Here in our small corner of Georgia, our children are in the midst of the second full week of school. Which, for me, means that after ten years of staying at home with at least one little toe headed boy, there is instead quiet all around. I am far from empty nested, as it is only a few hours until their noise reenters our environment, and even while they are gone learning from our loving community of teachers there are plenty of things left in their wake that makes their presence in our home still fully known!
However, like anyone who has suddenly, or not so suddenly, found themselves in a new stage of life, there is plenty of doubt trying to creep its way into the experience. With that doubt, often comes his unwanted friend Worry. Yesterday, in perfect timing--as if God was capable of anything else--a quote by Oswald Chambers came to my attention reminding to not "take the pressure of forethought upon yourself. It is not only wrong to worry, it is infidelity, because worrying means that we do not think that God can look after the practical details of our lives, and it is never anything else that worries us."
"But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind" Job 12:7-10
Whenever you feel worry begin, dig down to the root of it before it can take root in you.
For me in the now of my life, worry was triggered by one seemingly innocent question that has been asked in a variety of ways but with still the same meaning at the center: "What are you going to do with all that time?"
Time, this almost tangible among intangibles. We want to enjoy it, we want to use it wisely, we want it to not fleet it away, we want it to stand still, we want it to fly by, we want to make the most of it, and we do not want others to judge the way we spend it.
There is great temptation to prove myself worthy and not wasteful to every person who asks that question. In truth there are lists upon lists in my head of things to catch up on, projects to tackle, goals to meet, people to connect with, and places to volunteer. However, also, admitting to anyone that there is a great desire to spend a week laying on the couch watching old movies, trying to replenish some of the sleep that has been lost in my first decade of mothering with daily naps is exactly what I am afraid to say out loud because it seems selfish and slothful, and goes against all things women have been responsible for doing since Eve screwed up the peace of the Garden for all of us. Kidding, but not really. You get me, right?
When we look at the world we see people around us constantly scurrying about. Even if there is a smile on the face of a friend you run into around town as you both pause in that moment to chat about life while your grocery carts are blocking two aisles and an intersection in Kroger, you still know that you both have an agenda and lots of things to check off before the day is over. So after that pause, however pleasant it was, scurrying picks right back up. I feel myself constantly quoting the visiting pastor from a favored Andy Griffith episode, "What's your HURRY!"
To answer this for myself, a list--of course a list--began trying to explain why people, myself included, feel the need to hurry about scheduling every possible minute of the day and more. Maybe you have other thoughts to add, and if so please feel free to share. I love hearing your thoughts and heart!
Thus far the list includes...
* Having to do life alone- You are the mother and father, the caretaker and breadwinner. Attempting to fulfill all the roles needed in a household was not the perfect Design, but a situation many find themselves in. Oh how I pray
there is community around each of you to help bear the burden.
* Overscheduling- When each person in the family has passions that you want to allow them to
pursue, plus friends to commune with, plus school activities to attend, plus
work that is needed to fund it all, plus...plus...plus you find yourself with a
nightmare of a calendar and the desire chuck all of it. I'm not going to lie, sometimes we need to go with that last desire.
* Too many yeses- Saying no, unless it's to your kids when they ask you for a dessert after touching zero of their dinner, is HARD. Even for us introverts who basically want to hide out in our happy place alone with a book, still struggle with
people pleasing where yeses fly out of our mouths faster than the nos cry out
inside. This inevitably results in a schedule full activity but a heart full of
bitterness as time is being used up by the dayfuls on things you might never
have wanted to do to begin with.
* Keeping up with someone else- Could be the Joneses, or the Mays, or the Keels, or the
or the Cardozas, or the random person you see everywhere
and can't remember their name but you know you MUST keep up with them. Therefore, you say those too many yeses, let
everyone sign up for everything, take in those extra practices,
exercise classes, leadership roles, and all else to make sure your
life resembles the ones of those around you.
* You are afraid to be still- This one stung the most. Afraid to be still. Afraid of what others may
think. Afraid of what you are missing out on. Afraid of what you may
learn about yourself if you have time to think about what you are doing. Doubt, worry, and then fear. They are a threesome never far away from
each other, but never produced by the Trinity. They are products of
darkness, only to be fought off by the Light.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit with the sister of a friend, who I would love to have become a friend herself. An artist by trade, she opened her home to me to peruse her art as I had a desire to add a little sophistication to my home with pieces that were unique all while supporting a local artist who also fits in the budget of one who, as I recently mentioned, hasn't worked outside the home in ten years.
Like many artists, she frames her non canvas pieces atop a white surface with plenty of room on the edges. This 'white space' takes away the potential for distractions as your eyes are now free to fully take in the beauty of what is at the center.
|photo cred J. Rollins|
We are God's handiwork, His art here to glorify Himself and be used in the lives of others. And around our lives needs to be the same white space any artist would give. Because, "White space is where the world and all the distractions falls away. Where the voice of the Divine can be heard..." ~Valerie Rickel
Days will come, seasons will come, that feel busier than others, depending on the ages of children, the life work you have chosen, the events of a given week, surprises that pop up and need to be dealt with immediately. Life is life, and in this imperfect world we can not expect perfection from anyone other than the Creator, our Savior, and the Spirit He left with us. We certainly can not expect perfection from ourselves, therefore how we use the time we are given will not be perfect either.
However, we CAN ask to be led to use it wisely and fight the temptation to use it all up with ourselves and for our agendas. For "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep."Psalm 127:1-2
Sleep. Rest. In Him.
Author of Spiritual Whitespace, Bonnie Gray said, "Spiritual Whitespace makes room--room in our hearts for a deeper, more intimate relationship with God, room in our lives for rest, room in our souls for rejuvenations.
So, as we continue forward with these thoughts towards the next ten months, and forever, I will be praying that there will be an opportunity to create some white space in our lives, room to breathe and see.
The time we have was never really our own. If we were bought with a price, than that includes all parts of us, time spent included. We cannot make the most of something that does not belong to us, but He will make the most of us when we give our time back to Him, the one who created it in the beginning.
I'll be praying for you, pray for me.