I’m a bit of a rebel at heart, but in my own way I guess. I don’t do drugs or dance drunk on table tops. I’ve never driven cross-country alone or traversed the mountains with nothing but a backpack(although I totally would). I never rebelled as a kid. I’ve only had two tickets. I did well enough in school. I went to college. Got a degree. Got married. Had a family. I’m currently raising some little humans that I think are pretty cool. I mean, my life is pretty tame. I don’t really buck the system, but sometimes I feel the need to, because we’re under a lot of pressure to do all of the things. It makes me want to say no, just to prove it can be done.
Be this. Do that. Be like her. Do more. Do less. Be balanced. Get to steppin. Speed up. Slow down. Post more. Post less. Too many selfies, you’re vein. Not enough selfies, you need more presence. Update the resume. Monetize the hobby. Be more motivated. Climb the ladder….but don’t sacrifice your marriage or your family. Oh wait, don’t sacrifice the career you worked so hard for. Grow your business. Get more online presence. Lose weight. Gain weight. Eat better. Be on the PTA. Get more involved in the classroom. Do more than just take care of your house. Hold up, your house is dirty and a complete mess, so you clearly need to let some things go. You need more “balance.” And on and on it goes.
Or is this just the world I live in?
This school year hasn’t been what I expected it to be. In my mind, I set expectations for the year. All the things I wanted to do. How I would feel with all of my kids in school. What my days would look like. Races I’d run, workouts I’d conquer, I’d volunteer in the kids classrooms, clean my house every single day(I mean yes, unlikely, but I was being optimistic ok?), mentor young moms, because they want a big sister type whose walked in their shoes, blog regularly, add more clients to my plate, read more, do all the laundry in one day(hello. Also stupid. I mean, adulting is just stupid sometimes). The list went on. I had goals. Or so I thought.
I’m realizing now that what I set were expectations, not goals. They were my version of successful. Of the opposite of lazy. Just keep doing and working and being busy. Everyone else is, so I should too. Slowing down is not acceptable. Don’t be lazy with your time, because that makes you feel unproductive, which in turn, makes you(as in me) feel less valuable.
I just decided this busy thing is what my time and life/schedule should look like. And I tried to sprint off the line, and promptly fell on my face. Not because I failed at anything, no, but because I tried to do it all at one time. And no one person can carry that load without falling from the weight and the pressure that comes with it. From having unrealistic expectations. Expectations we place on ourselves to be and to perform. To rise.
My new season at home, in the quiet, is looking quite different from what I expected, and I’m working to find myself in it, and to accept that self with open arms.
I’m not doing any of the things I planned to do, at least, not in the way I thought I’d do them. I’m not at the kid’s school every day, or really at all(neither was my mom, and I had a really great childhood and knew she loved me, so there’s that). I’m not working full-time and the laundry, well, don’t get me started. I don’t feel found or sure. I feel a little lost and unsettled in my footing. I’ve struggled with comparison, which brings with it a whole other set of emotions, because that is NOT a message I believe in. I believe comparison is a tool the enemy uses to convince us that we are NOT enough, and that our worth is based on what we do and how we perform.
Which is a lie.
I feel passionately about sharing a message of truth, but even so, it’s one I struggle to grasp at times.
This message is the one I believe in, the one I think we just can’t hear enough….
That you are ENOUGH momma. Wife. Sister. Friend. Teacher. Grandma. Homemaker. Homeschool momma. Mother of a kiddo with special needs. Retiree. Student. Full time employee. Writer. Cook. Athlete. Whatever it is that you are doing, using your gift or gifts, is enough. And I believe that, but my mind and heart have had a bit of a tug of war as of late. They have battled over this concept of working for my worth. I know there is nothing I can do to earn God’s favor, that it’s freely given whether I’m running carpool or performing brain surgery.
Whatever holds our day-to-day, whatever it is that we do with our time, those are tools to share with the world a message of hope, of gratitude, of success that doesn’t necessarily have monetary value. They can bring us joy and massive influence, or they can leave us feeling underwhelmed and alone. But they don’t have to define how we choose to live. We can choose joy and laughter and hope and positivity in the midst of whatever circumstances we find ourselves in when it comes to what we do with our time.
Here’s the thing. After lots of Godly counsel, and tears, and soul-searching, and quiet moments at home trying to get my bearings, I have been reminded of what God says about ME. I know the truth. That I am enough. That I don’t have to be or do anything to earn God’s love and acceptance. It’s completely free. That he is compassionate and gracious and kind. That he wants my heart and my mind and my attention. Fully. That he says nothing about working my way to him, but in fact, died so we might live, free from the burden of a works based faith. So that we might come freely in all our mess.
But in a world that never ever stops moving, to slow down feels like a massive failure, even though I know it’s not. To go against the enormous and ever-moving crowd takes courage and a strong sense of who you are and where your true worth is found. I don’t always have that, but I’m working on it. I’m working to accept where I am this year, and to enjoy what comes my way. To lay down my expectations, to set realistic and attainable goals. Because goals are good ya’ll. I’m learning to buck the system a bit, to rebel against the masses and march to the beat of my own drum. To say no. To take care of my home and my family, because ya’ll, that is so enormously enough. And it is not a small or meaningless task.
Here are my Facebook thoughts from last week, that relate well to this post. I know this message of “just do you” has had me on a bit of a soap box lately, but I feel it has massive relevance to the struggles of men and women everywhere. We need to remind each other that it’s ok to settle in, right where we are. So we can find contentment and gratitude for the mundane and the day to day.
“When I write, I can see things that I can’t otherwise see, and I feel things that I can’t otherwise feel.” Shauna Niequist
This week has been about hunkering down. Being in my safe place. Not committing. Not doing more than necessary. Not rushing(at least not until 3pm, when the world suddenly races ahead at warp speed). Doing what I love and giving myself the grace to do MY work. My heart work. Which is writing and taking care of my home and my family. This is often (the home and family part anyway) seen as not enough, isn’t it? We must DO more. We must BE more.
I’m a dreamer(some may call it restless, but I’m working on it), constantly tossing around ideas of things I want to do, places I want to go, things I want to be, businesses to start, ways to improve, races to run, mountains to conquer….literally. But I’m learning, through a fair amount of tears and kicking and screaming, that this day-to-day stuff is enough. This is what God has given me this year. This space and this home and this husband and these kids. This blog thing that I still do, because the truth is, writing frees my soul. Even if no one sees it, or cares about it, it touches me. It helps me. It is something God placed inside of ME, and there is no shame in allowing that to grow and flourish. There is no shame in taking time out of my day(or yours) to read or write or say no to all the other things I could be doing. It’s ok to say no to stuff, even at the risk of seeming anti social or selfish. And so, I made a little extra coffee this week, cleaned some floors and made some graphics for the blog and explored some creativity that I often don’t give myself the freedom to investigate. I washed some uniforms and sat at practices, walked dogs and prepared all the food. I made the lunches and scrubbed the boy toilets. I picked up the dog poop and took out the trash. I did all the good things that I’ve been given to do, even if they sometimes feel insignificant. So, I want to encourage you today to do the good things YOU’VE been given to do, even if they don’t feel good. Don’t be distracted by what everyone else is doing. Their things are theirs, you do yours. The job you hate or love so much or the endless mundane duties of motherhood, that really serve to make precious moments that you will one day miss. Whatever it is that you are spending your time doing today, it is AMAZING and valuable because it’s life, which is a massive gift, so as Shauna says, let’s live as though we appreciate it.