Monday, 10 November 2014



This picture has a story behind it, but more on that another day.   Talking about chaos again for now. 

I haven't written much about chaos lately.  I've been busy trying to keep a lid on ours!   But something has inspired me to write again today, about chaos and a lack of Shalom, in my life, and the life of three of my closest friends.

These three friends are all homeschooling mums, and have shared with me in the last week how very, very tired they are.  Their tiredness is physical, but it's also emotional, mental and spiritual tiredness, borne of disappointments, guilt, grief, worry, hard work, a lack of support, frustration, endless mothering, and so much more, more than I can possibly know.  
What makes us so tired when the Lord has promised that His yoke is easy and His burden is light?    

Matthew 11:28-30   ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’
Why are we homeschoolers burnt out/burning out so readily?   
This homeschool life is meant to be ideal, the picture perfect life - at home with our kids, doing life together, living the good life, loving God, being in relationship with Him, ourselves and each other, learning about Him and His creation.   The idealistic life, the 'easier' life, and yet it hasn't been for these three friends, or me.
But, is it actually the schooling that makes me, and them, so tired?   Is it the schooling?   It's what gets blamed for anything that is amiss in our lives, anything at all, by those who want to find something wrong, and those who mean well and feel sorry for us in our choice, or by those who just want to help.   
I don't do a lot of actual sit-down schooling at the moment, so perhaps I've forgotten how time-consuming it is to school several children at once, especially as they get older (no, it doesn't get easier as they get older - the questions are a lot harder to answer!).    For me, and I can only speak for me, it's the stress that comes with it that has made me tired.   But perhaps that stress isn't related so much to homeschooling as to just being a mum. 
It's the guilt I feel as a mum, especially as they have grown into adulthood, that I have failed them in so many, many ways.   Homeschooling is not one of the ways I feeled I have failed them.  
It's the disappointment I feel in myself that I haven't lived up to my own standards.  
It's the bitterness I harbour at the lack of understanding and support we've received from others in our family and community, especially from Christians.  

It's the stress and busy-ness I create for myself by doing more than I or we need to do.  

It's the stress of not listening to God about how to do what needs doing, but stubbornly doing it my own way.   It's the stress I feel when my idols take centre place in my life, instead of my God.   Idols are much more demanding than God is. 

It's judging others for their failings and feeling the weight of that judgement on my own head.  

It's the frustration that my children feel, and I absorb, when they fail or when they can't do what's in their hearts to do, and the guilt I feel at being partly responsible for that.

It's the frustration I feel at being so needed here, so constantly. 

It's the stress of being at the centre of everyone's well-being, when they should be relying on Him.   If only I could get out of His way and allow them to learn how to do that.  

It's the disappointment I feel in not being able to help and rescue those I care about because I'm so busy.   

It's taking on burdens that I'm not meant to carry. 

It's carrying my burdens alone, and everyone else's, and not allowing Him to carry them, with my participation.   

It's constantly seeing the negative in things, instead of focusing on the lovely and noble and good and honourable.  

It's believing the enemy's lies, that I don't 'do' enough, am not good enough.  It's believing his lies about all that's not right, instead of hanging onto faith and hope and love.    It's allowing my mind, as capable as it apparently is, to think only about the facts instead of seeing by faith.  

All these stresses create emotions that are very powerful and they have a very negative an impact on me, and they steal my joy.   Joy strengthens us, but these emotions weaken me, us in very real ways - physically and mentally and emotionally and spiritually.   Scripture says in various proverbs that disappointment makes the heart sick, a crushed spirit who can bear, and as a man thinketh, so is he.  
And sometimes, it's the good things that make me tired.  It's allowing the good, those things that I would like to do and that seem right to do, to take first place over the best that God has in mind for me and my family.  
His best is His 'easy', well-fitting yoke.  

In Hebrew times, a yoke was not made in a factory, not made to a one-size-fits-all standard.  Each yoke was made to fit the particular beast of burden that it was to go on.   I feel like a beast of burden.   And Jesus promises me that His yoke, the yoke made by my own personal Carpenter, fits me perfectly, so that it won't rub or chafe or cause my burden to be unbearable.   He says His burden is light, so why does it feel so heavy, too heavy to carry so many times?   Is it because I carry it alone, because I arrogantly believe that I should be the centre of their world, instead of Him, that if I don't control and oversee everything, that they will suffer and it will all fall apart?   Is it believing the lie that I love my kids more than He does?  

Allowing someone else to help you carry the burden, and allowing them to shoulder most of the load, requires trust and agreement with the One carrying the load, and that's a hard thing to learn, especially if you've had to be the one who leads and who is strong for others.   He is strong enough for both of us, so why don't I lean on Him?

These friends of mine, and I, have something in common.  We've all had to be strong because others have needed us to be, and we are strong, but we're struggling to stay afloat, and to know how to lean on Him, rather than ourselves.  

It's funny that we're all about the same age, give or take five years or so.  Does it take that long to realise you can't do it all alone?    Or perhaps it takes that long to run out of your own strength?   Does it take that long for bitterness, frustration, disappointment, guilt and other negative emotions to take their toll - on you, on your relationships, on your children, on your endeavours, on your body?    Does it take that long to gather enough disappointments and heartaches that you reach breaking point?  
I don't have definitive answers to all these questions - I would love to.   But these are questions we must ask ourselves, not others, and we must seek the answers from the One who alone has the real answers.   And if we seek Him, we shall find Him, if we seek Him with all our hearts. 

Deuteronomy 4:28-31  There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.

God's heart for us is Shalom.  

According to Strong's concordance, Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.

Shalom is being at peace in every area of our lives.

How do we get so far from that?    Are we ready to hunker down and wrestle with Him until we get HIS answers for us, to return to, or just to begin to, wear that 'easy' yoke and carry that 'light' burden He's promised us?  

Will we seek Him with all our broken hearts?   Or will we look to others because we really don't trust ourselves to hear Him, or trust Him to speak to us, to answer us, or perhaps we can't wait for HIS answers? 

Sometimes, we just need to STOP, like the sign says, before the train of chaos hits us.   Sometimes, we just need to take some serious time out to be still and get beyond the daily chaos to really find the causes.   

I need to hear Him and let Him restore Shalom to me.   How about you?

Isaiah 26:3
Thou wilt keep him in shalom shalom, whose yetzer (mind-set) is stayed on Thee; because he trusteth in Thee.  (Orthodox Jewish Bible)
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.   (NIV)
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