I don’t know about you – but I have feeling much more stressed than usual lately. All of the stresses of 2020 just seem to be getting to me these days. All of those little things that didn’t bother me before – well – they are starting to make me feel just a wee bit stressed.
The pressure of having a full-time job plus sharing a second full-time teaching position with Jason is starting to show.
Our sweet Will is only 7 and there is absolutely no way he can do most of his assigned work on his own. And honestly – it would feel really mean to ask him to try when Jason and I can help him. Will needs us nearby to answer questions – to turn in his school work – to answer his questions – to keep him on task – and to answer his questions.
I often really enjoy this learning time with Will – but it has dramatically changed the shape of my days. Gone are the long – gloriously quiet hours for thinking – writing – making phone calls – and maybe even doing some professional reading. It feels like 1,000 years ago instead of just months ago!
I still do all of these things – but now I do them while holding my breath and waiting for the next interruption. For the next call of “Mom!” For the next “what am I having for lunch?” Or for my personal favorite – “Dad – where’s Mom?” Because you just know that Jason couldn’t answer the question!
Having less “alone” time is starting to make me a bit twitchy! A bit more snappish. A bit less me . . .
Quite frankly I am starting to fray around the edges. I am becoming someone I am less familiar with . . .
So yesterday I decided I would start getting up earlier. Jack is an early riser – so I will have some company – but still it is a lot quieter at our house in the early mornings hours. It is peaceful. I can drink my coffee and think and just breathe. I need to do some breathing. Lots and lots and lots of quiet breathing!
As I stood in the kitchen pouring my cup of coffee this morning – Jack walked into the kitchen and said – “Mom – you have got to come outside with me. There is a crescent moon and it is really beautiful. The sky is so clear! You can see so many stars.”
And so I grabbed my favorite warm – wooly sweater off of the back of the door and I headed outside with my beloved son and wow – was Jack right. We stood there in awe of the waning crescent moon and all of the twinkling stars shining in the early morning sky. Jack pointed out some constellations (because he is smart like that) and we just stood there together under the dark sky and took it all in. We let it wash over us.
My beloved son was my wise teacher and my gentle – loving pastor this morning. Jack was just what I needed today. He spoke the words of wisdom that I most needed to hear. Look Jack said to me – look at the awesome sky that our Lord – God created. Look and behold God’s mighty hand. Breathe – slow down – delight – focus – enjoy – appreciate – give thanks. You are not alone. We are never – ever alone. It is going to be okay. Really – it will be okay – because God is with us – even now in these strange – exhausting times.
And he might just have added – quietly – gently – in a whisper – because my Jack is a very – very nice boy – “Practice what you preach!”
But that’s the thing – my sermons – my preaching – my writing – my reading – my teaching are directed at the preacher too!
I always find it so odd – so incredibly puzzling that people think that pastors should be or are less flawed – less broken – less human than the rest of humanity.
When I was ordained I didn’t become less human. I simply publicly professed my faith in the Triune God and my willingness to share my faith in a very vocal – open way that lots of folks are not comfortable doing. I declared that I would be a lot more “out there” with my faith. But being called to be a pastor and ordained certainly don’t mean that I am less of a mess.
Pastors are people and because we are people – we flawed and stressed and broken too. All you have to do is ask my sons – they will tell you! Actually – I will tell you! I am feeling the strain of living in this Covid-19 world. I am tired of canceling things at church. I am tired of telling my sons “no” when they want to do something that was once okay – but now just isn’t safe. I miss coffee hours and fellowship and social activities at church. I miss committee meetings and planning exciting – glorious events. I miss letting my guard down. I miss my friends. I really – really – really miss Jack’s friends and Will’s friends too! I miss the casual ease of my old normal. I miss and long for quiet stretches to work and I know that Jason does too. I miss only having one job. I miss smiles. I really – really miss smiles.
But as Jack reminded me this morning we are not alone. God is with us. We are never – ever – ever alone.
As I stood on our front porch with Jack this morning the words from Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans started running through my mind:
“What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:31, 35-39
Not even life can separate us from God. God has us. He promises us that he does.
So – I am going to make sure that I make time to stop and notice the beauty of the night sky and the blessings of my life. I am going to delight in the blessing of a patient – loving husband and two seriously nifty sons. I am going to give thanks for a vocation I have always loved. I am going to give thanks for Mrs. Mazzoni and Mrs. Graves and all of Will’s dedicated teachers and for all of the teachers who are supporting and teaching Jack during this wild time in our lives. I am going to breath and give thanks for my blessings. I am going to notice the blessings more and the stress-y stresses less.
Because there are far – far – far more blessings and beautiful moments than there are messy ones!
You are all in my heart, thoughts, and prayers.
In Christ and with Love –