I was in my house tending to my four month old daughter when the terrified screaming began. Neighborhood children burst through my back door crying, "Mrs. Hooker, come quick! Candy’s head is stuck in the porch railing!" Had it not been so pitiful, it could have been quite comical as I watched panic stricken grade schoolers, who had been calmly walking home from school, turn into a human dynamos as they ran and leaped our backyard fence. Everyone wanted to rescue her but no one knew just how. Poor little two year old Candace! All she knew was that she was stuck and she was scared to death.
I’m not sure how she managed to get her head through that rod-iron railing or what possessed her to try, but one thing I knew for sure, it wasn’t going to come back out the same way it went in. When I had unsuccessfully exhausted every effort I knew to free her, I decided to phone for help. Since the children’s elementary school was virtually at my back door, I rang the principal for assistance. Had it been Superman himself, I don’t believe I would have had any faster response. My only regret is that I didn’t have a camera to take his picture as he nimbly jumped our fence.
By this time, quite a crowd had gathered around the outskirts of our yard. People were asking a number of questions and tossing out advice. Nothing we were doing to free Candace from those wretched iron bars was working. Her little ears were red and becoming raw from our futile attempts.
What a miserable feeling it is to be stuck anywhere. I can remember being at a formal banquet and snagging my gown on a piece of furniture directly in front of the head table. I was so embarrassed. Then there was the time I was pregnant and got stuck trying to squeeze between two tables while at church. The time that I recall most vividly was a time in childhood when I stuck my wet tongue to my grandmother’s glass front door while trying to lick the ice that had frosted there. I must have looked quite a sight to my parents as they watched me through that door – tongue hanging out, eyes crossed and arms flying. I know for days afterwards I bore the ill-effects of that incidence in my mouth and it wasn’t a pleasant experience.
Mr. Sisson, the principal of the grade school, assisted by Dr. Auclair were finally successful in freeing Candace’s head from the railing. (By the way, in case you ever run into the same situation, they used a car jack to do it!) I sure appreciated those good men.
When the crisis was over and everyone was assured that Candace would be alright, it occurred to me how often I have found myself "stuck" in a rod-iron pattern of doing things that seemed impossible to get out of. For example, it seemed that no matter how many times I would clean my house, scrub the floors, wash the carpets or put away dishes, I was forever re-doing what had just been done. I often wondered if the endless cycle of changing dirty diapers, wiping runny noses, pinching pennies at the check-out line or falling behind in the ironing would ever end. I don’t believe it ever really does, but I do believe there are ways of managing one’s schedule so that one’s sanity is not lost in the process.
If you happen to be one of those who could identify with me and who long for a more controlled, consistent life, thy this:
- Go to bed at a decent hour of the night. Ps. 127:2 says, "it is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep." You are no good to anyone when you are tired and cranky. You must do things that will help foster a positive attitude towards the upcoming day. If you can function well with only three hours of sleep, fine but I know I must have at least six. If a baby keeps me awake at night, then I plan a nap in the afternoon. My mind needs the rest as well as my body.
- Begin each day with the Lord. Ps. 5:3 says, "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord…" With small children, it is often mid-morning before I actually have time to be quiet with the Lord, but I’m talking to Him as soon as my feet hit the bedroom floor. I meditate on scripture and Bible truths upon rising and mutter silent prayers for strength, guidance, wisdom and help as I hurry about the morning duties. I take Him with me everywhere I go and praise Him for His wonderful ways. It is no wonder that in those times when I depended on Him, I also had a song in my heart. When Jesus is in control, I am in control and the frustrations turn into joy, the disappointments into praise and the set-backs into positive evaluation times.
- Think ahead. Beside my telephone I keep a calendar with everything on it that must be done. For example: On Monday I might have wash/iron/clean. I know that must be done that day. On Tuesday, I might have sewing/piano. I am reminded each day of the major task that must be done, then my daily schedule is worked around it. I like to decide on Sunday afternoon how my week will be spent and make adjustments where necessary so that the musts are done. In doing this, I still feel like I have accomplished something even though I’ve changed dirty diapers, wiped runny noses and washed dishes until I don’t think I can do anymore. The desire accomplished is truly sweet and keeps me in a pleasant frame of mind.
- Be flexible. I know you’ve heard that the greatest ability is flexibility, but it is a timeless truth. I think our greatest number of disappointments occur because of our inability to "shift gears" easily. This was a problem of mine for a long time but I asked God to recharge the battery, oil the rusted parts, and help me to be genuinely flexible, so that I could give Him greater glory.
We don’t have to fly off the handle, frustrate ourselves needlessly, or worry ourselves to death if we will learn to be flexible, take time to plan ahead and depend totally upon the Lord. At least, we won’t have to be "stuck." It’s easy for outsiders to say "hang in there" when their head is not in the hole, but there is HELP available if we trust God to pull us through.