About 6 months ago, Shane accepted an Assistant Store Manager position at his work. He has worked retail his entire working life, and this position is something he is very proud of. He has worked from the bottom (a cart boy at the age of 17) up and has moved through the ranks in hardware store retail ever since. This position is something that he has worked hard for, and it's something he loves doing. However, like any position, it comes with its ups and downs. While it brought more monthly income into our home, it also requires 50 hours or more of work every week.
Our entire married life, Shane has worked retail, and it has been difficult to say the least. Retail requires nights, weekends, and holidays. When we were first dating, I had no idea how difficult this schedule would be for a family, but we have made it work.
His schedule seems to become a bigger burden for our family as the kids are getting older. When they were tiny and not in school, his hours were a lot easier to manage because the kids were home all the time. Now that they are in school, they go days and sometimes weeks at time seeing their dad only for an hour or so a day.
Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for the tiny amount of time they do get. I realize there are a lot of children in this world who would give anything to have even a few minutes with their dad every day. However, our reality is that he's not home much and it's difficult for all of us, Shane included.
As a "retail wife" I, daily, carry the burden of juggling schedules, housework, kids, extracurricular activities, small group, church, homework, meals, and the day to day operations of our home and family. I do 90% of the child rearing and discipline. I do all of the home work, housework, and discipleship work with the kids. I've gotten used to going to social functions without him, never being able to make plans, and working holidays around his schedule. It's a job that I have the privilege of doing for my family, but it is also exhausting.
Not only do I carry a majority of the load in regards to our every day family life, but I also have a chronic illness that I have to manage on top of everything else. About a year ago, I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis- a chronic inflammation of the bladder lining. If you have ever had a urinary tract infection, imagine that pain times 100. I have pain flares that leave me in bed for days at a time, writhing in pain. A typical pain flare lasts anywhere from 9-14 days. The only treatments for the pain are pain medications or bladder installations (catheter directly into the bladder with lidocaine, and other medication to help calm the bladder.) Sounds fun, doesn't it?
As the days have been getting harder in regards to Shane's work schedule, the kids activities and homework, as well a managing my health, I often find myself feeling utterly exhausted. I don't take my responsibility and obligations to my husband and children lightly, and I am often told that I have way too high of expectations for myself.
I work hard to ensure that our family runs smoothly, eats homemade meals as often as possible, and that my children are discipled and in the Word as much as possible, all while trying to allow Shane to lead our family.
Let me tell you. I fall into bed daily, exhausted and often unsure of how I will get through another day.
But God daily reminds me to find my rest in him.
It has taken me years to figure out how to find my rest in Him. What does that even mean? Does it mean that I will just float through my days with some sort of supernatural power that doesn't allow me to become tired? Does it mean that my faith isn't strong enough when I can't do one more thing? Does it mean that I have failed as a wife and mother when I am so emotionally drained that I can't get through another minute without screaming and crying like a crazy woman?
God tells us to come to him, all who are heavy burdened, and he will give us rest. But what does that rest look like? I can tell you it doesn't mean that I will have a never ending supply of energy. It doesn't mean that I won't fall into bed at night, unable to make it through the "Dear Heavenly Father," part of my prayer before falling asleep.
It means that I have hope. Hope that all this hard work will produce fruit. Hope that God will give me the strength to get through another day because He wants me to. Hope that He will supply my every need- sometimes that need is simply holding me and telling me that I was enough for that day. Hope that God will be faithful to complete the good work that He began, not only in myself, but in my children and husband as well. Hope that when I am not enough, either to my children or my husband, that He IS enough.
It means that, some day, I will receive an eternal reward. I will stand before my maker, and He will see me through the lens of Jesus' death on the cross and he will say, "Job well done, my good and faithful servant." Even though I have failed more often than I have succeeded. Even when I have sinned over and over again. He will give me rest because he is faithful and so very gracious.
My rest may not come on this earth. The rest of my life might be exhausting and burdensome. There will be trials and struggles that will knock the wind out of my sail. But he WILL be faithful to give me rest. I trust in that daily and that is where I find my strength.