Tuesday, January 24, 2012

To Carpe Diem or not to Carpe Diem? That is the Question.

Alot of people have been posting Glennon Melton's article "Don't Carpe Diem" and giving her a cyber high five for her well penned words on Chronos vs. Kairos times in parenting.

I've been praying and thinking about this blog post for days now, because it is not my intention to contradict a mother, or say something bad. But I know that what I am going to say, can be taken as just that. Please understand that my intentions are good, and while I agree with Melton's article, I only agree to a certain point. Overall, while her article left other moms shouting, "Amen! That's Me!" it left me sad, depressed, and hopeless, because while I can say, "Yes, that is me." I don't want that to be me. And it took a couple of days of digging into my soul to understand why.

Just like Melton said, not everything about parenting is wonderful. Not every moment feels like a moment to enjoy, or relish, or even remember.

However, in her article, Melton returns the suggestion, "Enjoy every moment. I know I did," with a question; "Are you sure you enjoyed every moment? Are you sure you don't mean you love having parented?"
Now this is where I think she goes terribly wrong. This is where my depression and sadness set in.

I am left feeling hopeless.

According to Melton, for the next 18 years, the most I can hope for is one or two moments, here and there, that are enjoyable. The rest is going to be misery, but at the end I will have loved that I was miserable with only a handful of good moments, for 28 years of my life?

She says, this is what works for her.

Now don't get me wrong, I can relate. Just read my last post here, if you have any doubts. I have horrible awful moments. Last night was one, when I came in to the kids' room to find that in cleaning all they did was stuff everything in their closet, in corners, under dressers and beds and out of the middle of the floor. I wanted to scream in my frustration!

I have hard moments when I am trying to get through the day of school work and all they do is play, thus prolonging my day!

I get irritated when the baby is screaming to be fed while I make lunch for the other kids and I am so hungry my hands are shaking and I feel like I'm going to pass out.

There are bad moments. For every mother. For every person.

It is true of every person, in every walk of life, not just parenting.

Working in a job, for other people, is hard. Bosses are not always kind, understanding or even reasonable.

Being a student can become frustrating as the assignments are piled on higher and higher.

Marriage is difficult when it turns out that a lifetime of love between two imperfect people is not as the romance movies and novels portray.

All walks of life have their difficulties and parenting is the mother of them all. But if we look to God's word we find that enjoying just select "good" moments in all walks of life, is not Biblical.

The problem with Melton's stand on  enjoying and being grateful in Chronos vs. Kairos time, is this is not how God commanded us to live life. He did not ask us to be thankful only when the moment is good. He did not ask us to praise Him only when we receive "good" blessings. He did not ask us to rejoice only when our life is a bed of roses and perfect and peachy. In fact, He asks us more often to praise Him, thank Him, rejoice and find joy in the most difficult times in our lives. Yes, even in Chronos time.

In Philippians 4:4, Paul tells the people in Philippi,
"Rejoice in the Lord, when every thing is good, ALWAYS; again I will say, rejoice!"

Paul didn't say, rejoice in Kairos time. He didn't say, rejoice for our children when you realize how beautiful they are. He didn't say, be thankful for your family at the end of the day when they are no longer bothering you and you can think clearly.

Paul said ALWAYS.

It's hard. It's a discipline. And if you are human, you won't ALWAYS be able to rejoice. You will have to discipline yourself to do so.

But here is a better way to understand parenting in the difficult chronos time, so that one day you won't look back and regret having wished it all away counting down the minutes until dad gets home or school starts so you can escape your misery. Instead you will find joy in what once made you miserable, and peace in what once brought about chaos.

Rejoicing doesn't mean you have to always be happy. Having joy doesn't mean you say, "Yay! I'm so happy that my daughter jumped off the roof and broke her legs. What a fantastic day!"

Rejoicing means you give credit where credit is due.

It means saying in those difficult moments, "God, right now I want to pinch her head off for writing on every wall and every piece of furniture with a permanent marker. (TRUE STORY!) So please, help me to calm down and not injure your precious child verbally, emotionally, mentally, or physically, and to find some way to rejoice as I scrub the walls with magic eraser and furniture with alcohol for the next 3 or 4 hours."

When that little old lady tells you, "Enjoy every moment," I understand what she means.

The newborn days are so hard and seem so endless. Yet, one day you wake up, and your 4lb preemie is looking at you eye to eye and you wonder where the last 10 years have gone. And your heart breaks so much that your body will physically ache.

At that moment you can decide that you are so glad those days are over and you never want to do them again, yet you are glad you did them.

Or, before that day comes, you can choose every day to rejoice, in every moment and every difficult situation. You can choose, even as you are screaming at the top of your lungs for just one person to pick up the Lego you have stepped on ten times and asked to be picked up at least a hundred times, to rejoice.

Then you can look back and not feel you have wasted even one minute, because even when it was excruciatingly painful, and horrible and awful, you chose to do what God asks of us; rejoice and again, rejoice!

I will leave you with the story I read a long time ago. I don't know where, or who, but I will never forget it. It causes me to count my blessings in every frustrating moment.

A man and woman tried for years to have a baby without any success. Their hearts ached and longed for a baby, yet God did not bless them with even one. The pain of their empty arms was so great, it was difficult to face a world that included children.

But after years of waiting, they were finally given the blessing they had longed for for so long.

Two children. Two very precious children joined the couple and made them a family.

The years went by, and the mother experienced all the pains of mothering. She knew and lived the frustration and endless days and difficulty of parenting.

One day, her child had found the grape jelly and proceeded to enjoy a little treat without mom's knowledge.
Once all the fun had been had, the little one went on about his business, playing throughout the house, leaving the sticky, grapey evidence all throughout every room.

The mother said that as she worked to clean the jelly, frustrated and exhausted and angry, she realized there was a day that she would have given anything to have her house covered in tiny, grape jelly, hand prints. And now, she was blessed by those little hand prints. She thanked God for them, and even decided to leave a few around the house to remind her of what she almost missed out on. She saw the joy in the problem because she knew the true blessing was the child, not the hand prints.

That is how you rejoice in the moments of chaos.

Even my parents, have permanent marker on their newly painted walls from a recent visit from the Mykytiuk mob. My mother said they considered framing the artwork on their wall because it was precious to them. That is how you rejoice in the difficult moments.

My college roommate is one of my favorite mothers, and I often long to be just like her as a mother. She says, I don't know what we will do today, but we're going to have fun doing it! And, even when nothing goes quite like it should, she rejoices and has fun.

God has a way of pouring out his peace when we do what He asks, rather than trying to find an easier shortcut way to live life, if we just let Him.

Philippians 4:4-9 is a perfect remedy for making the most of your chronos time. He says to pray and ask Him in times of trouble, rather than worrying and becoming anxious. He says to give Him thanks in times of anxiousness. Paul tells us, "The Lord is near."

When you are angry, frustrated, and at the end of your rope, Dear Mother, the Lord is near. Rejoice! You are not trying to create responsible adults from tyrannical toddlers all alone!

What will happen if you admit you cannot do it alone? If you admit that you want to enjoy every moment of life and not just a handful?  You might be able to stop screaming at kids all day long, because God will give you peace in EVERY. SINGLE. MOMENT.

 "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus...The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:7 & 9