Oh, This Selfish Heart!

Sometimes life is just plain complicated.

And disappointing.

And difficult.

And the people in it are that way, too.

But I don’t have to look at it that way.

This is one of those days when I would really like to cry for how things turned out.  And I am so tempted to BLAME.

(Which doesn’t help anything, really.)

My extended family gets together for breakfast on occasion.  Like once a month.  And it’s always on Saturday morning, and I have gotten there — well, maybe three times over the last few years.  I always love it, and I’m always glad that I went when I go, but Saturday mornings are complicated for me.  It is the morning that both my ladies get their “bone pill” for osteoporosis.  And it has to be given with time lapses and careful attention to other meds.  One of my ladies has two more pills that have to be taken with a time lapse before she can eat anything, so that means that I have about an hour and a half when I need to be present and cognitive on a Saturday morning.  Every other Saturday morning is bed changing day, and with the extra protective pads and pillows, that takes extra time.  Saturday morning also is the only morning that I can sleep a little bit later since there are no buses and work schedules for Daniel and Church to get to, etc.  So usually, I think about the family meeting over there in Harrington and sigh a little wistfully, and then go about my business here and try not to think about it any more.

But today, Uncle Paul and my cousin, Dan, from Virginia came up to go to breakfast.  Some of my other cousins were coming, too, and that made me really want to go.  Daniel and I had toyed with the idea of having everyone from the family that could make it come here last night for a cookout, but it just seemed like it wouldn’t work.  Our church was helping someone move, plus our children were all in Delaware.  Raph and Gina had come in on Thursday evening to spend some time with us and with old friends.  Lem and Jess were home for Jessica’s brother’s wedding, and Rachel is home for the summer.  I didn’t know all the plans for the kids, but I did know that Daniel had promised weeks ago to help Jimmy and Emma move, and so that pretty much precluded inviting the family here.  Also, as I may detail in another post, things haven’t gone as predicted with my post surgical recovery, so I cannot predict what my energy level will be at a given time.  I decided that I would not invite anyone here for the evening, but would try to get to Harrington for the breakfast.

Last night, when Daniel and I were setting alarm clocks for this morning, I said, “I wonder if I might not want to sleep more than go to breakfast in the morning . . .”  but set it anyhow.  We had decided that we weren’t going to plan for an “immediate family” brunch this morning because of the uncertainty of various family member’s plans, and I was pretty sure that I could go to Harrington and get home before the people who were here would be ready for breakfast.

This morning, when I was getting awake, I looked at the clock and thought that I would have plenty of time to go.  And so I stripped the sheets off my bed, and carried them down and began the morning.  Daniel was sleeping in his chair, and Deborah hadn’t put in her appearance.  Rachel was still in Pennsylvania, since the weather had convinced her that she should just stay put for the night.  She thought she would be home around 9:30.  I had no idea when Raph and Gina had gotten in, but I had stopped and knocked on their door and told them that family brunch was off, and they should sleep as long as they wanted to.  I would fix something when everyone got awake.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that unless someone helped me, I wasn’t going to get done in time to go to the breakfast.  I flew through getting sheets off the beds, into the washer, ladies medicated, gave Cecilia her shower and got her dressed and got the beds made up.  I got Cecilia her breakfast and took care of the various morning chores. I looked across the room at my sleeping husband and wished that Deborah would get up and help me.  I wished that Daniel would get awake and maybe go and call her to come help.  I wished that he would ask if there was something he could do so that I could go.  And I felt sorry for myself as the minutes ticked away and nothing happened.

When 8:15 came and went, I gave up the hope of going.  I knew in my heart that all I had to do was ask, but sometimes, selfishly, pridefully, I want the things that I want to do to be important enough to my family that they offer.    I know, I KNOW!  They are only human.  And I had said that business to Daniel about wanting to sleep.  Plus, I knew that he wanted to go out to the festival at Greenwood Mennonite School as soon as he could get away.  (There were oyster fritter sandwiches and homemade ice cream to be had!)  Deborah had cleaned the kitchen for me the night before, and she wanted to go to the festival, too.  Rachel was coming home,  but she was bringing some friends, and they wanted to go to the festival and then to the beach, for the afternoon.  

And so, I went over it and over it my heart and tried to not be cross and resentful.  I kept telling myself that it really was my own fault.  All I would have had to do was set my alarm a half an hour earlier, planned my time a little bit better, and it would have been clear sailing.  I thought I was handling it really well until, along about 9:15.  Daniel, now awake, asked me what was happening, wasn’t I going to my family breakfast?  That made me suddenly sad to the bottom of my selfish heart, and I wanted to cry and cry.  I kept telling myself that I could respond with grace – that wallowing around in tears wasn’t going to help, but it felt unhelpful and unbelievable to me.  So I didn’t answer, just busied myself with the things at hand and asked God to open my eyes to the blessings of the moment.  Oh, I shed some tears, but I also realized that most of this was my own fault.

I could have planned better.  Nothing beats setting an alarm clock so there is “plenty of time” instead of “just enough.”  I could have asked for help the night before.  Rachel told me that she would have been home earlier if she had known I needed help.  I could have asked for help this morning.  Deborah would have come down and finished the ladies if I had gone upstairs and asked her.  And Daniel would have helped, too, in any way possible, if I had just mentioned it.  It was that old, “Sometimes, I want the things that I want to do to be important enough to my family that they offer” business.  But they can’t know what I really want if I don’t tell them.

And then it’s imperative to look at the blessings that being home brought me.  Raph and Gina didn’t sleep in.  Gina wasn’t feeling well, and they got up and came down far earlier than anticipated.  Because she was feeling so wretched, it gave me a chance to care for her in a way that I am usually unable to. Rachel and her friends came in and I really like to be here when one of our kids comes home — especially if it is the middle of the day.  Then we decided to make some baked oatmeal for those that were here, and suddenly it grew to include extra precious people – one of which I hadn’t seen in years.  I looked around the breakfast table and saw some of my family that is pretty much ALWAYS here, some of my family that is often here, some of my family who is almost never here, and friends who are almost like family and some friends who I see so seldom it was like a precious gift, and decided that the trade-off was worth it.

I’ve been thinking about that old praise song that starts:
“I’m trading my sorrows 
and I’m trading my shame,
and I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord.

I’m trading my sickness,
I’m trading my pain,
I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord.”

I’ve never particularly liked the song because the Chorus is an unending repetition of “Yes, Lord, Yes Lord, Yes, yes, Lord . . . ” until it seems tiring to an old traditionalist like me.  But it occurs to me that to trade my sorrow, pain, resentment, blame and anything that destroys the joy of the Lord, the answer lies in a never ending litany of “Yes, Lord.”

Yes, Lord.  Yes!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



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5 responses to “Oh, This Selfish Heart!

  1. Oh wow -I think that story was made to wake me up. I have done that so many time–not ask for help and feel sorry for myself because I was doing it all–when if I had ask someone would have helped me–I will remember this next time I thinking”poor pitfull me” and thank God for what I have and look for the blessings instead of the bumps in my day !–Thank you

  2. I’ve been amazed at all you get done, in the first place.   Seems to me you always have too much on your shoulders!   I don’t know where you find time to do it all!          NOW!!   I want to know more about that on-going problem about your surgery.

  3. I wish I had the nerve to bare my soul the way you do. I can’t tell you the times I have felt like that. I do remember, however, very early in our marriage when I was overwhelmed and banging pots and pans as I washed dishes so Dick would notice. When he finally wondered what was going on and I told him, he said, “I would have gladly washed the dishes, but I don’t notice things that need to be done the way you do. Just ask me.” I have tried to remember that, sometimes more successfully than others. And about that song, I used to hate all those “yes”es too, until I was singing the song at a time I truly needed to keep saying them. I still lead that song sometimes.

  4. We sing that song at church sometimes, and it does seem like it goes on forever. Maybe that’s like life…….we have to keep saying yes to God. Thanks for sharing. I think we all have days like that.

  5. This blessed me, because I find myself with the same thoughts – wanting my needs to be important enough for the family to see and help without my asking.  What I love about reading your posts is that any time you have difficulties or hard times, you always testify of God’s work in your heart and life! Thank you for your faithfulness!

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