Thursday, October 10, 2013

Welcome to the Zoo

Apparently I've been neglecting this blog lately. It hasn't been intentional. It's just that my brain has been so full of mush that I haven't been able to form a coherent thought. I attribute this partially to having three kids who are constantly clamoring for my undivided attention. And partially to getting older.

I recently celebrated a birthday. It wasn't one of the "big" ones, like 30 (I wish) or 40 (which is too close for comfort), but it was still a birthday. And birthdays aren't super exciting after you hit 21. But apparently, it was a big day to someone because I received a packet of glucosamine chondroitin in the mail from a random drug company. It apparently improves joint health. I think I should be offended. Now, granted, I have been walking around a little stooped over due to a sore back, but come on. (To be honest, I feel like someone has been peeking in on my life, and frankly, that's a little scary.) "Happy Birthday, Old Lady."

On top of feeling a little older, some days I also feel like I live in a zoo.  And I don't mean a happy, relaxed zoo where the animals are properly restrained and contained. For instance, we have a little pop-up tent in our playroom that the kids like to play in. But yesterday, I guess Jonah thought he was part of the WWF because he was DDTing the tent. (Is that the correct wrestling lingo? Obviously I was not a WWF aficionado growing up.) Anyway, basically Jonah was running, jumping, and slamming his body on top of the tent. I'm not sure how much more it can take. (And by "it," I mean me.)

Jonah also loves to jump on the furniture. It's almost impossible to prevent him from jumping. He likes to say, "But I need to jump." And maybe that's true. He can jump from the twin bed in Vivienne's room almost to the door. We're talking at least four feet. I'm pretty sure we will be spending some quality time in the ER with this child. (And, by the way, I used to talk about friends who allowed their children to jump on furniture. I'm. So. Sorry.)

And anyone with more than one child knows about sibling rivalry. It is already starting with Jonah and Vivienne, and some days I feel like all I do is referee. Vivienne loves to irritate Jonah by taking something that he is playing with. And sweet Jonah isn't sure what to do about it. He obviously doesn't want to snatch it back and hurt her, so instead, he comes running to me so I can rescue his stolen toy. Super fun.

But life isn't always crazy. Today Jonah helped me vacuum the bedrooms. Now granted, it took about four times as long as it should have. And the vacuum freaked Vivienne out so badly that she scooted away, screaming her head off. Which was actually kind of funny. (Does that make me a bad mama for laughing at her terror?) Anyway, Jonah was very sweet and helpful. And he was proud of himself for being such a great helper.

While Jonah was helping me clean, though, I realized something about myself. I have a very difficult time accepting help from others. I've always thought of myself as pretty independent, being self-sufficient, especially when Peter is deployed. I guess I never wanted him to worry that I couldn't handle whatever life threw at me. But lately, I feel like life is throwing me a few curve balls and I need to be more open to asking for and receiving help.

This is not a new concept. It's actually biblical. Scripture repeatedly tells us to love our brothers and sisters, to share with them, and help meet their needs. Galatians 6:2 tells us to "bear one another's burdens" in order to fulfill the law of Christ. And Philippians 2:4 says this: "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." This verse doesn't give us permission to nose our way into our friends' business, but it does instruct us to look out for our Christian sisters and brothers. And if we see a need that we can meet, we must offer our assistance.

I know that I am guilty of having tunnel vision where all I focus on is what I see right in front of me. I don't always look around to see how I can help friends who are struggling. And frankly, I think lots of my friends, myself included, like to pretend that everything about our lives is great. We don't want others to know that we are struggling in our marriages, or we are having difficulty with a particular discipline issue with one of our children, or our finances are a mess. We just put on a happy face in order to mask our insecurities and our difficult issues.

But what if we all decided to take off our masks? What if we decided to let a few people into our not-so-perfect world? Think about the effect we could have in each others' lives. If we knew how to pray for each other, we could intercede specifically for our friends. If we knew a friend was having a hard time balancing children, a job, and housework, we could help out by cleaning their home or doing their laundry one day. If we knew our friends were struggling in their marriage, we could encourage and mentor them. There are so many possibilities if only we would be open and authentic with each other. And we also must be willing to accept help when it is offered.

We are called to love The Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Let's all vow to be more honest about our struggles. Let's allow our friends to see our messes.

I, for one, will be inviting more of my friends into my "zoo." Because, hey, the animals are wild but they sure are cute.


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