Our two-year-old had that 5-day stomach virus last week.
I’m grateful that she is feeling well again, but I’m completely wiped out. Five days of vomit and diarrhea, crankiness and clinginess, laundry and love took its toll on me. (I must say, though, that the major gushing episode at Trader Joe’s was an unexpected blessing. The management ran to my rescue, cleaned everything up, and covered our grocery bill. It was a bright spot in our week.)
When I’m down and out, I often add to my misery by identifying terrible things about myself. I’ve been doing this all week. Apparently, I like to fall asleep by counting all of the ways I’m failing at practically everything and need to improve in every area of life.
I thought I should cut myself a break. I thought I should stop the never-ending self-abasing list of could-do’s and should-do’s. But then I had to go and remember those famous lines from The Serenity Prayer.
Do you know this one?
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
When I have prayed this in the past, I’ve focused on entrusting “things that cannot be changed” to God’s care. Trusting God with the unknown and unreachable has always been a point of conviction and comfort to me. This week, however, I can’t get away from the request for “courage to change the things which should be changed”.
This week, as I’ve listed the many things that are stressing me out and as I’ve counted the things that need improvement, I’ve realized that the things on my list are not all theoretical or impossible.
There are actually several items on my list that I can change.
Most of the things which should be changed are small things, seemingly not “Serenity Prayer caliber”, but they matter to me. Many of the things on my mind represent tiny, individual building blocks of the home I want to build and the legacy I want to leave. I can’t give up on these things even though this season of life is tough. These little areas of growth and improvement matter. But in order to change anything – even the smallest thing – I need gumption far beyond my natural supply.
So I’m asking God to give me the courage to keep going in the midst of exhaustion, sickness, and the discouraging winter blues.
I’ve had to tell myself that I could stop my whining and do something about most of things on my list.
I can play worship music in the morning as the kids come down for breakfast.
I can invest 30 minutes in researching Spelling Tips for my sweet struggling student.
I can tackle one tupperware bin of clothes at a time, even if it takes until July to get our kiddos out of sweaters and into short-sleeve shirts.
I can send a text to my husband, call my sister, and lend a book to a friend.
Here I am in the middle of March – not even a week after our toddler’s stomach virus, when I’m still washing down her carseat (from a gushing episode without free groceries), and her crib sheets, and my favorite leather satchel – and I feel the unexpected nudge to ask God for the courage (vast amounts of courage, please!) to tackle a few things…
…things which should be changed.