I'm reading a book. SURPRISE! Why do I make the announcement, when at all times I'm probably in the middle of 2 or 3 books? I need to cite the culprit of inspiration. None of us learn in a vacuum. All deductions and Aha moments are sparked by someone or something in Heaven or this world. The book today is The Missional Mom by Helen Lee. I'm working my way through this book. This involves many activities which make my mother cringe. Notebook on my lap, hi-liter and ink pen in hand and a cup of coffee are my tools for working through a book.
I had writer's block the other day, because I didn't follow my rituals. Ritual #2 - no phone calls in the morning before I start work. (We'll discuss the other 5 rituals in another article) I lose sight of my path when I let the happenings and concerns of others dance across my spotless morning mind in muddy shoes. All those footprints everywhere distract me. One of my phone calls that morning was a dear friend overwhelmed and fraught with a to do list that would stop any beast of burden, let alone a woman of ordinary physical capabilities. When I realized I was in a tornado of anxious thought and unable to clear my way to work, I sat down with my book. Almost immediately, my heart was softened.
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) This verse always makes me think of the Scrooge's in this world – hell-bent (literally) to make money they will never spend in their lifetime. “You can't take it with you.” I think of people sacrificing their family relationships to chase power and prestige, greedily behaving in unscrupulous practices at the peril of their soul, living in excessive (always a relative term) luxury.
For most of us, this is unimaginable. Yet, the enemy is deceitful, and he doesn't only harass the greedy Scrooges of the world. He doesn't serve his intentions up so blatantly. Subtlety is his middle name. For most of us, it's dressed in a cloak of what is normal expectations in our culture. Much of what we think we need are self imposed cultural expectations, not actual needs. A brand label on our clothes, smart phone upgrade, larger data plan, manipedi, new video game, frequent dinners out. You pay twice for everything. You pay your time to make the money, then you pay the money you made, then you need to do it again... for more.
When you look at what we treat as important in raising kids, it's academic achievement, extracurricular activities, preparing for a financially rewarding career with travel perks and significant retirement plan. What about their calling? What about their souls? What about a life of service? What about a spiritual center? I'm not talking about going to church and Sunday school each week, saying grace and bedtime prayers. Living a life of seeking secular achievement with a sprinkling of Jesus.
Are we secure or are we stressed? Teaching reliance and trust or fear and self reliance? There have been years I spent more time planning the family vacation than planning the development of my gifts to coincide with God's calling for my life. Random activities and new “stuff” are but a temporary soothing for the inner discontentment of an unanswered calling.
Do we confuse contentment with laziness because we aren't exhausted all the time? Is this really what God wants our lives to be like?
I remember how resentful I would feel, buried in a swamp of self imposed expectations. No one “understood.” No one would join me in taking on all the work necessary to be a “good” mom, businesswoman, homemaker, and hostess - simultaneously. Jesus could easily say to me, “Amy, Amy, you are worried and bothered about so many things.” (See Mark 10:38-42) I remember dumping my “list” in rants of frustration, hoping for offers of help. How selfish I believed people were, living a peaceful and content life when it was clear I needed help. I was completely oblivious to the obvious. This mess wasn't a mountain I needed to climb. It was evidence I was “doing it wrong.”
When you find yourself in the midst of a whole lot of self made stuff and you're frizzled, frazzled, exhausted and angry, when you know something's missing – consider this... what's missing is “down time.” Time to pray and meditate (that's when you give God a turn in the conversation), consider your calling, consider your purpose, sit down and read, take a walk, pursue that real RE-CREATION. You have more than enough going on – too much – and it's stealing your joy. It's OK to have joy. It isn't laziness to find contentment in clarity. Trust me, you'll have plenty to do – it will just satisfy you in a way that “keeping busy” doesn't.