While standing around with a group of friends the other day, I was struck by the looks of exhaustion in their faces. Some even complained out loud about it. One recounted the hassle of some household fixes she and her husband had discovered and were discussing the financial burden it entailed, another told of the difficulty they were having with their renters not paying on time and the fact that she needs a new bed (the one she has now is hurting her back) but can't afford one. All of them had small children, so that was the undertone of each conversation.
As we swapped stories of stress and tiredness, I realized I had nothing to add. Normally I would go into a litany of things I'm exhausted and exasperated over. It would even be difficult for me to not demand that someone, anyone, listen to me so that I could share my desperation in hopes that by sharing, there might be some sort of solution and I could find peace.
I have found the peace I was forever seeking. It did not come by sharing out loud, it came by quieting my thoughts and my words. Instead of adding to a conversation of exhausted moms, I listen and pray. Instead of peppering my husband with the details of my day, I offer each detail up in prayer throughout the day. Instead of ramping up anxiety when I am running late, I take a deep breath and say to myself, "Jesus I trust in you and your perfect timing." I always try to remain in that calm, quiet place where my Lord is, and in return, my desperate exhaustion has disappeared.
Practical steps I have taken to peace:
- If a task seems hard, pray, "Jesus, I give this moment to you for your intentions," or "Jesus, I trust in you."
- Ask for help from Jesus and Mary.
- Try not to talk too much.
- Do household tasks steadily and even ask Jesus what to do next.
- Eat only to sustain myself to do my duties (care for children and house).
- Keep the kitchen, dining room and front room tidy so all can relax, including visitors.
- Avoid noise (TV, radio, internet).
- Stop thoughts of worry and anxiety, about past or present, before they steal my energy.
- Everything, I mean everything, I do I offer to Jesus and it is when I forget to do this that my peace starts to fade.
Don't get me wrong, I am still tired, it's just different. It is a peaceful tiredness. I have been up each night with the baby and up early with him as well. My eldest daughter spent half the night up with sickness the other night and the housework never ends. However, it's a tiredness that is manageable and doesn't throw me into monster mommy mode. I am able to tolerate, and even embrace, things that used to drive me crazy. I just turn my thoughts to prayer instead of irritated and angry words.
When Peace is Disturbed
This path to peace has had its rocks and roots that I have stumbled over. I have even fallen flat on my face. But the fall is short lived. The other day I stole into the back room for a giant cry after a particularly hard fall. In that instance, I felt like such a failure. I was about to give up on this path I had started down because I was sure I couldn't do it anymore. How could I when my peace was disturbed so easily? I curled up where I would not be seen and cried to God. I did not grab the phone or even my computer, I had a conversation with Jesus. His words to me while I sobbed were, "now you understand, just a little bit, the suffering I went through on the cross...for you and for the world."
That's the whole purpose of my life now. To unite my sufferings and work with Christ. In doing so, I not only find peace, but joy as well.
No Jesus No Peace