What Do You Say to Friends Like These?

I sat there with two of my best girlfriends, Katie and Melinda, and wept as I admitted to them, “I am on fumes when it comes to parenting right now, guys. I am just stuck. Tired.” I took a deep breath and continued. “And, right now? I don’t much like being a mom.”

Dana Bowman (right) and friend Katie at a book signing for "Bottled," Bowman's recounting of her struggle with alcoholism.

Dana Bowman (right) and friend Katie at a book signing for “Bottled: How to Survive Early Recovery.”

Katie and Melinda knew me way back when I first became a follower of Jesus. We don’t get to see each other very often, but we were with each other during the push and pull of new marriages, new relationships with Christ, fresh heartbreak, heady romance, all of it. We did life together while we were still forming what our lives were really going to be about, and because of that, we are there for each other. These girls are Jesus for me, walking and praying and laughing with me, and at that moment, crying with me.

So when I made my confession, they nodded. They got it. And we ordered more coffee and talked until late in the night and worked some stuff out. And at some point in the evening, Katie said, “We need to get over the thought that our children are imposing on our lives.”

And Melinda added, “You know, back when I didn’t have kids (and we all nodded and sighed a bit here because this was when EVERYTHING was so different, like looking back and seeing ourselves living on a totally different planet) I had all these great ideas about how I was going to be just the—“

“-Best mom ever?” I interrupted. I interrupt a lot. Katie and Melinda love me anyway.

She nodded. And added, “And then, I-“

“Actually HAD the kids?” Again, with the interrupting. We laughed. But she finally got to make her point. Kids don’t go as planned. They are loud and they impose and they mess with us. And still, we cannot give up. We don’t get to say, “You are squirreling it all up, this life of mine. Go be a kid somewhere else.”

Romans 15:5 tells us God will give us endurance for those days when we feel it is all too much. If only it stopped as an incomplete sentence, May the God who gives endurance and encouragement But it doesn’t. The so-called blessing/prayer/exhortation continues, give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. – Romans 15:5

The second part would get left out if I was going to cross stitch Romans 15:5 on a pillow. If anybody asked, I’d just tell them I ran out of thread. But just like I don’t get to tell my kids to go be kids somewhere else, I don’t get to decide whether I really need to have the same attitude as Jesus. I don’t get to say, “You are squirreling it all up, this life of mine. Go be God somewhere else.” Not if I say I love Jesus.

Jesus has been nagging me a lot about that lately. Several days before I called Katie and Melinda, he started in on me as I lay on the floor, unable to feel the lower half of my body. As part of several self-improvement New Years resolutions I had proudly made and which included praying more and reading the Bible more, I committed to getting in shape. So I had been working out along with a ponytailed, chirpy little blond DVD fitness instructor who I was determined to look like, albeit an older, brown-haired, more sarcastic version.

exercise womanShe was chirping me through a HIIT routine. HIIT is a very apt acronym for ‘high intensity interval training.’ This kind of torture is also called “burst” training because when you do it you burst all your blood vessels, and you die. Every time I attempt it, my fading final thoughts are that my floor is covered in cat fur, and I should have vacuumed before EMS comes for me.

But it was Jesus who showed up speaking in that still small non-chirping voice that suggested I look up Romans 15:5. I said I’d look it up later and filed the thought away. Now, it is important to note here that ninety percent of the time when I rely on “I’ll do that later” mental filing system for something, the tidbit is gone forever because my brain is tired and I have small children. My children suck thoughts right out of me like little brain-eating vacuum cleaners.

But as the day progressed, I kept thinking, Romans 15:5. Look it up. Washing up the dishes: the verse hummed in my head. Walking the dog: my footsteps counted out fifteens and fives. And lo, as the day continued, Romans 15:5 became my background music, until finally I decided to look it up in my Bible. And there it was, with all that wonderful encouragement and that no-so-wonderful exhortation that reminded me that the world was not about me even if my resolutions were.

And there it was, with all that wonderful encouragement and that no-so-wonderful exhortation that reminded me that the world was not about me even if my resolutions were.

So I changed my resolutions and now resolve to reach out. I am going to do life with my kids, not in spite of them. I will walk with my husband, not around him, even when I just want to complain because I am constantly crawling over his huge shoes and stuff that is taking over my cute house. I resolve to step out of me and into them.

And I also resolve to spend more time with my girlfriends. It’s not for me; it’s for my family. Those girls are like vitamins for the soul. They provide better personal training than that ponytailed girl with all her lunges and perkiness. And for that I am very grateful

Just last Sunday I spied on my sweet five-year -old singing “Jesus Loves Me” as he wandered out of his Sunday School class. He was so adorable, all lispy and little, and the light of Jesus just seemed to glow all around him as he sang. He was learning one of the most basic lessons that Jesus teaches: He loves us. Very much.

And then, five minutes later, sweet, spiritual Henry was yelling at his brother and the lesson seemed to be lost.

I’ll be calling Katie and Melinda. I make a note to call Katie and Melinda….

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About the Author

Dana Bowman is a wife, mother, teacher, writer, and runner. She has been published in numerous magazines, and is the proud author at Momsieblog.com. Her book, Bottled: How to Survive Early Recovery, published by Central Recovery Press, is now available. One day, she hopes to master the skill of making sure all dessert apportionment is completely equal.

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