It’s been coming on pretty steadily, even from the beginning of the school year when the school days were shorter by a forty-five minutes. That’s forty-five less minutes to have quiet in the house in order to get stuff done.
My teaching hours are different – more early morning and mid-afternoon sessions, less of the long stretches of time at home (to get stuff done). And I’m trying to do more than before: write and find an agent for a fictional novel and create the audio recording of my memoir, moderate an author’s group on Facebook, and co-moderate another Christian blogger’s group. I’m getting more opportunities through my blog and I’m juggling everything because I don’t want to let any of them drop. They’re too good to pass up.
On a personal level, I’m trying to change some eating and exercise habits, but I don’t have time or the attention span to set the boulder in motion. It’s one thing to be in relatively good shape and add some exercise. It’s another thing to have to start completely from scratch with the mental effort equivalent to a full-time job. I just … can’t.
My husband is even busier. This past week he worked non-stop, sometimes getting 2 or 3 hours of sleep a night. He was in London last week and had to go again this morning. There are things that I need him for – administrative stuff that is time-sensitive, such as my naturalisation, our dual taxation, our family’s discount transportation cards for having three kids (ours is about to expire). But he’s just not around to do it.
The house and garden are falling to rack and ruin, the kids are left to fend for themselves, (except for food, clothing, transportation, and hugs), friends are neglected unless they are conveniently located – and even then …
In many ways, our hearts are in the right place. We were asked to oversee the Children’s Ministry in our church, which means organising the classes, screening and training the people who teach the various age-groups every Sunday, and making sure they have a mini communion message on the days they teach. All we’ve done so far to further this worthy cause was to draft an e-mail that didn’t end up getting sent because we were waiting for more details. We continue to have Bible discussions every other Friday (we reduced it to twice a month) and are involved with individual Bible studies. Our hearts are willing, but we can barely catch our breath.
Last night, we were praying, and Matthieu said something that made me laugh. He referenced the storm from the Bible in which the disciples were frightened. They woke Jesus up, and he calmed the wind and the waves. It’s worth sharing the story here:
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35-40)
What’s striking about this passage is that these men were veteran fishermen. And they were accustomed to the intense squalls that came up suddenly on the Sea of Galilee, due to shallow water, tall surrounding mountains, and extreme differences in air temperature. But this storm was so bad, it terrified them to the point that they stopped any effort at saving themselves long enough to glare at Jesus, who was sleeping peacefully, and cry out, “Don’t you care if we drown?”
I like how they accused Jesus of not caring about them, expecting him to get a pail and start frantically bailing out water at their side. They had noooo idea who Jesus was.
But at least they invited him into their concerns. As Matthieu prayed, he said that we’re still trying bail out the boat and repair the sails ourselves. We obviously still think we can handle it all. We haven’t bothered to “wake Jesus up” and ask for help because we assume we have it (mostly) under control.
It’s not just the business factor that has me overwhelmed and puzzled. It’s as if all our efforts are being frustrated. We’ve been waiting since the summer to refinance the loans on our house and get a separate loan for raising the roof. This should eventually make a positive difference on our finances, if not in the short-term, most definitely in the long-term. But there is this one paper that our old bank is not sending to our new bank and the only thing we can do it about it is to keep reminding them. And wait. All of our efforts at moving forward are thwarted by something we have no control over.
Things are also getting broken. We bought about 5 coffee machines over the space of 2 years because I kept breaking them. Sometimes the carafe was impossible to replace and so I had to buy an entirely new machine. This last time I bought one of the double machines that makes both espresso and carafe coffee, thinking that it would be a smarter investment long-term. This was only a couple of months ago and the espresso part is already leaking. I’m not sure if I saved the receipt.
I bought a lamp for our living room and it got lost in the mail and I’m having trouble getting a hold of the people to get a reimbursement. We bought a CD for a friend’s birthday after much research (it’s very rare) and it got lost in the mail and they said they don’t have any more in stock. Our semi-new printer stopped printing, and Matthieu had to spend hours last night trying to figure out why. Our pump for the well is broken. Our wifi is on the fritz. The lens for our camera is broken and we need a good one for some upcoming projects. And our bank account is currently in the red (as usual).
I won’t talk about my husband’s job publicly, nor will I say whether he shares my opinion or not, but I will say that I am not entirely content with the certain aspects of it. And the mad rush for a book agent has brought only despair so far. Two rejections without even wanting to see the rest of the manuscript. I’m self-deceived enough to be surprised – this is the precisely the kind of book I like to read, so why wouldn’t you (oh agents) like it too?
You can pity my naiveté. Or laugh at me. It’s okay – I laugh at myself all the time.
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’”
Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” (Haggai 1:2-6)
This is what’s puzzling us. We plant much and harvest little. We eat and drink, but are never satisfied. We buy clothes but there is always something wrong with them (too small, rip easily, kids don’t like it); we earn money, but we put it in a purse with holes in it and the coins fall to the ground for someone else to grasp. And we are so oblivious, we have NO idea.
It’s not even like we’re neglecting God’s house! We’re caring for his ministry and his people. We’re praying and fasting.
But if we are to be honest with ourselves, we’re much more obsessed with our work than with God’s. We’re living in paneled houses while God’s house stands in ruin. And we are going to have to take a serious look at what we’re doing wrong.
The very thought is enough to send me back to bed.
“Teacher. Don’t you care if we drown?” I think we need part-repentence, and part-divine intervention. And we’d better start by asking Jesus for a hand.
It’s hard to explain the nuances and complexities of our situation, some aspects of which are too private to put on a public forum. And we will be praying for guidance, and seeking it from couples we trust in our church. But have you ever been in this situation? What did you do?