Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I've Discovered...

...that acts of service, without words of affirmation, can feel like condemnation.

...that Zane Alexander's advice (that I first read in the days immediately following Shav's birth) is really hard to follow.  In his book Good Lovers Make Great Parents, he writes:
 Start your survival program by refusing to "should" yourself to death.  Refuse to tell yourself that you ought to do such and such.  For one week refuse to say or think the word should....Next, refuse to set up any goal for yourself as a parent other than survival...Your only goal is to survive one day at a time.
...that it's far easier to extend grace to others than to give it to myself.  (Your laundry has piled up terribly, but instead of working on it this morning, you cuddled on the couch and read stories to your boys?  Oh, well, that's fine!  Your children grow up so fast, and the laundry will always be with you.  It's good that you focused on time with them this morning. - easy to say this to someone else, hard to accept it myself.)

...that even a "little" thing like excema on my hands can be incredibly discouraging.

...that even when I feel like I've got "failure" stamped all over me, His compassion never fails and His mercies never stop.  But I do have one question:  if I've already gone through today's allotment, can I tap into what's waiting for me tomorrow morning?  I still have over seven hours left in this day, and I'll be in a heap of trouble if I can't find some extra dose of grace by which to be renewed!

5 comments:

Margie said...

I've pondered the first discovery, and say, yes. You're right. I try to make my acts of service selfless and without expectation, but without affirmation, I feel overworked and unappreciated. And ditto number 2, 3, 4, and 5. But I didn't have to think about those!

And to follow up with your comments, I am beginning to "get a grip" on the time changes to my days with E gone - still working on balance, though. And Wayne and I ate at a really fabulous restaurant for our anniversary at a gas station! No joke - it's a little out of town but so worth it. The chef's won all sorts of awards for his culinary talents at an active Conoco station. I can't wait to go back.

Davene said...

Margie,

As always, I'm so grateful for your friendship and input! You made me smile about the anniversary at a gas station; that's classic. I guess I believe you that it was nice. ;-)

I was writing in a funk this afternoon, and didn't explain myself well with the first point. Now that I'm {almost completely} out of my funk, maybe I can clarify what I meant.

What I've discovered is that, when someone else does acts of service for me, if it's not accompanied by loving, affirming words, I feel condemned. For example, this morning, Jeff was stressed about something not family-related, and was zooming around the kitchen, unloading and loading the dishwasher, scrubbing cookie sheets, throwing rotten cucumbers out of the refrigerator, etc. And instead of being pure-hearted and simply grateful for his help, I felt condemned and had thoughts of, "If I was a good wife, he would never have to do the dishes. If I was an adequate homemaker, he would never find rotten cucumbers in the refrigerator, etc. I should have cleaned out the refrigerator long ago. I should have washed those cookie sheets already." Even though a big part of my mind was telling me that he was only doing it because he loves me and wants to make my job easier, another part of me was wishing that he would verbalize that. Give me a compliment, let me know how much you love and appreciate me, and then serve me. That way, the fact that you're serving me won't make me feel so insecure.

Here's another example: when my mom "breaks into" my house and steals my dirty laundry and then returns it clean and folded, my first reaction (I'm being painfully honest here) is, "She must be doing that because she thinks I can't handle my own household. Because I'm a failure, she has to do my laundry." I'm trying to learn to have a pure heart that says, "She's doing that because she loves you! It's NOT because she's trying to point out your inadequacies! She doesn't think you're a failure!" But I'm not always good at that.

I guess what I'm seeing about myself is that when others serve me in areas that I clearly identify as MY responsibility, my first gut-level response is not gratitude, but a feeling of failure. I should have been able to handle it (whatever "it" is) myself; and the fact that someone else had to help out means that I blew it.

However, a thoughtful compliment delivered along with the acts of service punches a hole in my ballooning sense of failure. It's much easier for me to humbly accept help when it's given along with affirmation. Does that make sense?

I'm NOT saying that my response is right in this. I'm openly confessing my prideful response...and longing for a more humble heart. I'm NOT implying that, in these situations, Jeff and my mom did wrong by not heaping compliments on me. I'm focusing on my own sin here.

I think by continuing to ramble, I'm just muddying the waters. I'd better stop... :)

Jeff Fisher said...

Interesting... thanks for explaining that. I was definitely not tuned in! I was fuming about yesterday about other situations that had nothing to do with home... so of course, I was insensitive to your emotional needs being self-focused in my own flesh. Actually, while I was doing things... like wiping down the counter, I was thinking... well its not as clean as Davene would do it... but it will do... and after removing the moldy cucumbers from the fridge... thinking... Davene would go to the trouble of disinfecting this shelf, but Windex will have to do.... so really, you do it better babe- and I know I could never live up to the standard you have set if I had to live in your shoes. I love you....

Margie said...

Davene, now that you've said this (extremely clearly, by the way), I'm kind of embarrassed. At first reading, I knew that was what you meant, but upon re-reading it came up with a more convoluted interpretation. I had clearly remembered the illustration with your mom, but then my own conversations came to mind (these happened far more often when I was badly sleep-deprived), about my attempts at selfless service, and appreciation goes a long way, (blah blah blah - you get the picture - Mom was tired and needed some help).

Thank you for your immediate response that makes so much sense! As for Toy Story, it's actually TS2 that the girls are into right now. And it's b/c E wants to be Jessie - look like her, act like her, she wishes Jessie were her name. That began after our visit to the Cowgirl Museum where Jessie is celebrated (in addition to real bronco-riding cowgirls). I still assert that TS3 is for older kids only, like ages 10 or 11.

Nearly every day I am asked if the girls are twins. And some people don't believe me when I say they're 2 years apart. The girls themselves seem to appreciate the comments about looking alike. As for the gas station, well, it even surprised Wayne. I'd taken the opportunity to remind him of this place I loved, and he went along with it. It's been featured on the Food Network, and Paula Deen showed up once to rave about the bread pudding (right up her alley - it's served in a bowl of melted butter. Actually, the pasta I had would have been, too, since it was made with heavy cream.) It's fun, unconventional, and worth every bit of the 25-minute drive to get there!

Davene said...

Thanks, Margie...and thanks, Jeff. You both know how to brighten my morning. :)