The Queen Must Die

It was Sunday morning. I thought it would be nice to serve country style ribs with fried rice for dinner that evening so I took the meat out of the fridge and prepped the crock pot.

My beautiful niece had driven 16 hours across the country with her grandmother the day before. Now she was standing in my kitchen.

“Do you like ribs?” I asked.

“I don’t eat beef.” She answered from the other side of the kitchen island.

“No problem, these are pork.”

“I’m a pescetarian.”

You’re a Presbyterian? Since when?! At least that’s what my brain asked. It took a few seconds to access the part of my brain that knew what a pescetarian was, or at least thought it knew.  Pesce…fish! Got it!

 “Well, we don’t have any fish.” I said with as much coolness as I could shovel.

 “Oh, well I’ll eat chicken if I have to.”

The meat returned to the refrigerator and I turned the crock pot off.

I was shaking now. I don’t know if she could see my body trembling, but I knew I had to get out of the kitchen before I made a scene. The shaking wouldn’t stop. Waves of anxiety and panic came crashing over me. I couldn’t make it stop, even as I got ready for church. I told myself to get a grip.

The controlling pleaser in me raged.  Internally she screamed “Welcome to the Huffaker family food freak show!!!! We’re gluten free and dairy free!!! Some don’t like pork, some don’t like anything spicy, and now this!!! We don’t eat fish. I don’t even know how to cook it! How could she do this to me?”

So ugly. This part of me that’s driven to be everything to everyone even when they don’t ask…or care. This part of me who has mentally whipped my backside for not getting it right. Every. Single. Time. It’s all about me. All of the time. So ugly.

I sat mostly silent in the car on our way to church. Even after I had vented my frustration to my husband, I couldn’t stop shaking. I knew I was in trouble. I knew I needed to be in the sanctuary. Surely the music would help calm me down. I bawled through the first three songs. Then came the worship leader’s invitation to go to the sides of the sanctuary for prayer. I felt the tug of war…I needed to go forward for prayer, but felt embarrassed that I needed to go forward for prayer.

Maybe you’ve been there.

It was now or never. Head down, I left my seat and walked to the side of the sanctuary where I confided that I was having an anxiety attack. I withheld as much detail as possible.  A man and his wife put their arms around me like I was their own daughter and began to pray up a storm. For me. Though I didn’t deserve it, peace washed over me. When the prayer time was over, I went back to my seat with hands raised high worshiping and thanking God for His undeserved grace and mercy where a good spanking might have been in order.

That morning my pastor just happened to be preaching on stress. I took good notes on how Jesus dealt with stress. Jesus couldn’t please everyone. I mean, I sort of knew that…after all, there’s that whole cross thing…but I don’t think I ever thought about the fact that He was OK with it. It seems so unchristian, but then again, Jesus wouldn’t have had a meltdown over whether or not someone was a pescetarian. No he would not.

Why do I think I can do what Jesus couldn’t?

These words are written in my notebook: Nic, kill the approval addiction.

It has to go, this fear of disappointing people…of not being able to be exactly what everyone needs all of the time.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be kept safe. Proverbs 20:25 NIV

{A snare metaphorically is something that allures one from his real purpose and then destroys him.}[1]

My real purpose is to be free to worship God and love people. Seeking approval or fearing I’ll disappoint them is more than a distraction, it’s a trap. Someone has to die. The people-pleasing-approval-addicted-center of the universe Queen of stress has to die before she kills me. The drama she creates is a threat to the ones I love.  It’s time to stop creating hoops to jump through so I can be free to love better. People, real people that I love (like my beautiful niece) need me to be free.

That afternoon brought home a few groceries from the store which included a package of frozen fish for my niece. She explained to me how she liked it cooked and I told her she was welcome to anything in the kitchen that she would need to prepare her fish. I felt like I was going to throw up the entire time I talked, but I did it.

You see, we can pray and beg God to change us. We can ask for forgiveness. We can accept His grace, but then we have to walk in it. We have to move forward and take a risk. We have to feel the weight of not being everything to everyone. We feel it. We take some deep breaths. And then we realize beautiful grace is standing on the other side of the kitchen island smiling back at us, grateful for something to eat. It’s going to be OK.



[1] Hartley, J. E. (1999). 906 יָקֹשׁ. In R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (399). Chicago: Moody Press.

You’re Not Trapped

My seventh grader’s school year ended about a month earlier than intended. It did not end well. In fact, it didn’t turn out like I thought it would at all.

I’ve been trying to home school my sons for a few years. Last fall it became very apparent that my youngest son did not want to be home schooled anymore and I was really OK with that. We made a few phone calls and enrolled him in a local Christian school. It wasn’t easy for me to admit defeat (again), but it was what he needed. It was what I needed. And I really thought it was going to fix everything.

But it didn’t.

Before my boys were school aged I had made a decision to home school them. I knew several other mothers who were doing it and looked like it was a really good thing for their family. I needed to do something good for my family. You see, I was falling apart and not mothering well. My solution at that time was to just do what the good moms were doing and everything would be OK. I tried teaching my kindergartner for about six weeks before realizing something was very wrong. He had a learning disability that I couldn’t recognize. Instead, I assumed it was because I wasn’t doing it right which made my depression even worse. I didn’t know how to get out of the mess I had made.

I didn’t know how to ask for help. Asking for help would alert everyone that I did NOT have a clue how to teach my child. Asking for help would expose me for the mothering mess that I was. I felt trapped. Months went by while I spiraled deeper into depression because I couldn’t fix it.

So now my boys are older, and by the grace of God, I’m not quite the mess I used to be. We have options. We’ve learned some tough lessons along the way.

But it’s still hard to ask for help.

I recently sat down with our home school coordinator and told her how things were going. I told her how my plan to fix everything had failed. I told her that the future plan is to home school both boys unless God provides another solution. The rapture sounds pretty good. I explained how I really just want to facilitate their education. I’m willing to write checks for tutoring or whatever it takes. And then I said the words I’ve been afraid to say to her for 8 years. I don’t like teaching. I don’t. There, I said it.

I waited for her to fall off of her chair or for some denim jumper wearing home schooling mom flash mob to drag me to the dungeon.  It never happened. Instead, she encouraged me by telling me she has friends who feel the same way. Never once did she look at me and say, “You’re right. You can’t do this. You are a failure and I’m calling the school district right now.”

We spent the next hour or so talking about some creative ways to educate teenaged boys while fleshing out the doubt and fear in my heart. It was incredibly helpful.

Now, I wish I had something fantastic to write here about how I woke up this morning with a burning desire to teach my kids and feed their minds with Latin and Shakespeare. That’s not my reality. I will tell you that I don’t feel quite as desperate this morning. It feels good to have admitted that I’m not a hard core educator like it appears most of the other moms in our group are. For the past 5 years I have gone to every single meeting wishing I could wear a t-shirt that says “I Love My Kids Most When They Are At School”. When educational ideas for co-ops were passed around and my turn to volunteer for something (anything) would arrive, I would ask if there were going to be any parties. I kid you not.

And yet, for reasons I do not understand, this is something that God has not released me from. So I need to hang on to that if He has called me to do this, that He alone will equip me to do it. With help. And that the way we educate doesn’t need to look anything like the way other people do it. We’re not trapped. We’re free. Do you know that?

You’re not trapped. You’re free.

I’d like to pray for us:

Heavenly Father, You know our every weakness and still, You call us to do things that are beyond our skill set not to make us look foolish or weak, but so that You can show your power and might. Kill the pride that keeps us from asking for help. You have not set a trap for us, but have set us free to live for You and to trust You with every area of our lives. Strengthen our hands to do the work that You have called us to do. Renew our minds so that we don’t have to spiral downward into depression because we think there’s no way out. I thank you for the encouragement I received yesterday and ask that You spread it beyond this page to every person who needs it. In the powerful name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

 

Grace to Start Fresh

Have you ever wanted to run away from your life?

Before completing the mentoring program at House of Hope depression overwhelmed me and made it nearly impossible to focus on anything other than myself. Shame told me that if anyone knew about my depression, I would be rejected and alone. The best way to prevent being rejected was to get out of town. I wanted to move in the worst way and told my husband so nearly every day. He’d ask me where I wanted to move and my answer was always the same, “Wyoming”. I didn’t know anyone there. It seemed like a safe state for us to move. Of course, the industry that he works in didn’t have any employment opportunities in Wyoming, but I didn’t care. I wanted to start over.

A few months later we bought a house a couple of blocks away from the apartment we had lived in for almost five years. So much for starting over.

The morning we went to pick up our U-Haul truck I noticed the state on the side of the rig my husband was walking toward. Wyoming. I couldn’t help but laugh and wipe away the tears. The Lord made it very clear that he had heard my request but instead of allowing me to run away, he was giving me the grace to start fresh right where I was.

God can do a new thing with the old you right where you are.

Keep your eyes open for God,

watch for his works;

be alert for signs of his presence. Psalm 105:4 The Message

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