16 July 2015

i wanna start swinging

You know the list you have of the things your parents were right about? Like, for me- my dad was right that my red tights, red skirt, and red sweater from Benetton in eighth grade did make me look like a tomato. Well, I am finding out that God has been right all along, too. I mean, I have always agreed in my head that God is right, and that his ways are best. But after nodding along during sermons, I often turn around and live very differently from the truth I just affirmed.

I get paralyzed by perfectionism.  I suffered from that pressure long before Pinterest raised the bar.  So the gospel- the idea that God loves me BEFORE I am perfect, just-as-I-am, not for what I do but for who I am- that news frees me like nothing else. But sometimes I get stuck there, and miss a big chunk of God's plans for my joy. Like, I read Bible verses like, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters" (Colossians 3:23) and "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48). And I don't see how that meshes in a live-it-out way with the gospel of freedom, so I kinda ignore those ideas. 

Well, at my mom group the other week, we were talking about whether Christians are called to excellence in different areas of their life. And during the discussion, an idea that had tickled my mind in the past took root. Like many Biblical concepts people mistake for burdens, God's call to excellence is a gift! I have told my kids (students in my classroom, and biological children both) that trying hard is a present to yourself. I've asked kids, can you imagine playing on a baseball team where no one is really trying? The pitches make it halfway to the plate? People shuffle instead of run? No one gets out because throws are lazy tosses, and half-hearted swings never make contact with the ball?  Everyone on the team would be bored and miserable.  It would be worse than trying hard and losing. I'm preaching to myself here when I repeat: it would be worse than trying hard and losing. It would be boring. It would suck the life out of the players and they would hate the game.  Well, that's how I approach my tasks as a wife and mom more often than I care to admit. I resent the pressure to be perfect, and I am aware that God's love does not depend on me dazzling the world with my skills. So, I shlep through my days halfheartedly. I do what I have to do, but don't push myself to do more.

What a recipe for depression and disillusionment!  Kids constantly in front of the TV, kitchen in a shambles, time wasted online. I have so much more fun on days when we swing for the stands (to keep the baseball metaphor going). Moving from a "have to" to a "get to" mindset has been a game changer.  God doesn't ask us for our best efforts because he is some school marm from 1853 with a ruler in His hand, ready to smack our knuckles when we fail! He is like Willy Wonka, with a twinkle in his eye, pulling back the curtain to a land of color and joy that comes when we go for it! 

Now this is long post, I know, but there is another part I can't detach from this. Effort takes energy, and trying hard to engage with my kids and keep up with my housework and also share life with my husband takes a lot out of me. I feel like I am pouring out for much of the day. But my half-hearted days don't leave me more energized either. Instead of wandering through my days on autopilot, which leaves me discouraged, if I run through my days as "on" as I can be, I reach a time where I must stop and truly rest.  The Bible, of course, calls it Sabbath. True life and true rest leaves me so much more satisfied than disengaged life, never truly off and never truly on. In a nutshell, I am learning that my best efforts at an excellent life paired with Sabbath leads to amazing peace and joy, whereas trying to muddle through with as little effort as possible leaves me drained, tired, and stuck. 

There is so much more I could say, about how a life of excellence (while still free from the pressure to be perfect) is what I want for my kids to know, so I'd better model it. About how our witness to the world as believers is so hurt when we muddle through life, detached and vaguely bored. About how God's rhythms are beautiful and life-giving, and we are silly to think they are only "rules" that we "must" follow. That this idea of laying your life down so you can find it, giving up our way of seeing things because God's is better- this works out to be true in how we eat, physical exercise, friendships, marriage, parenting, career dreams... 

Some of you have been operating this way for a long time. You "got this" long ago. Bless your heart. Be patient with those of us slow learners. At any rate, I'd better go. I need to go pick up my bat, get my eye on the ball, and start swinging. #rainyday #gameon #sendmorelegos

02 July 2015

hashtag summer

It is 9:30 am. I am huddled in front of my computer, reading the 4 free Jen Hatmaker essays that are bonus pieces from her new book coming out in April. I am also eating the crumbs at the bottom of a bag of Baked Ruffles.

The children are in the other room playing some game that involves a whacking sound that should make me nervous.  One of them is dressed in fresh clothes for the day.  One of them is in the same clothes they wore yesterday. One of them is in... a diaper.

Sesame Street is playing, ignored, in the background.

 Is this the best I can do?  I don't know. Give me a minute. After Jen Hatmaker makes me sigh and chuckle, I will get my act together and maybe we will craft something, and I will attempt to make sorting laundry seem like a cool game. #summer