He looks at all the acts and feats and he sees a colorful amazing show. I look at it and I see my life and it's not entertaining, it's exhausting, it's scary, and there is frankly to much going one at one time to enjoy anything very much.
We have been called to the life of wife, mother, and homeschooler. We're gonna talk about balancing these roles and what if any time at all is left over for anything other "acts" or death defying feats. I want us to think about how it feels to be on at all times. To rush, to hurry, and to stop and think about what is the main focus.
Is your life a circus? Is that ther life God called you to? Are there things you are missing because you are doing too many things all at once?
There are two realities in a circus, the show that we see and the show that happens behind the curtains. Rehearsed hundreds of times, every prop, shoe, and costume precisley placed for quick changes. So that when they walk in to the arena it looks effortless. For most of us there are two shows going on at our home too. We might indeed make to all our engagements, and appointments, but how much yelling was done to get out the door? How many people couldn't find what they needed, silly things like matching shoes or clean socks? How many tears were shed because the stress, was just too much? How many more tears were held back?
Some of us live at this frantic pace, 24/7. Why? I am convinced, having watched moms do this for 19 years, and homeschooling moms do it for 11 and having done it myself for too many, that much of the chaos is to put on for others the image of the greatest show on earth. For whom? Everyone.
I'm going to get to a really, deeply personal part right now. This is not easy. But I'm going to give you some challenges. Not to answer right now, but to take home and pray and pray and pray about them.
When you get to a point where you are ready to ask the hard questions and examine exactly why you live this circus life, I think the best place to start is your pride.
How's your pride? What? Huh? What does pride have to do with anything? I know you want to talk about scheduling, and organization and how once upon time the proper binder system saved my life. But all that is distraction. It's a lie. Are you buying into it? Are you focused on how to run the circus more effeciently instead of asking God if you are supposed to live in a circus?
We don't want to ask that question. We won't like the answer. Let's pretend that we asked, and let's pretend that we came to realize that God did not in fact call us to circus life. So how do you leave? Will the midgets and clowns chase you down and drag you back? I don't mean your children and husband when I say midgets and clowns! You are bad!
The obstacle to overcome when obeying God in leaving the circus is the greatest sin of all. Are you ready for it...? Pride. Pride Satan, Satan. Pride prevented Adam and Eve from calling out to God, pride prevented Cain from confessing to God, and I can go on and on. Pride is insidious. Pride masks itself in the heart of a Christian and under the file "service" or good works. Pride prevents us from admitting to ourselves, to our husbands and to our children that we have failed them! Failed them so that we could feel good about all the show we put on for everyone else.
Ever gone to do an event that you organized and led for a group of families or children and all the way their your own children are crying, hungry, and your husband is left home hungry and frustrated because the house looks like a bomb went off? Who are we serving there and why? Who is the show for again?
As most of you know I let go of every single leadership position I held over the last two years. It was a long, painful process for me. I let go initially because what had once been a well run performance that everyone enjoyed and no one was crying, hungry or left out, began to slip away from me.
Like the act where the man comes out and spins plates on sticks...I could do that once. I even enjoyed it for a brief time, but the truth was no one, NO ONE can keep that up for long. What happens? The plates start slowly down, they fall, and they shatter.
I dropped a couple, and then God was generous enough to me force me to quit. I was diagnosed with MS. I could coach volleyball, I couldn't do lots of things. Yet I held on to several plates even then. I confess to you that I held on to those plates out of pride. Being the girl who could do it all was my identity, I liked her. Being the mom other moms, said "I don't know how she does it" was like a tonic to me. Leading an event and having everyone congratulate me, and tell me what a great time their kids had
I would go home to an unhappy husband and think, you know he doesn't appreciate what I do! He can't be happy for me! He doesn't know how much this means to me! Discord at home.
Service is important. But I realized that my service was not to God. It wasn't even to the kids, moms, or the groups. It was self serving. It was me trying to fill a void and a loneliness in my life. When we sacrifice rewarding careers to mother and homeschool it is a huge sacrifice. No one gives us plaques, and takes us to celebratory lunches. We don't get reviews, praise, promotions, and heaven knows we don't get raises!
It's natural seek ways to find fulfillment outside the home. Natural but not always best.
Service for pride's sake is destructive. Serving to be in control is destructive. Serving to avoid our true work is destructive.
How many plates do you really have to balance? No, how many of those plates did God give you? And how many of those plates did you pick up on your own? Which ones are you letting fall?
Moms, I know this is hard to hear. God said it me, I was mad as a wet hen when He said it. I was even madder when He forced me to put the plates down. But I believe in my heart He wants me to say it to you.
The first plate you must take, is Him. He is the source of all Love, all Strength, all Patience. If you are lacking in these, you are not taking this plate first. How much time in a day to you offer to Him in prayer? Is it while your spinning all the other plates? Distracted and hurried. Or is it carefree timelessness? Matthew Kelly an author I love, talks about this idea of carefree timelessness. When was the last time you had some of that? I tell you this no relationship can thrive without it. Here is how Mr. Kelly describes it. How long do teenagers talk on the phone? Forever right? They get off the phone and you say what did you talk about? Nothing. Carefree timelessness. That is why teenagers fall in love so easily because carefree timelessness is the gateway to abundant love and connection. How much carefree timelessness to you spend with God? How much of your prayer time is a to do list for God?
"Um, God, please take care of Peggy, Lisa, Jenny, bless her heart, for momma for world hunger, for the furnace, for my children, for my husband, for me...thank you God see you tomorrow".
How much time do we give to sit at the foot of His throne and listen? How much time to wait on His leading? How much time do we allow Him to speak to us in the word? Ladies if you feel like no matter what you do you can't win. No matter how hard you work, how hard you try, how much you give of yourself you still fail! You are still not good enough, people still aren't happy! I submit for your consideration that you might need to drop every other plate and tend this one.
The second plate, is your husband. The spouse God chose for you, whose needs are yours, whose counsel you should seek, the man who stands as a minister to you and your children to shepherd you through life. This man married you, he loves and adores you, he is committed to you and he would die for you. Think about that for a second. Jesus died for your sins, something no man could ever do!! We love our Jesus for dying for us. If Jesus was at your house would you rush out the door and tell him to make a bologna sandwich for dinner. Or worse! Tell him he's a grown man and he can figure it out.
Your husband who is called to be Christ to you in the flesh everyday of his life. He would give his life and body for yours. I had heard that many times but a moment when I was resting on the couch with my husband and looking at his bare arms and that came into my mind. His flesh is as vulnerable as mine. But no harm could ever come to me or my children without going through him. He would gladly lay down his life for me and for our babies.
I never saw him the same way. He deserves my honor, my respect and my love. He is the second most important plate, even before my children. God made a man, a couple, then a family. If I don't care for the very foundation of my children's existence, which is my marriage their foundation will be built on sand instead of rock. Caring for my husband is caring for my children.
Before I go into this next part, I am not talking about the exception. I am talking about the rule. I have never met a man who doesn't want a well run, organized home, home cooked meals, a happy wife, well behaved kids, attention from his wife and sex. He may be out there, I have never heard of him, have you? Is there anything unreasonable about his desires? Plenty of couple decide to swap out roles, some decide mom should work, etc. I'm not talking about those folks. If you have made the decision to be a stay at home, full time wife and mother who homeschools the children then you have probably opted for largely traditional roles.
I say if we expect the men to fulfill their part of the bargain we must fulfill ours to the best of our ability. That means you might only be able to manage well these 3 plates and not a thing more.
That third plate homeschooling of your children, is a full time job friends. Even if the instruction is a few hours, the planning, grading, preparation, and time spent with your children beyond the instruction time is important. It can never take a backseat to anything. Extra curricular activities mean EXTRA. After the curricula, after the point and purpose. Here is another tough question...How many times in your school day does the plate drop so you can talk on the phone? Email? Farm on Farmville? Whatever. If the plate is spinning, great, but be very honest with yourself. Look at the big picture. Are you rationalizing? Are you answering the phone because your pride cannot stand giving up that feeling of importance. The world might just fall apart without you. Yeah, it won't.
Women pay a lot of lip service to the word balance. We think we have a good balance but the real test, the real test if you have balance or if you are living a circus life, is to ask your family.
Are you brave enough to ask your husband? When you do know this. He loves you. He can see how much your self worth is tied to all the extra plates you spin and how your pride and self esteem is connected to be the "gal" who does it all. He may be well conditioned to say, "whatever makes you happy". Or worse. He may be so unaccustumed to having authority in his own home that he doesn't know what to do with it when it is offered. He may be used to the circus and not know how to live any other way. I encourage you to set your pride aside and hear him. Pray together about what your family can manage, and what your family has added to the priority list.
Then, moving forward look at each day with a discerning eye. Look for spaces, and opportunities to change. Divest in things that don't matter to your family, or that draw you away from your work.
The enemy will often times tempt you with something that is good to prevent you from something that is better.
The circus is a wonderful show. I look at it with wonder and awe, but I keep thinking with so much going on, I can't enjoy any one thing fully.
We can have it all as women. We just can't have it all at the same time. We have seasons in our life. When our babies are in diapers, they need our undivided attention. It's demanding, but it is a short while. When they are young homeschoolers they need our personal instruction, but this too passes. The time will come so much faster than you can know, when you will have all the time in the world to volunteer, to minister, to lead. When that time comes God will give you more plates to spin, you won't even need to go looking for them.
My prayer for you is that you would see that you are enough right now. Love God, embrace being the wife of your man, Love, enjoy and teach your children. If that is all you can manage really well, it's more than enough. That is alot to balance really, if you are going to do them well.
Perhpas you can think about these questions?
How many plates are you spinning?
How many do you need to spin?
Which ones do you drop the most?
Which ones did you put on your plate?
Which ones are from God?
How's your pride?
What can you let go of?