Mary Poppins Confessional

So… remember that little phrase on my “about “ page that I am a “recovering perfectionist”? Yes, me too.  Well, pull up a chair. I have a confession to make.

Comfortable? Good. Excuse me for being a bit fidgety but, you know, I am about to “come clean”, so be nice and bear with me? K?!

I DID say recovering, nor recovered. Some habits die hard, they say. Well, I am thinking that ALL habits die hard.

I am a doer- a worker bee extraordinaire.  Busy, busy, busy all the time- buzzing around- finding a corner to dust (wait, why did I just say that- I LOATHE dusting!!) or a counter to wipe or an email to type or a cookie to bake. Talking on the phone pains me unless I am doing the dishes or folding laundry while talking. Multi-tasker is my middle name.

Have I ever gone to coffee with you? If I have, I enjoyed it. Trust me. I love coffee and talking with a friend makes it twice as nice. Oh, how my mind does wander though… My husband pokes fun at me because he asks a question and sometimes it takes me awhile to answer. Be nice, now! I have to shut off a million other thoughts before I can get to your question. I like to think of my mind as a “old-fashioned” pinball machine; my thoughts like the shiny metal balls pinging all over the place, bouncing up to proper order when I hit them into submission with my little “get it together” levers!!!

Rest and Relaxation rarely find their place on my “to do” list. You might as well replace those words with “idleness” and “laziness”. Call it a generational curse- my mom (bless her heart) was my teacher. Her theme was: “A man’s work is from sun to sun. A woman’s work is never done.” Literally, that’s what I heard my whole growing up years. She was always working, busy and active, that is until she got very sick with cancer and was forced to rest.

Back to me…

So why, you may be asking, the confession? Am I trying to assuage a guilty conscience? Am I trying to make all of you who are NOT this way, feel like slackers? No and No. As a matter of fact, I have fallen under the heavy hand of conviction (if you will) to:

 Stop the glorification of busyness!

Because you see, as I also mentioned in the “about” page,  I am also, hmmm, just a teensy-tiny bit STUBBORN. The lesson to slow down, relax and enjoy life has been pounded into me for years. I resist. It comes back to haunt me. One of the last words of wisdom spoken by my mom was that she wished she would have spent less time cleaning and more time “playing”.

Being busy is my habit and in itself is not a bad one (better to be a hard worker than a lazy one). When it comes right down to it though, I guess you could call it my idol. Yikes! That sounds ugly and it is.

So here’s what I am learning:

  • Rest and relaxation are GOOD things. God “created” the act of resting.
  • They are necessary- not “necessary evils”- but actually needed for greater productivity in the end.
  • I have ADD and I am ok with that!:)
  • Relaxing makes me a happier, more peaceful person. (Which I am quite sure my family would nod in hearty approval to!)
  • When I don’t rest enough, I get resentful of other people who are relaxing and I expect others (meaning hubby & kids) to be right alongside me- busy, busy.
  • In my buzzing, I am likely to miss “hearing” opportunities to help or give to someone or something of a much greater value.
  • Working hard does not always mean working efficient– as brought to my attention by my ever-loving, sweet, “managerial type” hubby, in a very kind way of course!

Recovering, yes. RECOVERED, no. Learning, as we all should be, to become a better version of me. Striving to be a more “things that matter” person. Thankful, that I have energy to get things done. Remembering, that without my Master, I can do nothing of my own accord to change myself.

Thanks for listening. I hope that, maybe, just maybe if you are like me (even a little bit), you will consider this a challenge to rest. Oh and please, would you put away that chair you got out? 🙂

Meet Karen

Broken and hurting, she sat week after week. At greeting time, she turned and shook hands, smiling weakly. What else could she do? Stand there pouring out her pain, confessing her struggles, laying her soul bare? “I’m Karen,” she managed. “Welcome to our church.”

 After the casual greeting, came the tears. They welled up hot and stinging in her eyes. She blinked them away quickly. No one knew. “No one would know”, she thought.  Her eyes dried and anger replaced the sadness.

This place was touted to be a solace. Here, people were supposed to find unconditional love- no matter what they were going through. But the shallowness of most, drove her mad. Karen clung to her faith like a thread but frayed and thinning. It was the only thing that kept her from the self-destructive thoughts that forcibly pervaded her mind lately. Who could she turn to? All she did was pretend to be happy outwardly, while inwardly she felt afraid and broken.

Karen really exists. She is the lovely wife to a hard-working husband, a sweet mother to her  children and a woman who wants more than anything to follow after God. Yet at the moment, her world is crashing down. Her marriage has morphed into a scene of disillusionment and violated expectations. Even though she loves her children passionately, they are not turning out the way she’d hoped and her energy is sapped by the demands of a toddler who never, ever quits. Add to that the stress of financial woes and economic bleakness and it seems without hope.

There are so many “Karens”, sadly, sitting next to us or a couple rows over at church. I know. I was her once; terrified to be transparent for fear that I might find wagging fingers in my face or “How to be a better wife, mother, Christian” books unhelpfully shoved at me. I felt hollow inside; guilty for not having it all together, shameful for not being able to pull out of my slump, deceptive for not allowing anyone to see the real me.

This should not be happening in our churches. The very love and grace poured out to us through Jesus, is being withheld from those who most desperately need it.  There should not be hurting people hiding behind a façade, afraid of the malicious words from someone who refuses to love in every season- good or bad or downright ugly.

We must choose to be the hands and feet of Christ, reaching out with the balm of healing in our hands, the soothing words of grace and peace on our tongues and the loving actions that do good to those who need it- always.

 

30 Days Without

Recently, I have been careful to listen to myself. Have you ever tried it? Not as easy as it sounds! Even harder is an honest self-critique about the words that come tumbling out. How easy it is to hear what others say. And the easiest “task” of all? To pick apart the words of someone else.

The past two weeks, I have been sadly aware of a problem of epic proportions- not only in myself, but in society as a whole:

~grumbling and complaining~

Here are some of the most common complaints I’ve heard:

  • unsuitable weather
  • uncooperative hair
  • not enough sleep
  • unsupportive husband
  • fussy baby
  • not enough time
  • flaky people
  • rude people
  • too much work
  • too little money
  • complaining wife
  • unappealing food
  • slow service
  • unfairness
  • naughty children
  • And the list goes on….

Two things have spurred me toward this challenge. One, is the season of Lent. Yes, I am a Christian and I’m observing Lent. (If you are curious as to why, check it out here.) The other reason was a challenge I read about here: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/resource-library/30-day-challenges/.

I’ve heard of and read about many 30 or 40 day life changing events and causes. You (and I) can do anything for that amount of time, right?! 🙂

So, dear readers, I am proposing a challenge of my very own for you and I. Ready?

30 days of no complaining

If this sounds like an insurmountable task, pick one area of grumbling and work on eliminating just that. What that means is: for 30 days, we will deliberately, purposefully, determinedly, NOT COMPLAIN. If you mess up, don’t give up! If you feel like you can’t do it, write me (or pray)! We will do this together. Be of good cheer, friends! My hope is that by making mental admission of our complaints, it will result in less grumbles coming out of our mouths in due time.

It is often said that habits can be broken or made in 30 days. Let’s break this epic propensity of voicing negativity. Just maybe, we will influence friends, family members and society to shut up already with the complaining and instead find something to be thankful for or be happy about.

Who’s with me?

 

Listen to the Quiet

Recently, I went on a hike near our home. It was a gorgeous day trip with my sister celebrating our birthdays and another year of life together.

As we climbed our way up the mountain, there was plenty of chatting and laughing.  There were the comments about the lovely Manzanita bushes and pine trees cohabitating beautifully. There was the conversation about aging (yikes!), raising teenaged kids and living peaceably with our husbands. With only a handful of other humans nearby, it felt almost as if the mountain was ours for the taking.

 Since we are getting old –ahem- we had to stop now and then to rest. We made these stops meaningful by looking at the scenery and marveling.  At one of these moments, I exclaimed (in a bossy little sister kind of way), “Stop talking!” And we did. We just stood in the middle of the trail. Silent. That’s when I heard something I hadn’t in a long time- a quiet that transcends even the quietest moment at home or work.

With three children, a husband, a cat, a dog and my job at an elementary school, quiet is a rarity for me, especially THIS kind of quiet. It resounded in my ears in a rather oxymoronish kind of way. It enveloped me, mind and body.

What we do not realize is how downright noisy our lives are. Even in the most silent moments, there is the ever-present din of white noise- the buzz of the refrigerator, the soft hum of electronics, the ticking clock. Then there are the “people and pet” sounds. We are a noisy bunch! Video game sounds (think machine guns and zombies), music (think teenaged kids blasting stuff I am not a fan of), talking, talking, talking, the dog barking, the cat meowing, the exhaust fans, the heating/ac unit cycling on and off, etc. My ears are filled to the brim sometimes.

I crave quiet. We as humans, especially those answering to the call of “mom”, need to get quiet. Just like a plant needs both water and sunlight to survive, we were created to thrive in the noise of other people and things. If not for those, we become weird hermit -like creatures.  Yet, we must also have the renewal of a quiet that feeds the soul and nourishes the mind- the kind that envelopes us in a haven of rest, like the silence of that rocky hiking trail.