Have you ever felt “dumped on”, as if you are carrying more than your fair share of the load? At times like those the appreciation runs low while the demands run high. It’s easy for parents like us — those who are raising a child with special needs — to feel this way.
Even in the most perfect of marriages, labor is never completely 50/50 all the time. And the type of work that each spouse manages can often be like comparing apples to oranges. How do you compare being the financial provider for the home with being the main caregiver to a challenged child and their siblings? Both are essential to family life.
In addition, we marry “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health.” One of us is usually strong when the other is weak. We stand by one another when the good times are pushed out by pressing problems.
Nevertheless, resentment can rear its ugly head in all sorts of marital scenarios. This is a battle that I have fought over the past 5 months. It is one that I am familiar with, since our family has been here before. I have a husband who is between jobs. Back in October, he lost a position of 8 years. I continue to show great restraint in sharing the issues behind his dismissal, but suffice it to say that it is not a happy story. Being the incredibly faithful, hard worker that he is, he took a menial job with entry level pay in January with the mindset that is always easier to find a job when you have a job.
The past 3 months have truly stretched me. I must work full-time because we need my income. Yet, because of this new, temporary position my husband took, I operate far more on my own than before. He works every Sunday, so there is no church attendance as a family. This is particularly challenging with kids that want to attend different services at different times. Most school nights of the week, he works until 11 PM. This means that I not only have to be on top of each child’s homework, I am also the sole shuttle for the children to and from Taekwondo, youth group, and the eldest child’s part-time job. When you add in the usual demands of meal preparation, clean-up, and bedtime routines, I have lost the 3 nights of work time for my job that I once had. In short, I must do more work in less time both at home, and on the job.
In these past months, when my husband dared to attend Bible study or go for a cross-country ski when he was not on the job, I have felt dumped on. How come he gets to “play” when there is so much work to do? Where is my Bible study? Where is my chance to do something I really love? Hobbies? I’m fortunate if I can get a shower in or sleep in a bed that doesn’t have a dysregulated child hopping into it in the middle of the night.
This is where I come face-to-face with the One who truly has been dumped on. When I can manage to be alone in the car with my thoughts or force myself awake before the kids for some devotional time, I see my sinful selfishness and realize my perspective is cracked. As a couple, we are a team. My husband needs my support right now, not my demands. If things are imbalanced, he needs me to work through it with him, not stew in my disappointed expectations.
Rather than having my vision downward cast at the many demands on me, I need to keep my eyes fixed on the Bearer of my burdens.
When I think, “I can’t,”
He says, “Cast your cares upon me.”
As I whine, “When will this get better?”,
He reminds me, “These are light and momentary problems when compared to eternity.”
When I pout, “Unfair!”,
He says, “Yes, it WAS unfair that I should be ridiculed, tortured, punished, and die for your sins. But you are SO worth it.”
I am humbled. Just when I think I can’t hold on one more minute, God sends me refreshment to strengthen my soul for this weary walk. A card comes in the mail, or a tax refund shows up in our bank account, or friend shows up at the door with cookies. That’s a whole lot more than Jesus ever got bearing my burdens with excruciating pain on the cross.
“He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter..”
~ Isaiah 53:7, NIV ~
If I am going to look more like Him, and less like my nasty self, I need a whole lot more of that behavior of Jesus described in Isaiah 53:7. My mouth needs to be shut and I need to be fixed on glorifying God in the midst of our family trials. Because truth be known, what I endure is not really being dumped on in the big scheme of things. THIS IS.
Top image courtesy of Kasia Bialasiewicz 123rf.com