Grace and MercyLimits.  I’m not a fan. I like to problem solve. Tell me I can’t, and I’ll figure out how I CAN.  I could easily be confused, with a 3 year old. I say: “I’ll do it myself.”  Or “I can do it myself.” about as often.

The problem is- I can’t. Not always. Especially not now. Maybe not ever. But in truth? I never could. I just always try to. I try to be a jill of all trades- I have been known to: wallpaper and by myself. (One time standing on a kitchen chair in our slippery bathtub. Putting up  ceiling border. Think about it…. holding up a border until it sticks- applying pressure as the chair you’re standing on slowly pushes back and away from the surface you’re trying to stick it to….good times.) I’ve been known to Google “How to fix the pipes under your kitchen sink when they fall apart from the garbage disposal’s vibration.”  And then: fix it. (At least for a while. Newsflash: I’m not a plumber.) I prefer to offer my doctor a diagnosis consult  and suggested treatment plan when I go in for an appointment.

I’m not a doctor- nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. Yet… somehow– I feel like I can.. or that I should be able to do and figure everything out. IN truth-The list of examples could go on forever.

One of the limits I’m currently struggling with- is my neck. Either again- or still. Whatever. (I think I had 3 weeks after my last surgery where it had started to feel better…. then the slow creeping decline began- again.) Another failed surgery. I followed all the rules this time. I took my calcium and D 3.  I TRIED really HARD to tell my body to grow bone. It just: didn’t. In short- my neck… (Forgive the vernacular) Sucks. It hurts. My neck limits what I can and cannot do.

It’s been depressing me. Frustrating me. Upsetting me. I feel dis-abled. In the most literal sense. I feel… hobbled.… (I never should have watched the Movie “Misery.” Justsayin. I feel like James Cann in that flick-every time there is enough healing to get better and start to do more…- something whacks me again- and I’m hobbled, afresh.) I feel like I have less to give. I feel like I have less to help with. I hate it.

I’ve rebelled against it. (Scroll down to the snow shoveling incident.. not good.) Only to end up hobbling myself, even more. I’ve been angry at myself and looking for something- someone to blame. Usually there’s just: me. So I talk to myself. Blame myself. Manipulate myself.

“Get a grip. people live with worse. Be happy with what you can do. It’s just pain. Pain is part of life, accept it and move on. Don’t let it stop you. Stop being a hypochondriac. Suck it up buttercup. Don’t be a drama queen. Why do you keep doing stupid things?”

I’m not very nice. To myself.

Which is a problem. A big problem.

Because…..I’m usurping God’s expectations for me.

No, really. I am. I expect (desire, want)  my broken, weak, pain filled and needing to heal body- to perform like a healthy one. I want to be perfect. I want to be able to do it all. Somewhere in my twisted brain.. I think I should…..

I can’t find any scriptures to support this.

Instead, I find:

Hebrews 4:16

16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Matthew 22:36-40 

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 1 John 4:16

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

Psalm 145:8

” The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”

Hebrews 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
There is nothing that calls me to do it all. No verse that tells me to be perfect. Not one verse tells me to fix my own brokenness.
I keep forgetting that.
Especially when I want to do.. one more load of laundry. Vacuum one more room. Clean one more closet. Help with one more cause. Join one more study….volunteer for one more thing…Or just plain have an hour without pain. The things that set  off the internal tirade of frustration, anger and guilt I wrote above…
When I do that…. I set those expectations on and take those frustrations out on someone handcrafted by God – his workmanship created for a purpose……..
His daughter.
I wonder how he feels about that?
As a mom, I’m pretty sure he’s not a fan of that, either.
I hate to see my children tear themselves up. I love them. I want them to be kind and loving to themselves and to others…. Which, as I look at the verses above.. especially in light of Easter week- when he put that love and mercy and grace into the ultimate action….. on the cross-convinces me I need to show my back (and self) some mercy. I also need God’s grace to heal me from the heart out. More important than my neck- I need to get over my perfectionistic drive.
So yesterday, being the visual learner that I am.. I put a reminder of that- right where I need it. On my back. In the form of a tattoo. 3 hours of pain- for a lifetime of remembering….”Be Gracious Tracey, Be merciful, Tracey. To yourself and to others. You are precious to the one who formed you. Treat yourself as such.”
I can’t do it all. I’m not perfect. I’m broken. I have limits. It’s okay.  I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to do it all. The truth is…We’re all broken. (in some way.) And we’re all beautiful- created by God for a divine purpose.
I hope- Dear Reader…. that you will do the same.
You are loved. You are broken. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to do it all. Show yourself some grace and mercy… you need it. so do I.
“Dear Lord- You know I hate my limits. Help me to accept them and respect them. Help me to love my life and not to waste it longing for a perfect, healthy pain free one. Help me to be gracious and merciful, help me to accept your mercy and grace- I love you Lord…. so very much. Help this ink be a reminder of all these things…. In Jesus name-amen
Kudo’s to Cee Jay at Suicide Kings Tattoo’s who worked with me to create the perfect reminder- ;)

It started upstairs. Over laundry that wasn’t put away. (Why do I hate putting away laundry so much? I have no problem folding and washing it… it’s the PUTTING it away that I detest.) Anyway- that’s where it started.

Or maybe it started with a craving for chocolate. And chips and salsa.

Then…It carried on downstairs. Where there were dishes in the sink even though the dishwasher was not full. (well, it wasn’t over full anyway.)

What carried on? Nothing…. just a little Mommageddon. AKA: when I throw a tantrum that would make a toddler blush.

“Why can’t anyone else do anything around here? I thought we ended slavery. I am not a maid service. I should not have to clean up after these people.”

Mommageddon always starts in my head- then explodes out my mouth like a nuclear attack. The fallout is (usually) temporary- and to be honest- my guys know to stay clear until it subsides. But this time- it didn’t stop with my mouth.

Not when I noticed that the mail person had run over my fancy pants mailbox. because no one had shoveled.

The snow.

By this point I was furious. And possibly- psychotic. I grabbed my coat and stomped into my shoes. I stomped all the way to the garage. I grabbed the snow shovel and shoveled.

It felt pretty good. It was as if the anger was scooped in every shovel full, at least for a while.

Then it felt bad. Really bad.

So bad, in fact, that I ended up at the ER.

Where they took this very lovely photo of my neck. Please note how very not nicely the bone graft is now lined up…. (top rectangular chunk) 0001

Which means- that my husband and I will spend the afternoon back at my neurologist where I will have to inform him of my stupidity and the ensuing Mommageddon. (It didn’t make the news. Funny- I know for a fact that Mommageddon’s happen all over the world- and rarely make the 5:00. Maybe it’s because they so often happen around 5…..while we’re trying to cook dinner….)

I’m hoping he will pat me on the head, reprimand me for being stupid and tell me it’s fine. Just be more careful in the future.

He may not. He may suggest I get my head screwed on straight. Literally. (If only it were that simple.)

So… I can hear you asking the question…

“Will she ever learn?”

The answer is: I hope so. I have got to come to grips with my limitations. I have got to get a grip on my frustration. I have got to reset my expectations.

To be honest- I debated even posting about this. It’s embarrassing. Especially since 2 weeks ago the same doctor told me my second surgery had failed to fuse.

Anger makes me stupid. But it doesn’t make me DO stupid things. That, was a choice. A choice compounded by hormones and stress. But a choice, none the less.

So now- I’m paying a price. in pain. In MORE stress.  Which is usually the effect of Momageddon’s.

I know I’m not alone.

So.. if you’re having one of those days….. stop what you’re doing. Take a deep breath. Not all damage is visible in x-rays…..but Mommageddon’s cause damage.  to ourselves. To our loved ones….. leave the shovel alone. Find a healthy way to deal with your anger. Exercise. (don’t roll your eyes at me.. it works.) talk. Pray. And maybe… let it go.

Snow eventually melts. Children will come looking for clean clothes when they need them.

You’re not alone. You can survive Mommageddon.

So can I.

Dear Lord- I hate it when I get stupid. I hate having limitations but even more than that- I hate losing my temper. Please help me to cope with frustrations in healthy ways. Please help me to let go of expectations that I need to let go of and please.. help me get my head screwed on straight. I love you Lord—- amen PS Lord—the whole PMS thing? Really. I’d like to quit. Not a fan.


Note: this post has nothing to do with my family…. I was PMSy and stupid…..this wasn’t THEM. It was me. Trust me. ;) 

“So, I’m not a hypochondriac? It’s not all in my head?” I said to the neurologist…. my eyes locking on his like a GPS locking onto a satellite…

“No, it’s in your neck. What did you do to your neck? It’s terrible. But, I will fix it.” Is his confident reply.

The words have become part of the script for every appoint with my neurologist. (Some people have a masseuse- or a housekeeper- I have a neurologist….not as much fun.)

I keep asking, because I keep questioning:

“Am I just crazy? How can a pain in the neck be…. well… such a pain in the neck? Could it be psychosomatic? Could it be my unconscious brain creating pain to get drugs by getting around my conscious brain’s aversion to them?”  As the daughter of a recovering addict- (23 years in December- Go Dad!) I am careful about drugs and the addictive cycle. I’d rather be in pain than on drugs. The question of genetics haunts me so I am (hyper?) vigilant of my potential weakness. And- Yes, of course I analyze myself like all terrible half educated counselors- duh.

Besides…. who ever heard of a cervical fusion not fusing? Seriously- there is a metal plate holding my head on straight- how can I still be in pain????? I also wonder…Is this like in junior high, when I faked injuries for attention?” Have I gotten so good at faking that I can fool myself?” (I never did get the hang of crutches but, I sure did get the hang of using them for sympathy.)

So many good reasons to doubt myself.

Here’s the thing: (more…)