We are always in transition. Have you ever noticed that? We’re moving, even when it seems like we’re sitting still. Even when we feel that the days are long, the years seem to go racing by. Our children’s needs are constantly changing, and they themselves are a wonder – always growing, learning, expanding, blooming. They are different week to week. So are we. Each stage of our lives seems to unravel in rapid motion and we find ourselves struggling to recall what the last chapter of our days looked like. Always moving. Always transitioning.
Lately I have noticed our family in a slump. We’re not connecting like we want to. We’re not thriving, we’re surviving. Maybe that’s why I wanted to start “A Year of Challenges”. Maybe because in my heart of hearts, I’m desperate to do something. Anything that has some connected value. Not just living life and going through the motions of our stage – though certainly there is value to be found there. But I’m talking about experiencing life in a different way. And to be clear, I’m not talking about bungee jumping off of a tall bridge. Uh-uh. No. I wanted to take on the “30 Days of Nothing Challenge” because we have become a bit stagnate. We’re just kind of existing over here and going through the motions of our busy lives. The kids have school, Awana, play-dates and activities. AB has two jobs and a constant stream of rehearsals/theater/writing chipping away at his time. I have my own two jobs, raising the children, keeping our home in makeshift cleanliness. We are not fulfilled. We are drained, tired, and in many ways…defeated. Is this all there is? What’s the purpose? Make money to spend money? Raise our kids to go to school to get an education to get a job to make money to spend money? That’s the goal? We have a gnawing feeling that in the middle of all of this “life” we’re rushing through, we are still missing out on “living”.
Do you ever feel that way?
What I’m referring does not have monetary value. It cannot be bought or sold, much like happiness. It’s not about winning the lottery and living out the rest of our days on permanent vacation – that’s not the version of “thriving” I’m referring to. It’s a change in the heart. A realization that perhaps there is more, much more to living than the daily grind? Of course my faith in God almost requires that I recognize there is more. Of course there is. There can be spiritual fulfillment in so many areas of our lives if we are seeking.
But I’m actually speaking to maturity. At what point do we truly grow up and realize that there is more that is required of us. Not the other way around. We don’t need more. We need to DO more. Extend more. Reach out more. Give up more. We don’t need to acquire…we need to realize what is required of us to truly experience the abundant life we were promised. Do we have the courage it takes to be different? Do we have the tenacity to just STOP and re-structure?
You know how we sometimes get a flair of energy for a new project in our life? Like weight loss or spending cuts or weekly date night with the spouse. We make great intentions to start or stop doing certain things and a few weeks or months in, they fall apart? This happened and then that happened and it just kind of stopped altogether? Well of course I’ve been there. Many times. Little projects that kind of fall flat after a while. A lot of that is my own weakness. My lack of “stick-to-it-ness”.
Well, this feels different. Bigger. More drastic. It feels like it’s the beginning of a lot of changes, but I have no idea what they are or will be. It feels like the start of something terrifying and beautiful all at the same time. I’m just like a lot of you – apathy comes creeping in. I have no idea where to start. I don’t know what to do. I feel overwhelmed. How do I make any significant life changes when I can’t even make a weekly meal plan? (or cook for that matter) Where do I find the “umph” to even begin. I know I’m probably missing the bigger picture but I just can’t find the strength to pursue it. I’m sure there’s more to life than what I’m doing, but who has the time?
“Each time he [Jesus] said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Tools at our fingertips, I don’t think we can afford to continue to feed our own sense of apathy with excuses. Our world…our Nation…your neighbors are hurting. Maybe you’re hurting. I certainly have my fair share of those days. There is need all around. How self-absorbed have we become that we just keep our heads down, our eyes set and keep on walking. Can I keep looking myself in the mirror and feeling that I’ve somehow done my share? Or that those problems are better left for someone else to take care of – I’ve got enough? For me, no. So I need to force my concrete drenched feet to start taking steps away from “self”. It’s exceedingly hard for me to imagine it…but I don’t think I can bear the alternative anymore.
So first, my plan is to do this, and I’m not trying to be cliché when I say this to you: I’m going to pray about it. I’m going to literally sit down and ask God to show me how I can make significant changes in my life that will help my family to thrive and not just to survive. So that means this is my first change – I have to set aside time to have a quiet time with the Lord. No, not that random “I have a few minutes here” nonsense. I’m really going to have to commit myself to making this an intentional life-changing priority. How else can we truly know where we’re supposed to be or what we should be doing if we’re not listening to the One who orchestrated our innermost being? Giving up control of your life and trusting in God’s goodness to lead you? Yeah, that’s a tough one. Thriving over surviving? Totally worth it.
I know these things are true:
* Those faces up there? Anton and I have been given a much greater commission than to simply feed and clothe them. We sense to our core the responsibility to show them what Love, Kindness, Giving, Trusting, Encouraging, Serving, Helping, and Ministering to others looks like. To fear God. To honor your parents. To love your neighbor. In some ways, we are. In too many other ways, we are failing miserably.
* We were meant for more than just surviving. We WERE. Believe it!
* I am responsible to show my beautiful children what “thriving” looks like. If I am more concerned with what TV shows I am missing….well….what can I possibly expect from them?
* There are millions (yes, millions) of opportunities for us to reach out to others. From little, yet effective ways to big life-changing ways.
* We are accountable for our choices and decisions.
* Our choices and decisions matter deeply
What happens between the living and the dying – that’s all about our choices. We were given free-will for a reason. How we use that free-will is showing up more and more in my conscience every day. And the question remains of whether or not those choices that I have made or will make will show that I honored God. Have I shown these two amazing kids who have been entrusted to me – of all mothers – to me, what our lives should look like? I don’t have all the answers to life’s questions – none of us do. We are all different. All unique. All having our unique set of talents, gifts, and strengths that we bring to the world around us. How we use them, how we give those talents, gifts and strengths away….I think that’s where we find ourselves thriving.
“Tell those rich in this world's wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they'll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19