That’s peace right there. And I was tempted to just try to join Olivia in the peaceful, innocent sleep of a child. But maybe some of these thoughts need to be said and heard.
For a long time now — so long I have trouble thinking of a time they did not exist — I have gone to bed in conflict. In conflict with what, I’m not sure. With myself? With my life? With my humanity? With the expectations of others? With my own expectations? Whatever the conflict is, it is not conducive to resting in peace. I now often consciously push the thoughts away and force myself to sleep. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you will also know that I do not “dream in peace” either. (Just go to the “Dreams” category on the side there and you’ll see.) Sure those dreams are interesting and they make great party stories, but there is not always peace in the dreams either.
But, getting back to those thoughts that I have… Here’s the deal. Marc and I occasionally (wish I could say “regularly”) use a prayer book for nightly prayers. I love it. One of the portions of the night office is a confession of sin: “I have sinned against you, through my own fault, in thought, and word, and deed, and in what I have left undone.” Other versions say “in what I have done and what I have left undone.” I love those words. They are exactly what I need to say each night.
But I HATE saying it. It causes me no end of inner turmoil to think that each day I have left things undone. Usually this about how I have done as a mom. Because, let’s be honest, I’ve screwed up A LOT as a mom. But I’ve noticed recently that even after a good, well-balanced day as a family I go to bed still feeling pangs of regret. Even if I’ve spent quality time with each of the kids I feel regret about that time. Like I could have done more.
The other night I crawled into bed after a very good day. There was nothing in it that was exceptionally frustrating or troubling. I had spent a good amount of focused time with the kids and that time was GOOD even (unlike a lot of times when you want to doing something fun and it turns into fussing and fighting). I felt those feelings of regret creeping up on me as I got ready for bed, and I told myself, “No. There’s no need to think those thoughts tonight. I’m not going to go to sleep in regret.” And I actually didn’t.
I would like to start doing that every night. And I know part of this must be locked up in me being a perfectionist even if that’s a part of myself I have been dealing with… or maybe I’ve been suppressing it… or maybe I’ve had it battled out of me after all these grown up years of living in a messy house with the messiness of relationships of spouse and offspring.
Whatever it is, some of you won’t get me. Some of you understand your own humanity and your own limitations. And that’s cool. Really admirable, actually. But I’m still getting there. I think I am getting there… slowly. I know that if I can’t manage these little regrets I am going to have some major problems when the big regrets of life hit. And I know there are nights when I won’t be able to nor should I rightly be able to rest in peace. In the meantime, I still strive to trust that God is present in my big and my little regrets, offering his mercy and love and peace.