Don't you just love/hate how those nit-picky truths of life get in the way of living the way you want to?
I sure do.
My most recent encounter with Things I'd Rather Act Like I Don't Know came in the form of an Elizabeth George book, "A Woman After God's Own Heart." Say what you will about the whole patriarchal vs. complementarian models of marriage, I think we all aspire to be the best possible wife and mother that we can be. And we know how to go about that. Really, we do. Being a faithful follower of Christ, a great wife, an awesome mother is not a secret path walked only by those who have Figured It All Out. If only that were the case! Then we'd have an excuse, right?
No, the truth is that so often, we (and I'm lumped soundly in this group, trust me!) just don't want to do the work that it takes to get there. Because that work, well ... it takes sacrifice. It puts others ahead of ourselves all the time, even when we aren't feeling especially giving. And really, it's not always as much fun as the other stuff.
We know the work that needs to be done. We've read the job description. We'd just rather ... you know ... read a book and drink Oolong tea. O.k., maybe that's just me. :-)
I have a firm, satisfying faith in the Lord. I have a great marriage. I have amazing relationships with each of my kids. People who know me in real life generally think I've got a decent head on my shoulders (I think). I am living the good life, people.
Reading Elizabeth's George's book, though, made me want to aspire to the GREAT life.
As I've said, the keys to the great life aren't hidden from us. They're in plain view, if only we choose to see them. Elizabeth George breaks them down as priorities:
#5-Your spiritual growth
#6-Your ministry activities
Everyone has to define the specifics entailed in those categories by herself, of course. For me, ministry includes phone calls (mentoring friends), fundraising for our nonprofit, doing some volunteer writing and editing for our foster agency, and a host of other things that might not look like "ministry" on the surface. My spiritual growth doesn't include my Bible time, because I put that up there with #1. But it does include listening to podcasts of some of my favorite pastors and speakers, as well as reading books like the one I'm talking about here.
I'd like to say that there's wiggle room in some of those last priorities, but you know what ... I've found over the past few weeks that for me, there's not. For example, I'm more than happy to slide #4 (Casa Blandings) down below ministry activities. But you know what happens when I do that? I end up in conflict with #2 (Mr. Blandings) who is suddenly sockless and bereft at the state of the laundry pile. And I'd also like to say that from time to time, #6 (in the form of writing an encouraging essay) can take precedence over #3 (the children), especially when there's a deadline looming. But again--catastrophe. Oliver ad Manolin find their way into the potted plants, Logan dares to use the last nub of Jo's pale blue watercolor pastel, and Atticus commandeers the very last pair of fresh lithium camera battery for his latest Lego robot creation. On Christmas Eve. I could say that where there are no oxen, the manger is clean and chalk all this up to the happy chaos of a large and growing family. But the truth is that my absence--my misplaced priority--has consequences.
Would that it were more difficult to discern. ((sigh))
MMX, people. 2010. A whole new year. A time of fresh starts. A season of rebirth and regeneration. Yet another moment to pause, reflect on the blessings we've been given, and recommit to steward them well and wisely.
I'm walking into the new year with a heart that's listening more intently for ways I can serve my most precious gifts. I'm using the priority list above to help me better allocate my time and my energies. Don't be surprised if you see me here a little less often than usual as I wrestle my earthly desires into line with my higher calling. There's a lot of work to be done, after all. All I have to do is roll up my sleeves and get to it.