An Invitation to Imperfect Progress
by Lysa TerKeurst
Emotions aren’t bad. But try telling that to my brain at 2:08 a.m. when I should be sleeping instead of mentally beating myself up.
Why had I become completely unglued about bathroom towels? Towels, for heaven’s sake. Towels!
The master bathroom is the favorite bathroom in our house. Although my three girls share a small bathroom upstairs, they much prefer our more spacious bathroom downstairs. As a result, our bath towels are frequently hijacked. I’ll hop out of the tub and reach for the freshly laundered towel I hung on the rack the day before only to discover it isn’t there. Ugh. So, I wind up using a hand towel. (A hand towel. Can you feel my pain?) And while using said hand towel, I am muttering under my breath, “I’m banning the girls from our bathroom.” Then, of course, I never do anything to make the situation better. And the same scene repeats itself time and time again.
I’d been dealing with the bath towel, or lack thereof, situation for quite a while before Art got involved. Up to this point, he had somehow managed to escape the woes of using a hand towel. But not this day. And his happiness did not abound upon discovering nothing but air where the towel should have been.
I headed upstairs in a huff to give the girls a piece of my mind. “Never! Ever! Ever! You are not allowed to use the towels in our bathroom ever, ever, ever again! Do you understand me?!” The girls just looked at me, dumbfounded that I was getting this upset over towels, and then started profusely declaring that they didn’t have said towels.
I was now late and in no mood to participate. It was probably some meeting about being kind to your family. I wouldn’t know. My mind was a blur the rest of the day.
And now it’s 2:08 a.m. and I can’t sleep.
I’m sad because of the way I acted today. I’m disappointed in my lack of self-control. I’m sad that I accused my girls when later I found the towels in my son’s room. Go figure. And the more I relive my towel tirade, the more my brain refuses sleep.
I have to figure this out. What is my problem? Why can’t I seem to control my reactions? I stuff. I explode. And I don’t know how to get a handle on this. But God help me if I don’t get a handle on this. I will destroy the relationships I value most and weave into my life permanent threads of short-temperedness, shame, fear, and frustration. Is that what I really want? Do I want my headstone to read, “Well, on the days she was nice she was really nice. But on the days she wasn’t, rest assured, hell hath no fury like the woman who lies beneath the ground right here”?
No. That’s not what I want. Not at all. I don’t want the script of my life to be written that way. So, at 2:08 a.m., I vow to do better tomorrow. But better proves illusive, and my vow wears thin in the face of daily annoyances and other unpleasant realities. Tears slip and I’m worn out from trying. Always trying.
So who says emotions aren’t bad? I feel like mine are. I feel broken. Unglued, actually. I have vowed to do better at 2:08 a.m. and 8:14 a.m. and 3:37 p.m. and 9:49 p.m. and many other minutes in between. I know what it’s like to praise God one minute and in the next minute yell and scream at my child — and then to feel both the burden of my destructive behavior and the shame of my powerlessness to stop it.
I also know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of unglued behavior and to experience that painful sting of disrespect that makes me want to hurt the one who hurt me.
And the emotional demands keep on coming. Unrelenting insecurity. Wondering if anyone appreciates me. Feeling tired, stressed, hormonal.
Feeling unglued is really all I’ve ever known. And I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s all I’ll ever be.
Those were the defeating thoughts I couldn’t escape. Maybe you can relate. If you relate to my hurt, I pray you will also relate to my hope.