I have been thinking about my post from last Monday for over a week. While I am glad my realism was a blessing to some, I also realize that the reality is....I am such a wimp! My biggest daily struggles are with appliances, whiny kids, my weight, and cold weather. Really? How pathetic.
That's not to say I haven't had my big struggles in life. I have and throughout the years on this blog, you have seen some of those struggles. But, it's how I respond to the day to day irritants that prove my character. Sadly, I find that I am of weak and poor character.
I have thought much on women in my life who daily face real challenges - not just irritants and annoyances, but situations that are heart-breaking, stressful, and truly discouraging. These women are REAL...they may complain, they may cry, but they press on. Often, they face these challenges without words of encouragement or prayer support from me or anyone else. They cling to God and Him alone. They may reach the point of despair, but they don't quit. I think of these women and am ashamed for my pettiness.
My mother: Her husband left her. She held three jobs at one time (one of which was cleaning toilets in our church and school). She saved every penny to be able to bless her three children with private education, college, dinners at nice restaurants to celebrate a successful school year, and even mini-vacations. She worked long hours. She dealt with difficult bosses who made her life miserable. She married and divorced again. Yet, she kept on smiling and she continues to smile and praise God.
My missionary friend in Honduras: She followed her husband with 7 (eventually, 9) children in tow around the country on deputation for three years in a fifth wheel trailer. She moved to the other side of the world to New Zealand and had two more babies. She lived in cramped quarters, worried for the safety of her children, tried to dry clothes on the line in extreme humidity. She took in a little girl and cared for and loved her as her own, only to have to leave her in NZ when they came back to the States, not knowing it would be for the last time. The Lord prevented their return to NZ and led them to Honduras - where her heart breaks frequently as orphan children are left on her doorstep and as she takes them to doctors and cares for them in 3rd world hospitals. She has moved at least 4 times in 2 years. Sometimes she has a washing machine, but most times she has to wash her family's clothes by hand. Did I mention that besides her family of 12, they have 5 orphans now living with them? Lice, colds, illness are her daily "annoyances." Yet, this friend has always been the most cheerful and joyful person I've known - no matter what she's facing.
My widow friend: One day she said "goodbye" to her husband as he left for work. About 30 minutes later, after receiving a phone call, she saw him lying unconscious on the side of the road in freshly fallen snow. He passed away the next morning. That was five years ago. She has continued on - raising the 6 children left at home, homeschooling, helping missionaries, finishing the building of their home, moving, and meeting the daily struggles that I so easily complain about - without the love of her life. She rarely complains, but continues to press on with joy. (To read more of her story, see my post from 2010.)
A mother I have never met but know through friends: Her husband and only child were in a horrific car accident this past Christmas Eve. For weeks, she went from her husband's room in the burn unit to her daughter's room in the ICU - praying, crying, hoping for a miracle. To this day, her home is the rehab center where she and her husband work with and pray for their daughter to walk and talk again. How much sleep has this woman gotten? The bills are astronomical. Whether or not her dishwasher works is the least of her concerns.
I could go on and on. We all could share stories of people we know who are meeting overwhelming obstacles and challenges. Maybe you are one of those people. I do know that God cares about every detail, every problem in my life. Yet, how weak I am to faint in the face of such tiny inconveniences.
The women above, and those like them, they are heroes. Not because they face great challenges. But because they meet those challenges with great strength and grace. Each of them would give the credit to God, as they ought. But, do I not have the same Source of strength? Do I not have the same Comforter and giver of joy?
Oh, Father, forgive me for my weakness and selfishness. May I pray for my sisters who truly have things to complain about, but don't. Thank you for them. Thank you for your graciousness and patience towards me.