Renewed inspiration! Fresh starts! Excellent intentions!
For numerous people the idea of making big changes in January usually conveys feelings of, “Why bother?” or “It didn’t work last year,” or my personal favorite, “Tomorrow. Yeah, definitely tomorrow.”
When we started our student-based ministry eleven years ago I wondered if my structured life might ever return. This mainly irritated me because I’m a bit of a perfectionist by nature – organized, systematic, color-coded, logical, and… tired.
Even with our students gone now I still err on the side of weary and bitter, but not purposely. Between juggling marriage, motherhood, housework, exercise, neighbors, newsletters, blog posts and a 25-page book proposal, I frequently feel spread too thin.
Pride doesn’t want me admit what’s truly going on in my head when piles of everything are taking over my home, niños aren’t obeying, and foreign ministry isn’t as blissful as it appears in public updates. *Gasp!*
Juggling social media becomes a whole ‘nother energy-sucker, especially when I’m not paying attention. I’m caught off guard though when I open Facebook and see posts reminding me to pray for friends who are battling terminal illnesses. What would they give to switch places with me and only have to juggle instead of battle?
A few years ago, January found me taping a 3×5 card on my bathroom mirror that read, “Get Outside Yourself.” Whenever I’m stepping on another Lego, solving another problem, wiping up another spill, fighting writer’s block, carving mud out of one more sole, having another “discussion” with my husband, staring at long lines of clothespins, observing the state of our boys’ bathroom, and answering the same question from nine seconds ago…
I need to pause.
Pause and pray that 2017 will bring more moments of remembering to be outward-focused instead of circumstance-driven.
How I choose to react to the daily life (that is sometimes just so… daily), depends on me. It’s my choice to either let all the minor things eat at me, or to step back, look at the bigger picture and nod my head in gratitude. Such a breeze to type these words, but wow.
Ever found yourself here?
Small Picture: My washer broke.
Forgotten Blessing: I own enough clothes to get me through the next two weeks. Or four.
Big Picture: Neighbors down the street still scrub on a washboard.
Small Picture: My kids ran through the house with mud on their shoes.
Forgotten blessing: My kids can run. And we own a rad broom, which they know how to use.
Big picture: Large populations of the world live with mud floors their whole lives. And weak-sauce brooms.
Small Picture: My tween/teen and I keep butting heads.
Forgotten Blessing: This is only a season, and he/she runs around in a healthy body.
Big Picture: Three of my friends have lost children.
Small Picture: I loathe washing every dish and utensil dish by hand.
Forgotten Blessing: We possess enough food to put on those dishes.
Big Picture: Whining about a dishwasher screams entitlement. Gag.
I’m living in a Mexican town surrounded by the poorest people I’ve ever met. Even amidst the inconvenient and tiresome challenges making up some of my days, I need to remember how many women in town would gladly switch places with me in an instant.
Would any of your neighbors switch with you?
Most women are natural jugglers. I felt pretty snazzy when I managed to feed my newborn and write a thank you note at the same time. Scrambling eggs, spreading butter on toast, and quizzing my son on multiplication facts simultaneously? No sweat. Working out and thinking about breakfast at the same time? Bring it.
The snag comes when we boast about being able to multitask (which some argue isn’t even a thing), and then fall into bed hours past when we wanted to, exhausted and bitter about multitasking all day. I resolve to consider friends who aren’t being asked to juggle anymore; they are instead battling just to live.
I currently have four friends who are being ping-ponged between doctors, pricked with needles, sliced with scalpels and guaranteed there are no guarantees. And yet they still ooze outward-focused living. Anyone who knows them would surely give them their blessing to spend as many hours in bed as they desire.
Isn’t it ironic how we run into sick people who are light-hearted and grace-filled while multitudes of healthy humans walk around in a state of perpetual grumpiness?
My friends battling for life choose to get out and bless others. And on the days they can’t get off the couch? They still bless others with words of encouragement and outward-focused prayers. They have Christ-like qualities I want to emulate. Their lives, and their battles, are compelling reminders to get outside myself.
Albeit a juggling game at times, this new year sits laden with opportunities to help and bless. Let’s get outside ourselves and start being more others-focused.
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11, NLT