It’s not been an easy day for me. I hardly slept last night because of physical trials coming from being in the third trimester of pregnancy. This has left me exhausted and emotional today. I don’t think I would mind a sleepless night so much if time would just stand still and hold my responsibilities at bay. But the dust still falls; the fridge gets empty; the floors only get dirtier; the pets are just as demanding, and, well, life happens. I wish I could simply kick back, put my feet up, grab a glass of iced tea and say, “Oh well, I’ll get to it later. Right now I’m going to relax,” as my amazing husband insists that I do. Yet every Swiss fiber in my entire being resists that. I don’t want to leave everything for my husband to do because his responsibilities wait for no man either. I also think that if I take shortcuts now, it will be that much easier to get into a habit of taking shortcuts later. I really only want to ease up when I absolutely have no choice.
Unfortunately, this tendency to not slow down unless the situation is absolutely dire only makes matters worse. My exhaustion leads to tears, which exhaust me more. When I simply can’t complete my to-do list I accuse myself of being a weak person and a terrible wife. This in turn causes me to evaluate everyone else I know and to only see their successes which of course, makes me feel like even more of a failure. I’ve been through this self-critical routine so many times since I’ve been married that I have become quite the expert at it. Admittedly, this is not an area of expertise that makes me proud – only miserable. That’s just it: my problem is pride. My woes sound so sacrificial and laudable. I want to create an organized, clean, happy home for my family. I don’t want my husband to have to do more work than necessary. I don’t want to be lazy. Yet the real heart of the matter is that I want to do it all. I want to fight through my misery and still perform at 100%. I’d like to be that superwife and supermom. I never want to admit defeat, to admit that I can’t always keep it all together and that sometimes my house does get dirty. The heart of the matter is clearly described in Scripture.
In Leviticus 16 God is giving instructions for the Day of Atonement; the day when all of the people’s sins would be forgiven. On this holy day it was said to the people, “…you shall humble your souls, and not do any work…It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls…” What struck me as poignant in these verses is that humility came with resting, and resting came by not doing any work. The souls would not be considered humbled if the people continued working on that day. By continuing to work they would be putting God’s priorities on the back burner and insisting that their work was more important than His commands. Resting forced them to focus on Him rather than on themselves.
I realize that we no longer recognize annual days of atonement since Jesus paid the penalty for our sins once and for all. However, Christ does call us aside for times of introspection, conviction, and repentance, and these times require stillness and humility. We cannot be truly in tune with His still, small voice if we are all a-hustle and a-bustle about our daily business. This thought continues in the New Testament. In chapter 5 of the book of 1 Peter we are commanded to humble ourselves under they mighty hand of God by casting all of our anxiety upon Him. Pride declares that, “I can handle my problems on my own. I don’t need any help.” And so our weary souls wrestle and writhe under the weight of anxiety mixed with the daily demands of our schedules and responsibilities. A humbled soul puts her hands in the air before God and surrenders. She admits that, “I can’t continue to pretend to be able to do it all. I am going to stop working and start listening to your convicting, cleansing voice. Teach me what I must know to live better for you; tell me where I can begin applying your lessons; train me to incorporate Atonement Moments into my routine.”