Their strained, angry voices would wake me from sleep in my basement bedroom. When I recall them now, though – I hear the fear.
My dad was afraid he couldn’t provide for our family. He was afraid he couldn’t measure up to my mother’s unspoken expectations. He was angry because she asked the wrong questions or looked at him with confusion, hurt, or despair that he perceived as dishonor or disrespect.
My mom was afraid dad would leave us for the friend he met at the bar. A part of her wanted him to go. But the other part was terrified she couldn’t survive without him. I remember she always wore a pained look on her face, even when she was smiling.
I remember her look of helplessness so clearly. I learned to despise her desperate cry for mercy. There was this hint of judgment in it – that somehow everything in her life that was wrong was everyone else’s fault. Her face said, “Help me, please don’t hurt me.” But it also said, “It’s all your fault.”
Their middle of the night outbursts made my little girl self feel afraid, angry, confused, and desperately helpless.
Though I’m all grown up now, I still have to daily remind the little girl in me that I am not helpless, I am strong in Christ.
- When my kitchen (or my entire house) is a mess and I don’t feel like cleaning it.
- When I’m up against many deadlines and I feel like all I want to do is pretend like they don’t exist.
- When I give in to my boys who keep asking to play video games.
- When I see my calendar for the week ahead and the crush of appointments makes me want to cancel it all.
- When I look at the income/expenses columns in my budget and want to cry.
- When my husband asks for help with tasks while so many of mine remain undone.
John 15:5 gives me hope in these helpless places. God’s word reminds me how much I need Jesus, and how if I can remain IN HIM, he is right there with me to help.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Apart from me you can do NOTHING. At the start of this year, our church spent five weeks learning this chapter of scripture, and I want this one line “apart from me you can do nothing,” planted deep in my heart. The series is called “The Power of Same” and it is so powerful.
Would you join me this month leading up to Easter as I seek to replace the lies in my head with God’s truth? I’m coming to realize I’ve been wrong for so long about how best to approach the daily problems I face. I cannot defiantly push through any more. My patience runs out. My joy turns to despair. My faith turns to fear.
I can’t blame others for my problems. If I don’t like something in my life, I have the power to change it. It may not be easy. But it will be worth it. What kinds of changes have you made this year that help you work through feelings of helplessness? I need all the help I can get. I promised myself I’d give up despair for Lent.
For more on how to be a stronger, wiser woman, my friend Lysa TerKeurst preached on making wise choices in the midst of endless demands during our Elevation Church series “The Best Yes.” The book is amazing. Her message is called, “One Wise Woman.”