By Melanie Sorenson
Every man, woman, and child on earth knows what it is to suffer, to be in pain, and to feel sadness and anger. Every human being knows what it is to have a bad day, to feel alone, to wonder if hope is lost. We learn as toddlers how to jump up from scraped knees, sit in "time out" to help the temper tantrums pass, and develop self-control so that we are not a complete menace to society and ourselves.
What we sometimes do not know is how to handle life and move forward when all the lights go out.
One must only watch a 23-minute American sitcom to see how we prefer life: a few laughs, a minor melodrama, a quick fix, and everything happily wrapped up by the final commercial break. Anything harder than that and we want to delegate. Hire someone. Duck. Turn a blind eye. Blame someone else. Point fingers. Have a few laughs at someone else's expense to distract from reality. Lie. Hide. Anything but be in pain and let others see our weakness. Anything to keep from appearing as a leper that attracts every contagious problem we all work so hard to avoid.
But what do you do when your happily-ever-after as a wife and mother has the bottom of the bag torn out and everything is broken, exposed, and hopeless?
What do you do when friends leave, family turns, the world mocks, jobs are lost, terminal illness comes, and marriages are strained? What do you do when your happily-ever-after blows up in your face? What do you do when you look in the mirror and see those aging lines, the bags under your eyes from another sleepless night, and due to circumstances beyond your control (but all quite the effect of not only general sin, but your own as well) you find yourself wondering how the years you have invested in mothering, marriage, and homemaking will actually turn out with that "her husband stands at the gate and he praises her" ending?
A dear friend once showed me a book called Telling Yourself the Truth by William Backus. It is a handbook based on the principles of "misbelief therapy," designed to help you work yourself out of depression, anxiety, fear, anger, etc. The entire premise is that once you begin a mental loop of lies designed to tear yourself apart, you will spiral deeper and deeper into depression and anxiety. You will lose hope. You will isolate yourself. And the devil will have you right where he wants you.
So what can you do when your happily-ever-after turns into the fight of your life? Friends, the only way is through. We all cry and wish for an instant savior, for that band of angels to show up and deliver us. We are weak and tired. So, go. Go where your Savior promises to be. Go to Divine Service. Be fed with Christ's Body and Blood. Set up an appointment with your pastor and confess your sins and ask him for Holy Absolution. It is your pastor's joy to do this for you. Have the Word preached into your ears every single day. You can do this by listening to podcasts, following your favorite pastors on Facebook and/or their blogs, and getting yourself a Treasury of Daily Prayer and delighting in reading the three given readings for each day along with the church father writing.
It's okay to not be okay. It's okay to wake up and realize that your happily-ever-after is really a war zone: a daily spiritual battle of all the forces of good and evil. It's also okay to take a break and laugh. Go for a walk. Buy a bird--just don't do it on a whim when your husband is out of town and you have never discussed getting a pet bird before!
The devil delights in tearing Christian families down with lies. And what better way than to attack the homemaker? Pay very careful attention to your thoughts. Are you telling yourself the truth? What is truth? God's Word is truth. Spread it around your house on post-it notes. Play it in hymnody in your home. When you equip your heart and mind with truth, the whole world may be going crazy, and the attacks on your family may seem insurmountable, but Christ has already harrowed hell once and for all. The one Who died is victorious: He is risen as He said! Your hell was His before you even entered it, and He cleared it once and for all of all its power and danger. It cannot have you. You are Christ's.
So rise up, dear one. There is yet hope. The only way may be through, and it may come with lots of tears and lamentation, but your reward awaits you in our new heaven and new earth. Never grow weary of doing good. Feed your family, clothe your family, and every day read them the Word of God. All else is icing on the cake, and Christ is coming so very soon! Thanks be to God!
Melanie Sorenson is the middle child of five and grew up in the beautiful Florida sunshine. Her desire for a Lutheran education (as well as her father's last wish) led her to Concordia River Forest and a degree in Communications and Theology. Melanie met her husband on the day she moved to Chicago, married him two and a half years later, and is now the mother of six boys and six babies in heaven. Her days are full of home schooling and keeping her growing boys fed.