You know it's a bad sign when you think that your mascara has run and you try to wipe away the smudge with make-up remover only to find out that it's not mascara at all.
Enter in the dark under-eye circles of fatigue.
I'm currently in the process of running myself into the ground, but have seemed to caught myself before it gets to the cry-at-the-slightest-little-thing phase. This, to me, is a huge improvement and it's nice to sit back for a second and realize that I really have learned a thing or two as I have lived my life. My husband and my children, I'm sure, appreciate it, too.
My routine has lately consistent of continuously running around between a graduating Kindergartner (I had NO idea that the end of the year would be THIS insane), a 4 year old that has been out of her 2-day-a-week school for almost 2 weeks, a part-time job, hosting a silent auction at my church, trying to blog and write a new childrens' book, and then all those things like laundry, cleaning sticky messes off kitchen floors, and emptying the litter box. You know bad things can happen when you let certain things go unchecked...
Anyway, I am so tired that I can hardly go to sleep at night because I am so wound up. I get in my bed, close my eyes, and realize that I have neglected to pray, to even acknowledge God in any real way, and the guilt creeps in. Guilt about not praying for my children, for not praying for my friends, for not thanking God enough, for not confessing enough. Sound familiar to anyone? At that point, I would begin to earnestly pray for someone and my train of thought would last a whole time of, oh, 30 seconds. My to-do list would creep in, my oh-&@#! I forgot to do ________ would appear, and the Do you know, I am still mad about ___________ would inevitably rear its ugly head. Needless to say, the prayer time was not productive.
Then, yesterday I had arranged to have both kids at playdates so I could get some work done. I set a "work-until" time and when that was over, I decided I would go have some planned quiet time with God. I opened my devotional, read the the blurb for the day, opened my Bible, and promptly closed my eyes. Overwhelmed by my lack of motivation to study or to even think, I just sat there and breathed. I need my time with You to just be an oasis. I just need to be able to sit here. I have nothing to bring You right now except myself.
I felt prompted to crack open (and dust off the front cover first) a book that has been laying on my nightstand for, um, months called Prayer: Does it Really Matter? by Philip Yancey. I figured out where I left off and began perusing. This quote from Henri Nouwen completely struck me. He writes, sitting in the presence of God for one hour each morning -- day after day, week after week, and month after month, it total confusion and with a myriad of distractions -- radically changes my life. Now, really, at this moment in time, I have no idea where an hour of my day might come from, but the lesson that I felt like God was telling me was that it was not a perfect prayer life that changed Nouwen, but the offering of time. He obviously did not always have the eloquent words or a one-track mind. He openly confessed that distraction and mundane feelings of unproductivity interrupted or inhibited that lofty goal of having a miraculous encounter with God. Knowing that my prayer life does not have to feel like striving, that the end product does not have to be glistening and gleaming, that God will accept me, imperfections and all, makes me just want to sink down in His lap. He is not something to check off on my to do list, but rather He is a sanctuary where I can find rest. He is an oasis in a dry and barren land. He is a Counselor that makes me lie down in green pastures and beside still waters. He is the restorer of my soul.
When I perceive my relationship with Him as this, I hunger for the relaxation that He brings. He does not necessarily take things off my plate, but having balance in my soul brings more balance and perspective in the daily ins and outs of my life. He is no longer a chore, or a stern teacher that mandates that I do my homework. He is not a boss that breathes down my neck, demanding perfection. He is a Father who welcomes me even when I have nothing but a small offering of time to give Him.