I came across this question on my facebook feed and found it to be a powerful writing prompt. I answered on the page that posted it, but I want to expand it more.
You are one of the disciples. Today is the day after the crucifixion. What are you thinking AND feeling?
I woke up this morning lost, confused, and scared. All of us are crammed in this little room. We’d been praying for most of the night, trying to figure out what was going on when exhaustion took over and we slept.
The morning light is filtering in through the window, the dust of the desert air floating through the rays. The morning is cool but I can tell it’s going to be hot today. Oh man, my head is throbbing. What just happened yesterday? Is it even real?
I look around. The others are starting to stir, too. We all look at each other. I think their expressions match mine and match what I’m feeling inside.
“Am I dreaming?” I ask Matthew.
“I don’t even know,” he replies. He looks he’s just gotten word he’d lost everything. Like Job. I suppose we all have.
I get up and walk over to the window. The city is still silent. Joseph of Aramethia got the body and buried it hastily yesterday. We didn’t have time to do it properly before the Sabbath today.
It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.
I can’t help but think that something has gone terribly wrong. I thought Jesus was supposed to save us. I thought he was supposed to overthrow Rome. I thought he was supposed to be a king. I thought… so many things. Did this really happen?
What are we supposed to do now? I feel so lost. Peter hasn’t said anything since the night before last, when he denied Jesus. When we all did. We all ran away. Is that why this happened? If only we’d all stood together, fought back. Things would be different then.
Maybe it’s all our fault.
We let him die. We just ran off and let them kill him.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Weren’t we just riding in Jerusalem like heroes? How did everything change so fast? What went wrong?
Was this really what he meant? He’d been talking about how he needed to die. I didn’t think he really meant die. I thought it was just a figure of speech. A parable. He talked like that so much. I just thought it was figurative.
I can hear more people moving around behind me. I hear someone sniffling. We all feel that way.
“We should keep praying,” John suggests.
“Pray for what?” I think that was Thomas. I don’t want to turn around. My eyes are brimming with tears.
“I don’t know,” John admits. “But we should anyway. It’s what he would have done.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Thomas replies. “It’s all over.”
In my mind, I agree with Thomas. It is over. God’s kingdom? Here? Now? It’s completely impossible. We can’t do anything else. We can’t do this by ourselves. My soul is heavy and aches in a way I never thought possible.
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.
I blink and the tears fall. I quickly wipe them away and clear my throat. I turn around and see that no one is looking at anyone. Everyone is looking at the floor. I see John’s lips moving. Thomas looks like death. I walk across the room and sit down next to John. I feel like Thomas, but I want to feel like John. Maybe if I sit close to him, it will rub off on me.
I breathe deeply and try to pray. I have nothing. All I can say is that it wasn’t supposed to end this way. All I can do is ask why.
Is that good enough for God? Will he condemn me for my lack of faith? How can I even believe anymore? I thought we were promised victory.
I can feel myself getting angry. How is John even praying? Who is he praying to, even?
I stand up and head for the door.
“Where are you going?” Thomas asks.
“I’m going for a walk.”
“But it’s Sabbath.”
“I’m going for a walk,” I repeat. What else can I do?
I’ve had a number of friends over the past three years comment to me about how they could NEVER stay home. They don’t understand how I can possibly stay sane while being surrounded by tiny human dictators completely incapable of controlling their emotions.
I’m going to spill the secret today.
I place a high level of importance on pursuing my own activities and hobbies throughout the day or throughout the week. That’s how I do it.
I have a number of creative endeavors I pursue, such as writing, knitting, and crocheting. I intentionally spend time away from the kids, yes when they’re awake, so they learn to play by themselves and I do something for me, whether it’s just going to the bathroom alone or writing up a blog post (such as now). I also pursue my hobbies in front of them. I crochet while they watch. I read while they watch. I write while they watch.
Sometimes, I feel like I’m screwing up like when my three-year-old makes sure she has a phone and laptop with her. I get really self-conscious about that sometimes. When I think about it, though, I’m not perfect. Some days, I spend WAY too much time on my technology because I feel like I need to escape. Other days, I spend a good portion of the day interacting and playing with them. I write on my laptop. I edit my youtube videos on my laptop. I do my social media stuff on my laptop. I do have a number of ventures that require technology and so her imitating that is inevitable.
What I don’t understand is how parents stay home and stay sane WITHOUT pursuing some kind of activity for themselves. I cannot overemphasize how important it is to find something you like and engage with it, especially when the kids are watching. They need to know that mom is a person outside of mom. Mom has interests. Mom has things she likes to do too. When they are really little, they don’t understand that fully, but as they get older, they will understand it.
Having my own hobbies and interests sets a good example for the kids, too. At 1 and 3, they are already learning the importance of self-care even if they don’t know what that is yet. They are watching someone else pursue hobbies.
It teaches them to entertain themselves, as well, which I believe is a key factor in being successful. If they find themselves bored, they need to figure out a solution. Sometimes that means they get into my vacuum cleaner and make a huge mess. Sometimes that means they go up to my daughter’s room and play for 20 or 30 minutes.
Yesterday, I asked my daughter if she wanted to play outside while I edited and everyone else napped. She took her friend Elmo outside and played for an hour and it was COLD! She came in and out getting various toys, we put on more and more layers as she got colder. She took a break for a snack. She played by herself the entire time, though. Sure, she needed my help for this or that and once I had to scold her for going into the street, but that’s exactly the kind of behavior I want to form in my kids. I was able to do what I needed to do and she was able to have fun by herself.
As the weather is getting nicer, we are spending much more time outside, too. Soon, I will have a garden to tend to and they will have to play outside while I tend the garden or pick up dog poop or do chicken chores. What I cannot do is spend every moment with my children. That will drive me crazy and make into the kind of person I don’t want to be. When I intentionally and openly take care of myself, I teach them valuable lessons.
It’s easy to take this too far, though, and start neglecting the kids in favor of my hobbies. I have days I do that because I need more self-care on those days, but they are days. Isolated events. I can be hard to find the balance between spending enough time with them and enough time by myself. After 3 years, I feel like I’m finally getting it figured out.
Of course, none of this is possible without the generous support of my wonderful husband. He thinks my hobbies are great and that I should pursue them. He doesn’t get huffy when the dishes have been ignored or the laundry I dragged downstairs yesterday is still in a massive pile in the laundry room unwashed or is washed but in baskets in the living room. He doesn’t get on my case about the house not being immaculate. He does his share. He does the dishes. He washes his own laundry because I couldn’t guarantee that I would give the care and attention necessary to keep his nice clothes in one piece. He offered to do that. He doesn’t complain. He does remind me when I’m going to far in one direction, though as much as I hate that in the moment. I know he cares. I know he wants the best for all of us. He knows that I need to take care of myself if I’m going to take care of the kids and still have energy for him in the evenings.
It’s a team effort. We can’t do this without each other. Mutual support, respect, and understanding. I love my kids, but they drive my crazy sometimes. I am an introvert and I need time by myself to regroup and fill my tank. I make sure to do that. I make sure to care for myself. Also, never underestimate the power of a good soundtrack mix on YouTube.
What about you? What do you like to do for yourself?