When the twins were born, I was not ready. I had two toddlers, a small rented house, we still had a business downtown (for a few months) and we used software from this paystub example to make payments. We didn’t have a lot of money, we didn’t have a lot of time, we didn’t have any volunteer live in help (worst luck). Life was full. Full of diapers and wipes, lost shoes, crying infants. Leaking milk, croup in the night. My full time job was being touched. I was deliriously tired nursing the twins, and the older two were hardly hands off. It was a time of life when 45 minutes seemed like an eternity, when I might not cry when my husband came in the door and asked how the day was.
This was the year when our toddlers got a bunch of toys for Christmas (the twins were barely one month then) – the kind that had lots of pieces – and I actually packed them into a black garbage bag and hid them behind our bed ( I don’t think they noticed). God had promoted me right out of my comfort zone, and into a new and way more demanding lifestyle – one that I couldn’t help but notice I was not naturally good at. I wanted to start smoking at this time – because when I saw people outside in the cold sucking hard on a cigarette that just really looked good. It looked quiet. And alone. And perfect.
Now I didn’t start smoking, and I didn’t die – although I am sure I suggested I would many times. I cried a lot and I laughed a lot, and I learned a lot. I learned about losing your patience because you haven’t slept like people are supposed to. I learned about asking toddlers to forgive you and trying to explain why to them. I learned not letting my fleshly attitudes win. I learned about how I actually could keep on going when I thought I couldn’t. And at the heart of all this, I learned about God. I learned that there is a tremendous amount of scope for spiritual growth in the home. I learned that far from being a haven of peaceful domestic bliss, the home can be a straight up battlefield for the faith. Believing what God has said, acting in faith, praying for grace, repenting of sins, teaching children to abandon their sins, cleaning bathrooms for the kingdom, loving people close to you when you don’t want to. Children can be a refining fire, burning out all kinds of dross. And God delights in our being purified through this.
That time in my life was physically awful. I was physically stressed, physically broken, physically sleep deprived and physically a major mess. But looking back on it is was spiritually rich. Every one of those very bodily weaknesses drove me to a very spiritual strength in Christ. Physical stress drove me to spiritual peace. Physical brokenness taught me about wholeness in Christ. Physical exhaustion taught me about spiritual renewal. Physical mess drove me to spiritual tidiness. As the house got messier faster, my attitude got tidier quicker. This is because Jesus Christ was there with me. I knew that no matter my situation, Christ was the first answer. If I need sleep and I am angry, it is still sin, and His blood is still the answer. If I am selfish, even if I have my reasons, it is sin, and looking to Christ is the only way out. If I am despairing, I need to look to Christ.
As Christians, we believe that we are both spiritual and physical beings. An illness can drive us to get our soul in order. Bodily trials are like compost for your spiritual garden. We cannot divorce our bodies and our souls from one another. We are whole beings.
This brings me to the heart of what I wanted to say, which is that the first answer, the first response – must always be Jesus Christ. It must always be calling on God and seeking His will. After we have done that, there may be physical helps. Maybe making yourself a cup of coffee would be a good idea. Maybe trying a soothing oil. Maybe magnesium lotion will be great for you. Maybe salts and teas and vitamins and stretches and remedies of diverse origins will help something. But if you haven’t gotten things right with God, maybe they are only clouding the issue. If you are constantly irritated with your children, the answer is Christ – not a lotion, not a bath, not a healthy bacteria. If you don’t feel like loving your husband, maybe you need to ask God to look at your heart first – and maybe looking into the medicine cabinet will only make the actual problem worse.
Imagine a situation where a woman describes to you her symptoms: she is crabby with the kids, really low on energy, can’t sleep, is anxious, feels like giving up, doesn’t like her body, wants to quit, and any other extreme sad time you can think of.
What do you think of first? What help do you offer? Is it an arsenal of oils? A prescription you heard about? A special salt? A scream in the closet? Is it no grain? Is it more fat? Is it vitamin D? Is it an exercise regime? If you ask a room full of Christian women what to do about these things – you will get testimonial after testimonial for products.
The sad truth is that many Christian women have been caught without a testimony to Christ. We don’t treat our worries, our hurts, our stresses like they belong to him.