complaining experiment :: when it gets messy | part 2

It’s the second week of the complaining experiment and it happens to be Valentine’s Day too! They are totally connected, but I’ll have to explain that in a minute.

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I wish I had some awesome news of great progress to report this week, but it didn’t happen. I think this project is going so much deeper than I thought it would. The first full week was apparently “open your eyes” week, because I had no idea just how easily complaints roll off my tongue. Ick.

I had a great weekend and a sad one all in one. Starting Friday, my body was giving me lots of signs of exhaustion- achiness,  grumpiness, the ineffectiveness of caffeine {!}, tired mind, you know what that feels like, right? I’m no good at resting at home- so I figured a day trip out with the fam would be good for me, but it ended up being even worse. {I know, I know!}.

I failed at the complaining experiment totally and completely. I was tired, I just wanted everything to be easier {going to Dallas with four kids with a ready-to-sell perfectly mud free car to meet someone who doesn’t show up on time...mm hmm, not easy, Mandy}, and by the time Sunday afternoon rolled around I ended up in a crying heap on the laundry room floor, sobbing about how many loads of laundry I had to finish and how many crayon wrappers were all over the house, and how I will NEVER be done.

Real. Life.

Not so pretty.

I had some major confessing to do with my Lord this week. I’m realizing a lot of things this month. So much ugliness comes out when I’m pressed and pushed to my limits. I just hate seeing it. It’s awful.

Last week I was so happy to be a mother, thanking God for the privilege and blessing- so filled with joy {seriously, no joke!}, and not even three days later I’m bawling, digging through the wet clothes, looking for a Hot Wheels car that was banging up my dryer, wondering why I brought all of this on myself.

Sometimes I think extreme joy catches the attention of Satan, so he brings it hard and heavy, and in just the right way to make you want to give up on it all. He wants to make life not worth living. He hates real joy.

It was a rough weekend, but the Lord is restoring my joy in being here, in motherhood again this week. It’s such a crazy ride, and part of me doesn’t even want to share this side of it, because it’s awful and messy, but I know I need to. This is life. And it isn’t always crazy happiness or struggle-free, you know?

So, for week two of the experiment here are real-life things – pictures of life this morning. They are the scenes that normally bring me to complaining and here’s why they really should not: :)

This sink full of dirty dishes means:

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I have this amazing family to share a wonderful Valentine’s meal with:

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This creative painting of the toilet seat with my foundation brush and toilet water:

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and the sneaky drinking and pouring out of my soda on the table:

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means I have a beautiful, very busy little two-year-old.

These piles of laundry:

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mean I care for five lovely people, four of which are healthy and growing like weeds, all of whom get to change into clean clothes every day.

And the buckets of toys, the piles of clothes gathered from the house this morning, and food stacked and waiting to be put away on the dressers:

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all mean I spent yesterday with my family grocery shopping and then went on an amazing surprise Valentine’s date with my husband last night instead of cleaning. :)

And the tiny bits of paper all over the floor:

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mean I have busy, content little children using their hands and creativity to cut up all kinds of paper and make their Valentine’s cards today. :)

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It’s funny that this post comes on V-day- I’ve learned this week that complaining has so much to do with love, actually.

I complain because I love...

myself.

And more than anyone else.

I’m inconvenienced, I’m put-out, I’m unhappy because things aren’t going the way I like them.

I’m not fulfilling the command to love my neighbor as myself- I’m still putting myself first when I complain.

I need the Lord to change my heart- to be the heart of my love for others. My own sinful, human love doesn’t even come close to obeying this law.

I love that He is Love. That He showed us the way to love:

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 1 John 3:16.

I need Him so desperately in this place. My sinful flesh fails me. I stink at this.

I need Him every single day.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  1 John 4:10-11

Praise Him for His sacrifice- for Him taking my place- for Him doing the work that I cannot do. I’m so praying that He will do His work in my heart- that He won’t let me go until He finishes the work He has started. It’s a messy job, and I’m so thankful He loves me enough to show me my sin.

Oh, sweet Father,

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Thank you, Lord Jesus for your mercy that is new every morning. And every week.

 

Do you have weeks like this too? Highs and lows in your journey of motherhood on a weekly {daily!} basis?

41 comments

Erica said...

Thank you for this. It was so real and it was everything I needed to hear right now. I love the pictures of how life isn't perfectly perfect all the time.

Mkovacs1210 said...

wow! well i am not yet a mom but i completely identify with your sentiment today...on v-day :) and God has been gently dealing with my selfish heart throughout the day as well. i love the photo reflection and the praises you shared. thanks for writing a very honest blog...i feel very encouraged by the things you say all the time!

Michelle Wimp said...

OH! did u sell the van? hope so.

mandyBH said...

not yet! :D

mandyBH said...

thank you Kyla! :)

kimmya said...

I needed to read this today! I hopped over here from your post today and hopped all around and ended up on this and Im so glad I did...I have been trying to figure out how to redecorate the kids bathroom on a budget and you would think I was trying to plan a wedding...I called my wise mom and she told me exactly what to do and it was that easy..she told me "dont sweat the small stuff" and although I "know" that I was still whining and complaining b/c my husband wasnt appreciating what I wanted to do!lol It was all about self and and I can totally see that and feel silly for complaining now...with spring cleaning now also comes those feelings again and I will need to be on guard against it!! Love your blog and appreciate your willingness to share a pic into your life with your little blessings and your home being not so perfect:)

mandyBH said...

Love that, Crystal! It's so hard sometimes, and its so good to see the big picture like you said!

Christine said...

I didn't read this the day you posted it, but today, when I really needed it! Thank you for your transparency and godly insight!

Claire rose said...

Don't you love not being perfect? I do!! I'm your newest imperfect follower-stop by for a visit!!

Luann said...

i have been dealing with this from the anger aspect. and i see the connection with complaining/love.

also, i wanted to offer something that i believe our Lord has showed me. you touched on how one week you were full of joy and then the next week there was emotion and more noticeable struggle shall we say?

i very much believe we have a responsibility to know our bodies. and as women that includes our cycles. i know my cycle and i *know* that ovulation time is sensitive for me. knowing this is a tool-if i utilize it ;) i prepare and keep it in mind as i go about the day and struggle/feel things 'more so'. AND I embrace it! i allow the emotion. it's needed! it's in no way excusing anything, it's preparing for it, because we know it's coming and can avoid being caught off guard.

i think there is much to this :)

Robin said...

Ammmm... YES! Oh my goodness, this post is so timely. I've been in the exact same place this week. Crazy how when you begin working on something, you suddenly become aware of how difficult it truly is! I've also been struggling with the mundane of being a SAHM - laundry, cleaning, cooking, disciplining kids & solving arguments, repeat, repeat, repeat... thankful to know that I'm not alone, because the enemy loves to tell me, "You are the only one. Everyone else has it together." Not true. Thankful for sisters in Christ (you!) and for a forgiving, kind, patient heavenly Father.

Luann said...

so i share this for the possibility it could in any way be involved/help :)

jesse hudson said...

Great post. So true about how complaining comes out when we put ourselves first. This is a good reminder. I'm doing an experiment (I'm calling it a challenge) very similar to yours. Check it out!
http://www.amynjesse.com/2012/02/30-days-of-encouraging-your-husband_14.html

(Jesse is my hubby's name). I'm Amy from Sugar and Spice. :)

Kris said...

I'm right there with ya, sister! My kiddos are 7, 5, 3, and 1 and I've found myself overwhelmend (and complaining!) more than once already today...and it's only lunchtime! Loved this post so much...it's so helpful to know that I'm not alone! I adore your blog! And you are too cute for words :)

Lauren McIntire said...

I think motherhood is nothing but highs and lows. And I really think that anyone who says otherwise may not be living in reality because anything worth doing is never easy. How will you ever learn anything if motherhood were just a cake walk?

I am so inspired by this post! Kudos to you for going through this experiment. I know I also spend, waste is probably the right word, too much time complaining. This was something I needed to hear and thank you for sharing! You've actually given me the motivation to give up complaining for lent =)

Jerri said...

Thanks for your honesty. As moms we want to be SUPER MOM when all our families want is for us to be there for them when they need us most. I love your blog.

Cheryl @ Moms In Need of Mercy said...

Last week, I had such a "high" motherhood day, too. I blogged about it here...http://momsinneedofmercy.blogspot.com/2012/02/living-in-your-annointing.html
Actually, it was a fresh dose of encouragement from the Lord after a rough day, about how we are empowered to be the moms He has called us to be. Then, feeling on top of the world, like Supermom in His supernatural strength, I had such a bad day...the struggle against sin--to raise my voice, to say harsh things to my children...I was fighting against it. I need to blog about that too and what I learned from it. We are all works in progress in Christ. Thanks be to God that He gives us the VICTORY in Christ Jesus!

Kim said...

You sound just like me:) but as a mom when we put your children to sleep, and kiss their faces goodnight you know that tomorrow is a new day and you can start fresh :) Thats what helps me. The laundry will ALWAYS be there, dishes will ALWAYS be there ETC... but I always try to remember that God will never give me more than I can handle. :) So keep your chin up, you are doing a great job. HAPPY VALENTINES DAY !!!

Kelli@eatpray{read}love said...

Oh wow, oh wow. What a beautifully written post. Sometimes it seems as though you are reading my mind.
Thank you for your obedience for sharing your honest feelings, even when it's not easy.

Hisglorygirl said...

YES! Highs and lows. Highs so high I think my mommy heart will burst with joy and lows so low I wonder if I can do anything right. How wonderful of God to remind us of the goodness in the midst of the yuck. Hope your week is full of the joyful moments!

Erica Frisk said...

It's so encouraging for me to read this and it hits on a very personal level. As you've seen over at my blog, we have a pretty crazy life too. I find myself complaining in my head when I'm sweeping the kitchen floor for the thousandth time about how I'll be sweeping 4 times a day for the next 20 years and then taking it out on everyone around me. I, too, need to stop and seek God and be so very thankful for the absolutely wonderful blessing that He has given me. Don't worry, I'm definitely with you on this journey.
friskpartyoffive.blogspot.com

Karen said...

Wow. Found this from The Nester. I'm so glad I stumbled by. I complain for the exact reasons you stated. It's either because I'm inconvenienced or late, and usually both.

Kaiekrn said...

I love this challenge that you put forth my 4 boys (ages 8,6,2,and 6 mths) keep me busy and I have to learn to appreciate that it comes with the territory.

My suggestion would be for you to consider reading the 1000 gifts book a little sooner in your year then where you have it on your schedule. I found it to be quite helpful in living in the chaos and appreciating the moments everyday.

Melissa said...

I loved this post! I love how you contrast your complaint with what that complaint really means - you have a happy thriving family! I have the same struggles every day.

Something that's been helping me recently is to try thinking more globally. Meaning, when I'm complaining in my head about the toys strewn all over the floor or my child's picky eating, etc, etc, etc, I try to think about what a trivial problem these things really are. If I was born in another country (or even in this country but in a different situation!), my problems might be things like not knowing where my child's next meal is coming from or not having a home to live in. You know! Ultimately, we're incredibly blessed.

Thank you so much for sharing your struggles!

Keri Baker said...

I can completely and totally and with all of my being relate to this post!!! I had a breakdown yesterday. And I need Him so badly...I fail, fail, fail. But I believe sometimes that's why He allows me to find myself in a heap on the floor, broken. Because I never want to forget that I need Him, I never want to feel like I'm in control and can do this all on my own. I want to need Him, so I will always run to Him and keep growing more and more in love with Him.

Thank you for sharing your "real". You are so beautiful, inside and out, and the lives of others can seem to be perfection from the outside, so it's encouraging to see your "messes".

Abbie (Five days... 5 ways) said...

Psalm 29:14 is one of my favorite verses, but it's also one of the hardest. Good reminder. on a lighter note, you said, "4 of which are healthy and growing..." and my brain immediately started going, "Oh no! Who's not healthy???! What's wrong?" The "and growing..." part filtered in, and I breathed a big sigh of relief, but for a second there, I was worried.

Dayspringdawning said...

Thank you so much for sharing! I so appreciate the connection between complaining and love...I complain because I love myself. Well said. Just this weekend, I started to complain about the laundry...and then reminded myself that laundry means I still have children in my home who need clean clothes. As my two oldest boys are in their teens...I realize those days may be numbered. It's amazing how gratefulness can change our perspective. One of my favorite quotes is "Your feelings will always follow your thoughts." Thus, it's best to change our thoughts rather than consult our feelings. Thanks again. I really appreciate your honesty and encouragement as a sister in Christ.

Elfinspired said...

I SO relate! Are you my (better looking) twin??? :) It's so true about Satan trying to rob our joy! We had a strange, 'under attack' day yesterday. One thing after another. I am grateful and joyful, though. The joy of the Lord is my strength! I see myself in your words. And I am encouraged. (Even though my dirty laundry pile "wins" over yours! Neener-neener! :))

Elfinspired said...

You are right! Almost 35 years and I am just now finally cluing in to this! Hormones ARE real! When they kick in, it is certainly added 'opportunity' to glorify God with my attitude --- because it is not easy! I'm getting better at allowing myself to 'rest in Him' and not beating myself up with guilt for letting myself slow down and be still during that time monthly. I am not called to be super woman. I should make a t-shirt for myself with that slogan! :)

Crystalr410 said...

It is so nice to hear that others have the same feelings. My kids are 4, 6 and 8 and I can have a good week or bad week, sometimes even all that in the same day. I struggle with the "work" of being a stay at home mom. no one likes to clean and do laundry, especially when you turn around it has piled up again immediately after! I love my family and know that staying home is best for us, so I need to remember all the fun things we get to do together to tide me over during the mundane chores or breaking up the squabbles (while tiptoeing through the minefield of things strewn all over the floor! floor! :)

Kyla said...

It was so nice to read this - exactly what I needed to hear! It's so easy to let little annoyances get me down. How refreshing to see you turn those things into positive. Love you site by the way!

Charissa said...

This spoke to my heart, Mandy. Thank you for sharing!

Michelle Wimp said...

acknowledging where you are weak is a strong point, and it makes our kids see that it's ok to mess up and try again, to love imperfect people cause we are all imperfect. changing something is just that ~ change ~ it is H-A-R-D, and we are gonna fail at it, but know that you have a family that shows compassion, love and forgiveness is what helps us try it again and again, next week will be less messy.

Anonymous said...

Every time i read one of your post, I think, "yes, exactly!" You have such a way with words! So many mom's out there can relate and NEED to hear that they are not the only ones sobbing in the laundry room!!!! That was me last night! I read your posts and think, "o.k. so I can do this. I am not perfect, nor anyone for that matter!!! Keep up the good work-we need more inspiring posts to motivate us through this blessed journey we call "motherhood!"

Sunni said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and this is just what I needed! I'm struggling with the same thing, only I didn't realize that it was the issue until I found this post. Something has just not been right in my spirit... it's my complaining. And you are right, it's because I am inconvenienced. Whew! I'm going to take this challenge. I want freedom!

Lindy Johnson said...

I have been praying in my quiet time with the Lord about complaining vs. thankfulness, but I haven't sat down and put it into action. I am constantly asking for forgiveness for my attitude, but not doing anything about it. I balled my eyes out reading this. I appreciate your transparency. It was the motivation I needed. I even complain about dishes, despite the sign above my sink that reads, "I thank God for dirty dishes, for they have a story to tell, while other families go hungry, ours is eating very well. With Love and health and happiness, we shouldn't want to fuss, by this stack of evidence, God's been very good to us!" It all boils down to selfishness as you said. I should be dying to myself everyday for my husband and children. I even thought I should go back to work, that I wasn't doing a good job at home. And the same thing for me, just a few days ago, I had such encouragement and joy in my heart...I think you're right, satan saw that and just attacked me. I appreciated that perspective. Thank you for your honesty and your ministry! God sent me here at the exact moment I was feeling this for a reason!

Cheryn Archer said...

Ack, I so needed this! I've been taking this journey myself. It's certainly not an overnighter, I'm discovering. And it's it true that when you decide to make a change, it seems that ever obstacle known to man-kind pops up in your way?! Stay strong!

chuckabean said...

I complain because I love...

myself.

You probably won't make much money, but you should put that little nugget of truth on a series of "home decorating items" Very good blog.

Alison Mertz said...

I just stumbled upon your blog/God led me to it through a friend's facebook post, and wow, thank you for sharing and being so honest. I just recently went back to work part-time, and my complaining and feeling like I'm drowning in laundry and dirty dishes has taken over my mind quite frequently. I so appreciate your photos, and your recharacterizations of what could be complaining moments. I just ordered the Women Living Well book. Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping me find my way back to my center, and feel the craving for God that has been building in my heart.

Sandra Phillips said...

Wow Mandy, I love this post. I have been having this feeling of unworthiness and defeat by Satan in motherhood and as a wife. I will sit down to study in God's word and feel so refreshed in what God is revealing to me and his teaching then later that day I will start thinking these thoughts of unworthiness and thoughts assuming things my husband and children don't love about be and they literally bring me to tears. It is ALL lies. I believe it is warfare attack when we see things God desires us to do Satan doesn't want us to flourish as moms and wives and he certainly doesn't want us rebuking him and praying for our kids and husband and standing with God's word against his attacks on our family. I really needed this, I have felt such an oppression from Satan and every time I rebuke him, later he tries attacking me and I wasn't sure if they were really true or lies from him, I am convinced now more than ever that I am doing what is right in God and Satan doesn't want me too because he loses!! I truly believe as moms and wives we need to be in prayer over our families this day and age and protect them from Satan's attacks. Thank you so much for sharing so honestly in this post, God bless you richly sister in Christ!!!!

Anonymous said...

Is there a part 3?? Like how do you get out of complaining, I never thought complaining would be self centerness.. this is news to me, it makes sense, but I would like to understand more deeply.. what if you feel you havent gotten the chance to live out some basic --rights-- such as your own house for your marriage, chose the place you live..etc..