You know the type situation I am talking about. You were up all night with a vomiting child, the phone rings at 7:00 a.m. it’s the Realtor with a potential buyer that has to see the house at 10:00 a.m. You scramble out of bed, throw the pile of soiled sheeting, wash cloths, towels from last night’s projectile vomiting episode into the wash, and rouse hungry children while hubby is in the shower.
In the dining room you encounter a large puddle reminding of your dog’s weak bladder–lovely. Go to the kitchen for paper towels and a quick survey of the house tells you it is physically impossible to have this home show ready by 10:00 a.m. without a bulldozer. You clean up dog urine, wash hands, pour bowls of cereal, skip your much needed coffee and give yourself a much needed pep talk. You can do this. You have to do this. Flashback to the previous night’s movie in which Spiderman’s uncle said, “With great power comes great responsibility!”
You courageously charge through the house, laundry basket in hand, snatching toys, newspapers, school books, magazines, etc. You ignore the childrenarguing over the toy in the cereal box because you are on a mission. You remove enough clutter to see the carpet only to see it is covered with smashed orange Doritos. You reach for the vacuum only to discover the bag is full, not just slightly full but about-ready-to-explode full. And surprise, it was the last vacuum cleaner bag.
Your children’s verbal argument escalates into a physical battle of flying wet cheerios. You stop the war, demand everyone drop the weapons, I mean cheerios, and instruct them to pick up the plethora of Legos and G.I. Joes under the dining table– skipping the urge to explain what plethora means – this is no time for vocabulary lessons.
You move outside to fight your own battle to empty the overstuffed vacuum cleaner bag in to overstuffed garbage can. Your pretty pink bathrobe acts like Velcro attracting pieces from the disgusting dust cloud ofdirt, dog hair, food items, and dust of revolting who-knows-what.
Back inside with a less full vacuum bag you (somewhat loudly) instruct the rowdy and still arguing children to get dressed and not to pull all the clothes out of the drawers. The Legos and G.I. Joes remain untouched under the table.
About this time, your sweet hubby appears freshly showered, dressed and ready for his day and yes, he is actually humming. . His smile quickly disappears as he hears your dark mumblings as you stuff cereal bowls into the dishwasher. He quips, “Why are you in such a foul mood? That’s it–the last proverbial straw; the camel’s back has just snapped. You are 100% in the flesh ready, willing, and able to dispense a savage tongue lashing to your one true love.There is absolutely nothing, nada, zero, zip inside of you prompting you to walk in God’s Spirit of self control, love, or kindness.
Ok, you probably already guessed, this was not some imaginary housewife. This happened to me yesterday. My poor hubby got an earful and I woke up this morning on a guilt trip (not even a shiny clean house has helped my mood).
Where is the Fruit?!
I recently did a study on the branch abiding in the vine. How do I so quickly rip myself away from the vine? How is it I am so quick to jump into the flesh? Where was my self-control? Where was the love? Where was my witness? Where was my firm foundation? What kind of spiritual fruit was I showing?What is the secret to walking and remaining in the Spirit? Where is the list of steps to follow? This morning I poured all this out to my friend on the phone. She was in her car and didn’t have a lot of time for a lengthy response. But before we hung up she left me with something profound. She said, “The key is preparedness.”So I began thinking, how can I be spiritually prepared for the next mishap or disaster? How do cities prepare for crises such as hurricanes, tornados or a tsunami?
Hurricane Preparedness / Self Control Preparedness
I am originally from Florida. A lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.
Preparing in advance is the key to avoiding catastrophe. Most who die in hurricanes could have been saved – if they prepared and followed the instructions and directions given to them.
Shelter from the Storm
The first thing on the hurricane preparation list is getting to a solid strong shelter (home or school); you need to be inside during the storm or you need to evacuate to a safe shelter.First on the spiritual preparedness list is also a firm foundation –a relationship with God through Christ. Without this, disaster is certain.
Hearing the Warning Signs
To prepare, you must recognize warning signs. A hurricane watch means conditions are possible. A hurricane warning means conditions are expected. Did I have any warning signs?You have to have communication to hear the warnings; i.e. radio, phone, TV, Internet, friend.
God gave us warning system to prepare people in the Bible. He gives us these stories to prepare ourselves. God gives us the Holy Spirit to warn us of possible danger.There is one thing that stops us from hearing the Holy Spirit—sin. Rejecting sin in our lives is a process of moment by moment saying no to the flesh and praying to God for strength to resist temptation. taking every thought captive, and not giving Satan a foothold.
Bottled water and batteries are the main preparation supplies for hurricanes. Prayer and Bible study are the main preparation supplies to prepare for life’s problems (well, actually, for life). I became somewhat defensive at this point. I argued, “Wait a minute, I pray daily; I’m in the Word daily! Just how much do I need to die to self and walk in the Spirit?” Obviously the answer was more prayer and Bible study than I was doing —because I was not prepared.
For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Reaping flesh means I was sowing flesh. I need more prayer and Bible study. As I began writing about this experience I realized the overstuffed vacuum cleaner bag in my story symbolized me! (Wow, writing to learn really works.) Was this one of my warning signs? While I was emptying the bag I was mad. Maybe if I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself I would have seen the lesson. Did a repentant heart this morning allow me to see a lesson from the Holy Spirit?
My Warning Sign
I was just like the vacuum cleaner bag – full of yucky stuff ready to explode if one more tiny thing was added. It had not just been a stressful night but a stressful month. My husband had a heart attack, we had several family overnight guests, my business had several technical problems this week (email, shopping carts and web design disasters), sick children, etc.It was one hectic month.
Overall, I was already bursting at the seams from an imbalance between demands and resources. Don’t misunderstand, these are not excuses. But they are warning signs. I (and/or my dh) should have recognized the warning signs.
Bagged vacuum cleaners require that you change the bag when it becomes full. Some vacuum cleaner models have an indicator light that will let you know when the bag needs to be changed.
Imagine a large red indicator light on your forehead indicating your stress level.
Wouldn’t that be neat?Imagine a large red indicator light on your forehead indicating your stress level. Hubby and the children would have a warning.“Mom’s light is glowing again, stand back!” Fixing the problem would be replacing the bag before it is full.
How does that relate to a mom full of stress? If the dirt is stress, is the bag our brain? Our emotions? Our spirit? How do we empty self of stress? (by the way, stress can also be good—but that’s another article). Preparing involves mostly prayer and Bible study to strengthen our relationship with God. We also need the relationship of people, fellowship—to strengthen us to be able to withstand storms. While reading a book on marketing, I came across a surprising study.
When women’s brains were scanned during various experiments, their dopamine rose five times the normal levels when talking to other women. Dopamine is a powerful neurotransmitter that affects pleasure and motivation. Conversations with a friend can help dump a lot of accumulated dirt from our quickly filling bags.
People Need People
The Bible instructs us to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2); encourage one another (Heb. 10:25); minister to one another (1 Peter 4:10–11). Christ sent the disciples out two by two, knowing that “it is not good for a man to be alone” (cf. Gen 2:18).
Lonely Christians are often defeated Christians. Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 states that “two are better than one.” When Elijah thought he was the only one faithful to God, he began to backslide. Jonah ministered alone and developed a bitter spirit. When we share, we are getting rid of some of the build up. That is why there Bible often talks of brotherly love (Heb 13:1; Rom 12:10;1; Jn 4:20–21; 1 Pet 1:22).
Throughout history people have lived in close knit groups with extended families in the same homes. The last few generations of Americans have been much more independent. It’s my guess that this is this why homeschool support groups, blogs, message boards and egroups are so popular. People need people!I am emptying my bag now telling you this story. I plan on a conversation tonight with my hubby (yes, I already apologized) about overstuffed vacuum cleaner bags. Together –with God–we will brainstorm a way to prepare for future storms. Now I leave my list for you.
Spiritual Preparation List for Disaster (or life in general)
- A shelter: You must have a firm foundation; a relationship with God through Christ.
- Prayer: Ask for help from your loving Father who is waiting to help you.Don’t wait for your bag to be full to start praying. Ask God before the crisis to give you the strength, energy, and kindness to deal with stressful situations. Confess sin; ask not to be led into temptation; enter His gates with praise and thanksgiving.
- Bible: Start each day in God’s Word. You can’t build without the blueprint. Immerse yourself and your children with God’s stories. See how others were able to handle crises because they trusted Him—even when things looked bleak.
- Walk in obedience to be able to hear the Holy Spirit. Resist sin; take every thought captive. Don’t give the devil a foothold.
- Love one another: bear one another’s burdens. Be there for someone and ask them to be there for you.