It’s been 3 full weeks of sickness for Team Pelzel now, and we’re entering the 4th week with dwindling hope. We’ve all been passing sickness around to each other, and those sicknesses have morphed into new sicknesses, and now we’re on our 3rd or 4th round of “new bugs”. Does that ever happen to you? You get attacked over and over again?
At first I was like “Ok. We’ve got this. It happened later in the school year than I thought so that must be a good sign! Immunity is building!” And now I’m singing a different tune. I’ll spare you that tune but let me tell you- it’s like if Drudgery and Sadness had a sniffly, screaming baby.
Last night was particularly hard. Our youngest gets these screaming bouts that are unreal. This one happened on and off from 1am- 6am. I went to bed at 11pm. So. That’s what we’re working with today.
I’m making a commitment on this blog to be honest and genuine. Because mothering is just so freaking hard sometimes. Don’t get me wrong- it is a beautiful treasure and a gift I’ve fought tooth and nail for- but it’s a hard treasure. And it’s mostly because I’m such a selfish person.
Truly- I am. My BFF is like the most naturally selfless person I’ve ever met (Yes you are, peach. Stop shaking your head.). It’s like she oozes selflessness and kindness and I’m just over here staring at her with my head cocked to the side, squinting. Do you know someone like that? Someone who seems to just emanate otherness? It’s amazing to watch. And then I get jealous. Then I’m mad. Then I give up and think, “oof that seems like a lot of work, I’d rather just have a nap.”
I want to be selfless, especially when my kids are sick, but after close to a month of germs- I’m just over it. And this morning we heard about the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Hearing about a massive tragedy after a night like I had… yikes. Just yikes. It’s been quite a day.
I tell you all this to just paint you an honest picture of where I’m at. Tired. Heavy hearted. Tired again. And when I get to this low place, my natural tendency is to 1) go into survival mode and 2) nap. Just nap. Neither of which I can do while I have sick kids. My heart starts to get real ugly, too. My patience goes out the window and I can literally feel my grace and peace thinning out.
That’s just the beginning of the cycle- and I know you’ve been there too. I used to just resort to selfishness, but now it turns into all out rage. Friend I need Jesus, like FOR REAL.
I decided to sit and reflect for a bit this morning while I had a quick moment to myself. And I just kept thinking the same thought over and over, “these trenches are deep.” You know the trenches I’m talking about- the ones you feel you’ve dug a thousand times. And instead of it getting easier, it actually gets harder and harder. I don’t think I ever really understood how deep down I could dig myself when I just had Ella. But now with both girls let me tell you- these trenches feel like a never ending pit.
I live fairly close to Carlsbad Caverns. I’ve only gone maybe two or three times in my life and honestly once was enough for me. We took a whole vacation when I was growing up where we just saw holes in the ground: Carlsbad Caverns, the Grand Canyon, and some meteor I forget the name of. I’m not bashing it- my parents were and are so generous. But I’m laughing about it now, remembering how hard of a time we gave them for that.
Anyway, the last time I can remember going to Carlsbad Caverns, we found out (a little late in the game, I might add) that the giant elevator was broken. See, you slowly descend down the winding path of the caves, deeper and deeper until you reach the literal rock bottom. And then there’s this huge elevator that takes you back up to ground level so you don’t have to hike over a mile STRAIGHT UP. So we found out it was broken and instead of just not going in, or not going down all the way, we went all the way to the bottom. And yes, we then had to hike all the way back up. Exhausting.
I’m reminded of this today because the trenches of motherhood are deep, friend. But sometimes I’m the one who makes them deeper. I get the same angry voice in my head that repeats the worst things about my life- over and over again. And I start to believe that voice because it sounds “so right this time”. And I dig a little deeper. I dig a little deeper. Then something happens to really give that voice some leverage. And I dig deeper again. And suddenly, I’m at rock bottom on my back, hands and arms flailing, wondering how I got down so deep. Oh that’s right- I did it to myself.
After my first year of college I worked at a summer camp. They always took the first year staff spelunking (or to “explore a cave” for those of you who’ve never lived the nightmare). This certain cave we went to had a part that was so short you had to get on your hands and knees to crawl through it and you end up in some little room that we didn’t really even fit in. Anyway, the tradition was to turn off your head lamps and crawl, single file, through this little nightmare tunnel. I was young and stupid and went along with it, and almost fifteen years later it still gives me anxiety. But I did it- I made it through. I just kept feeling all around me, feeling the feet in front of me, and talking the whole time. Probably also pray/crying because let’s be real- it’s me.
Sometimes motherhood feels like that to me, when I’ve dug myself down too deep. Like I’m traveling down this deep, dark tunnel without a light. And I do it to myself- I have no one else to blame for it. Why do I let myself go there? Why don’t I just say no? But the good news that I realized today was this: motherhood is also like crawling out of that cave. Reaching around to touch the hope and blessings around me. Grabbing Jesus’s feet in front of me, relying on Him to show me the way. Trusting that I’ll get out of the trenches and look back feeling so proud.
The trenches are deep, my friend. But His love is deeper still. And today I am thankful that there is no rut too deep or tunnel too dark that He can’t lead me out of.
Is there a trench that you’ve dug? A tunnel you’re lost in? Reach around, search for your Hope. Start naming- out loud- the blessings in your life. When you feel yourself digging deeper into that trench, stop. Just stop. Take a break, cool down. Begin to thank Jesus for everything in your life. And I mean everything. Nothing is too small to thank Him for- and once you dive into thanksgiving, your spirit will rise- higher and higher.
Before you know it, you will be rising above that trench, seeing daylight, hope and peace. And don’t stop there, friend. Thank and thank and thank some more until you are touching Jesus’ feet in front of you, worshipping Him with thanksgiving and praise.
I dig myself down a lot, but I don’t have to stay there.
Today, I choose to rise.