I received a lovely bit of encouragement from God the other day while praying and thinking about my decisions going forward (to homeschool or not, discipline methods, relationship issues, my book, etc.) I talked it over with a friend, and she brought some valuable insight that helped me complete the process.
Love is not, and cannot be, simply a feeling. If that's all it is, then it's no more than momentary; it's not the life-changing, powerful force that moves mountains and alters hearts.
So what is it? Love is desiring the good of the other person, and to my mind, that requires a sacrifice of self. Jesus exemplifies this with His ministry and death, and that is the model we are called to follow.
Love is service, sacrifice, working for the good of others.
Then if this is so, the best way I can love my family is to think about what would achieve their good, and then dedicate myself to that. And if I feel myself taking on too much, as I am wont to do, then I need to re-examine my priorities to ensure I am balancing what I need with what they need.
Because, and here's the wonderful insight: my participation in my family is for their good! So if something is preventing me from participating fully and joyfully, then it cannot be where God is calling me to go.
I think this is where God has been leading me. Because the message I continually get from Him is "Trust Me. Keep moving forward." At first this seems at odds with the other messages I'm getting from my family and my body, who all say as one voice "You are doing too much."
How can I keep moving forward if I am doing too much and it's overwhelming me?
The answer, I feel, is not to change what I'm doing, per se, but to pull back from certain pieces. The panic response to the stresses I'm under are to seek an escape. "I made the wrong choice. I should pull a 180! I should go back on this decision!" But that's not the answer. I make choices carefully under prayerful direction and lots of research. Maybe things turn out to be harder than I expect, but that doesn't mean I made the wrong decision or that I shouldn't see it through. That's why God keeps telling me to trust and move forward; I'm on the right path, and I have conviction about that. I am meant to homeschool. I am meant to be a SAHM. Our family is meant to have a puppy! God will open the opportunity for me to write when it's time for that. I can trust that I don't need to push it or sacrifice my primary vocation, which is to my family.
I will need to think some more about the specific pieces where I can pull back. I've already started, like canceling some activities so I'm not driving as much or stressing less about making a dinner everyone will eat and instead just putting a healthy meal on the table that the kids are free to reject! I'm also seeing a new therapist and upping my medication so I am stronger mentally and emotionally.
God is also encouraging me to be humble. He has to tell me this a lot. I keep forgetting that I am myself, not anyone else, and it's okay if I am weaker than other homeschooling moms of 4, or 5...I am called only to do my best, not another person's best. I have my cross, it is enough.