Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Minimalist Time: Follow-up

I had such high hopes when I was writing about this topic but if the last few weeks were a test, it'd be slightly disastrous. It's been a "piled up" couple weeks and not clearing up right away. So what of using my mental space for gratitude? How have I done with my prioritizing? And doing everything with love? 

Ha! I'd spend entire tasks feeling uncertain and guilty because maybe I should be doing other things but I didn't know because I'd never sat down to number my tasks. Most days I dove right in with a simplistic agenda that read something like this: Put. Out. Fires. Everything I tried to do got complicated. I'd mark out time to get something from the store and they wouldn't carry it. Then there were sales I'd been waiting for at two different stores, but no money set aside for those expenditures this month. Brian was going away for a week, and we need to sell our vehicle before we buy another, but I didn't want to field calls while he was away. On the other hand, I seriously doubted he'd have time when he got back. It went on and on like this. 

I did cling to some semblance of the minimalist ideas and they helped me along, but here's what made it impossible to follow through well with any of them: I got scared. In passing, I'd probably nickname it stress, maybe even admit I was worried. But inside, I was scared. Here came a storm of activity - things to accomplish, people to interact with, money decisions to make. And it wasn't short-term, but stretched beyond any hormonally super-powered week. (Seriously, I'm a rock-star every once in a while.) Would I hold it together or lose everything I'd caught glimpses of? Now that I'm writing this, I remember one of the few times I've felt God "talk" to me, which means a totally contrary idea came into my head with such strength and warmth that I knew it wasn't mine. I was stressing about getting to pen and paper to write down what I'd learned from my prayer time - afraid I'd forget, when he said, "You can't lose me." I wish I'd remembered that in the face of the flurry, but I'm remembering now, mid-storm and it will make a nice mantra.

So back to my fear. It was the posture I chose, but I didn't realize it. Since then, I've been confronted with the idea that we choose between trust and stress. Why would anyone choose stress? It wreaks havoc in my body, from tension headaches to a popping jaw, but I choose it. I couldn't even picture myself doing the opposite. Trust seemed even scarier. Scarier because it feels like letting go and giving up control. When I tell people, "I'm so stressed," they think I have a lot on my plate - lots of big, grown-up, important things to handle and manage and make better. I'm pretending I'm in charge of all these things going on with me. So I asked myself what I'm so desperate to control? And here's what I said: 

Finances. Kids' salvation. Kids' safety. Disney trip. Husband's safety. My emotional status. A car sale and purchase. Larger church organization. The food industry's moral compass. Heck, terrorists. 

what I imagine it feels like to be small and trusting and happy
As I made my list, I was struck by my smallness. I'm not big enough to be in charge of any of these things. And then I thought, maybe that's what's ultimately stressful. I'm insisting on managing things too big for me, things I was never supposed to take responsibility for. I thought being overly responsible was a virtue, but maybe it's just the how-to for unhappiness. This is hard if you've sung yourself the "I can't trust anyone else to do it right" song. Hard to let go.

Maybe the only thing I need to let go is my doubt. Do bad things go on? Yes. Is that how God made the world. No. Did he or did he not give himself to make things good again? He did. Then his love is proven and I have no basis for my doubt. Every other tragedy is distraction because it can all be redeemed. What he set straight is eternity. So I'm refocusing. My storm isn't over, so I have a chance to practice saying no to stress and yes to God. Because he's trustworthy. And he's big, so it's okay that I'm small. Jesus told the grown-ups to be small. I can stop pretending I have control and do my small work. 

Which is...
Do what I should and do it with love.
Open my eyes to see the gifts and let my soul swell with gratitude. 

I'm gonna try. 


  1. You're last line reminded me of this book I've been reading, "One Thousand Gifts." Its a little flowery but a wonderful challenge to see God's gifts in everything around us.

  2. I'm reading that right now too! I quoted her directly a few posts ago. She does write more like a poet - so powerful.