh about it.
And sometimes, when you’re in the middle of your own drama, you are made aware of someone else’s difficult situation and that’s when you realize you are a selfish, self-absorbed, spoiled brat.
Which is exactly what happened to me this past week.
Y’all know the saga of our travel attempts over the past month. (Well, you know part of the story – I haven’t actually finished the post I was working on about our second Football Weekend.) It has been incredibly stressful. Incredibly exhausting. Incredibly expensive. And I’ve been feeling incredibly frustrated by everything going on in my life lately.
In addition to all the travelling for football, dance, Prairie Flower rehearsals, etc., I’ve also been trying to get everyone on a regular schedule for school work, meals, farm work, work that actually pays the bills … blah, blah, blah. And none of it has been working out to my satisfaction. Far, far, far, far from my satisfaction. I’m. so. dissatisfied. with. the. way. things. are. going. right now.
So the other morning, I was thinking about all the things I needed to do, all the places we had to go, all the stuff I’m not accomplishing on a daily basis and just generally feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, a little angry and upset. And I got a very stern and humbling notice from my Father, telling me what an ungrateful snot I was being. I mean, He didn’t use those exact words, but I definitely got the message.
You see, on the previous Friday night (while we were spending a great evening watching our son make his Varsity debut) high school friends had rushed their teenage son to the hospital with a traumatic brain injury that had occurred during his high school football game.
I’d actually heard about this on the Friday night it happened and I’d been praying faithfully for his recovery, his family, since then. He was in a medically induced coma in the hopes that his inter-cranial pressure would go down, signalling that his brain was healing. It was heartbreaking. As the mom of a teenage son who also plays football – well, I could only imagine what his parents were going through.
So on this morning when I logged on to Facebook with the express intention of posting about how overwhelmed I was feeling – how frustrated I was feeling about my busy life and all the activities we were trying to get kids to and from … someone else’s post caught my eye. The school where my friend taught – where her son went to school and played football – posted notice of a prayer vigil for their friend and teammate.
I thought about my friends and their son who was fighting for his life. I thought about how I had prayed so fervently for God’s healing intervention to come over this young man. And how I had cried tears of sadness that this happened to someone’s child … then cried tears of relief that it had not happened to my child.
So. I did not post about my own troubles that morning. Because I realized I don’t really have troubles. I have situations that are inconvenient and a little frustrating, but that will resolve themselves without too much issue in the near future. I am not experiencing real pain or real grief – the kind of pain and grief that makes you fall to your knees and beg God’s mercy and grace. I’m a little behind on getting my kids’ school schedule rolling in the right direction. Barely even a deal – let alone a big deal.
It was while I was feeling so ashamed of my own selfishness that I recalled a conversation I’d had with a friend earlier in the month …
She told me she had been spending a lot of time thinking about all the ways she and her husband were different and how sometimes (just sometimes) when they don’t go about things the same way it’s a little … um … irritating.
She said to me, ‘I don’t want to fight or argue with him. I don’t want that to be our marriage – arguing about little things that don’t matter. But how do I stop those little things from bothering me?’ And then she went on to explain how a Bible study she’d been doing provided her a philosophy that’s been helping her adjust her perspective. And not just her perspective in her marriage … oh no – she’s been applying this idea to every aspect of her life from dealing with business issues to her walk with the Lord. After I heard what she said, I decided to try it myself.
Less of me, more of You.
Less of me picking at all the things you’re doing differently than I do. Less of me worrying over little things that don’t matter in the great scheme of things. Less of me feeling like my problems are the only problems that matter anywhere. More of You. More of You talking and me listening. More of You trying to help and me recognizing that’s what you’re doing.
It’s so simple! So powerful. When we put others before ourselves and shift our perspective away from our own troubles, it’s just amazing how small our own problems begin to seem.
That’s what happened to me the other morning … I began to think about my friends and their son; about another friend who had recently lost her father; another friend who was injured in a car accident and experiencing big financial problems. As my thoughts roamed over every person I know (and honestly, I don’t know that many people but it seems so many of them are really struggling right now) and the situations I knew many of them were dealing with, my own ‘stuff’ seemed so silly.
Examples of my lack of gratitude:
‘Waaahhh! I have to put gas in the tank of my car that runs really well and is in good shape and drive my perfectly healthy son to football practice in another town so he can play a game for fun with his friends.’ *Why am I not feeling so fortunate to have the cash to buy the gas? The reliable transportation? The opportunities for my son?
‘Oh, poor me! I’m so lucky to have enough money in the bank that I have to sit for a while and pay all my bills.’ *Again … I have money to pay my bills. Why am I complaining?
‘My life is so hard. I have beautiful, healthy children who I am teaching at home so I get to spend more time with them.’ *Seriously. I actually whined about being able to provide this kind of educational experience for our kids.
Can you believe my selfishness?? I sure couldn’t! I was awash with embarrassment. But the more I focused my thoughts and prayers on others, the better I felt. Lighter. More content. Grateful. So profoundly grateful.
So. My life is still extremely busy – for me. I’m just not a go-go-go Mama by nature and this is a struggle for me. But I’m focusing deliberately on what a blessing this is — I’m going outside my comfort zone to help my kids step outside their’s so they can grow Less of me and my inconvenience, more of them and their needs.
I’m sure there will still be many, many moments over the coming months and years where I get all caught up in my own drama and lose my perspective. But I’m working really hard at remembering ‘less of me, more of you’ every time I start getting wound up.
It’s a process, but one that I think is well worth going through. I want to be the person who is grateful for her life and all the things that are going on in it. I do not want to be the person who is known for constantly complaining about every little thing that isn’t going her way. Less of me. More of You. Try it, I think you’ll like it.
Love & Blessings,
That Farm Mama