Weariness did not even begin to describe the bone-deep exhaustion I was feeling. Lifting the weight of my body off of my bed in the mornings felt like an impossible task. Three hormonal teenagers, a busy 8-year-old, Clay with a ruptured disc that caused him excruciating pain with each step; a book deadline; a daughter in and out of the hospital being tested for a brain tumor, and my mom falling and breaking her hip were just a few of the issues that occupied my thoughts each day.
Resentment was exploding inside my brain.
"No one appreciates all that I am doing to keep this family together. Cooking, washing, teaching, caring for everyone, running them to appointments, lessons, doctors and listening beyond midnight to teens pouring out their angst… " and I added to the lists of depleting responsibilities in my mind.
This fueled my frustration with Clay, lying next to me in bed, and having the audacity to not seem to be noticing my burdens.
The sun was just beginning to peek through the crack in the window curtain, reminding me that there was little time left to sleep. I was sending Clay "evil, selfish thoughts" inside my heart, hoping somehow he could feel the grimace on my face, when the Holy Spirit gently nudged my conscience.
"He needs you to encourage him. He is so discouraged because of bills, pain, and the insecurities of life all around him."
"Seriously, Lord?! I am the one needing encouragement!"
I argued for a moment. But then, slowwwwwly, I forced my arm to reach over to him and gently scratch his back.
"I just want you to know that I really love you and respect how bravely you have born your ruptured disc. I know you are in such pain every day, but I am praying for you," I softly whispered, in sheer obedience to God.
Quietly, almost imperceptibly, he responded,
"I am so relieved. You have every right to be mad at me. I thought you were disappointed in me for not paying attention to you or taking care of you. But I have been so down about the overwhelming issues in our lives and constantly in pain, and I have not meant to neglect you--there is just so much going on. Thank you for being patient with me. I really appreciate you and love you."
And he reached over and gently embraced me before crawling out of bed, grimacing with the pain of moving.
I turned over and slowly slipped out of bed, donned my well-worn robe, and padded quietly toward the kitchen for my first cup of caffeine.
As I reached our bedroom door, I suddenly saw my little one laying quietly on our bedroom floor, cuddled in a comforter and staring up thoughtfully from a soft pillow.
"Mama, I was sleeping here because I had a real bad dream, but I knew you were so tired I didn't want to wake you up. But I heard you and Daddy talking just now. It made me feel happy to hear you all comforting each other and saying, 'I love you.' I want a marriage just like you rswhen I grow up---where my wife and I love each together and are partners in life. That would be so much fun to live with your best friend."
Reader … I didn't know anyone was there, listening. I am so glad I didn't lash out or give vent to my feelings of frustration that morning. I realized you just never know when your children are listening or watching, or in what moments they are shaping their view of marriage and life. I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit’s nudge to my heart that day, and pray you are able to feel it, too.