I am always hesitant to describe what a typical day in our household looks like. With six children, they are bound to be a little chaotic at any rate. When you add in two ADHD children, and ADHD teenage nephew, a child with cerebral palsy, and three hyperactive toddlers, the recipe looks like disaster!
For years, I’ve struggled with this. It’s not easy. I look at my friends’ and families’ lives and they look like beacons of peace. I know, in my head, that they feel like they don’t have control over a lot of things, that their days almost never go as planned. That doesn’t help in my heart when I just feel like locking myself in a closet to cry because I’ve lost all control over everything and feel like I can’t breathe.
Their lives look like perfection.
I put my head in my heads and wail “Why, God?! Why can’t we be normal? Why do I have to deal with all of this by myself?”
“It’s not fair!”
Then, of course, the tap-tap-tapping starts at the door and I dry my eyes and soldier on.
When I was a teenager, my youth group did a very intensive study on what makes up character. Character, by definition, is the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
It’s everything that makes us who we are.
It defines us.
My youth pastor had a better definition though. He said, “Character is what you do when no one is looking.”
That puts it into perspective, doesn’t it? What am I doing when no one is around? Am I sitting around feeling sorry for myself because my life is challenging? Am I holding pity parties for myself because because everything is not easy? Am I whining and complaining because I used my time to feel sorry for myself instead of cleaning the house or tending to the children?
That’s not a character to be proud of.
It’s not one you want to be remembered for.
Instead, when life gets difficult, I should look out instead of in. I’m not doing anyone a bit of good by dwelling on things that I cannot change. This is the hand I’ve been dealt. I should work to make it a better experience, to get more joy out of precious moments.
I can’t control many aspects of this crazy life that I lead, but I can control the small things. I can smile more, laugh more, love more. I can spend my free time bettering myself instead of dwelling on how ‘rough’ I have it.
I can control more than I realize.
And I can start with myself.