How many sayings are out there about “Time?” Time is one thing that sets definite boundaries around our lives. We receive twenty-four hours each day. No more. No less. Let’s face it: women have lots to do. I often cram as much as I can into a day.
Cynthia Heald said something that’s stayed with me: “Time is a gift, not a possession.” Simplicity views time as a gift, not a given. I tend to take time for granted. I figure I’ll have time to do ____________ (fill in the blank) later. That way I can do ______________ now. If time is a gift, should I assume I’ll have an unlimited amount of it? None of us knows how many days we’ll walk this earth.
After Peter was born, I chatted with a friend who was further along the Mom-journey than me. I felt overwhelmed with all the demands that drop onto a first-time mother’s shoulders. So many to-do’s, desires and should-do’s sucked the joy from me. This question came up: “What’s on your plate?” She gave me a word picture I’ve never forgotten.
For the past couple years, instead of writing a list of New Year’s resolutions, I’ve focused on one word. My 2012 word was PASSION. I know, we’re well into a new year, but this word won’t let me go.
As I’ve considered simplicity over the past couple weeks, I see how walking out a life of simplicity opens up room for passion in my days and in my heart. When clutter is cleared from my heart and thoughts, I have the clarity to focus on the most important things. My heart and mind are free to think on things I’m passionate about.
Have you seen the Capital One commercials that close with the line, “What’s in your wallet?” My thought-response is, “I’m not telling you!”
As I considered simplicity and stuff on Tuesday, I was struck by the question, “What’s in my heart?” Just as I have material stuff needing some attention, I also have heart stuff that needs to be purged before I can genuinely walk a life of simplicity. Growing in simplicity really begins on the inside. When I’m walking closely with Jesus, I’m better able to hear His guidance through my days. Having an uncluttered heart helps in all this.
Sometimes, it’s easier to deal with the outer stuff than the internal issues. It’s a lot less painful. My heart-stuff isn’t all pretty and/or useful. Sure, there’s good stuff in my heart–the Holy Spirit, deep love for family and friends, a desire to show kindness to those who people my world, to help those in need, and to live this life well all reside in there.
But, there’s also ugly stuff in my heart. Two areas I’ve struggled with are letting go of hurts and insecurity. When I cling to unforgiveness, I only end up hurting myself. It hinders me from hearing God’s words in my heart, it hardens me, and it plants the seeds of bitterness. When bitterness takes root in my heart, oh, that’s when it gets really ugly. The longer I hold onto it, the deeper its roots plunge.
Picture a weed with deep roots yanked from the ground. These seldom come up with a gentle tug. Forceful pulling unearths it. Large clumps of dirt hang from it. It’s good the weed is out, but it costs muscle strain and energy to remove it. The same is true in removing bitterness from a heart. It hurts. A lot. The weed is out, but the pain of the uprooting burns for a time.
Insecurity’s clutter takes up space in my heart. God’s done a lot of healing, but scraps of it still hide out in my heart. I’m learning to identify thoughts that reveal insecurity and bring them to Jesus. I ask Him to show me His truth. When I see my insecurities in the light of His truth, it’s easier to release them into His caring hands. Jesus deals with them and lightens my heart in the process.
When my heart is clear of this stuff, I can live a life of simplicity. Nothing hinders me from hearing God’s words and experiencing His delight in me. Those barriers are gone, which makes it easier for me to hear and believe His truths. This enables me to walk in simplicity.
Your turn: What’s in your heart? What are your thoughts about simplicity and heart issues?
Last Thursday, I shared some musings on Simplicity. The biggest eye-opener for me has been seeing how much busy-ness prevents a spirit, a lifestyle of simplicity from being woven into the fabric of who I am.
Last weekend, I attended a seminar on simplicity, taught by Cynthia Heald. As a mother with elementary aged children, I have days when I yearn for a simpler life. I’m convinced this season of child-raising is just B-U-S-Y. Much of what Cynthia shared challenged me to refine and rethink my understanding of simplicity. For better or for worse, I’ll be sharing some thoughts, today and in future posts.
I try to keep margin in our family’s schedule. I don’t want to be a stressed-out mom toting kids to activities every night, a yell only one smart-alecky remark away. I’ve accepted without question the idea that busy-ness is a part of life.
When I checked the weather forecast, my heart jolted at the stark red line with the white words, “Blizzard Warning” emblazoned within it. Am I crazy to hope for a snow day? In April? Probably. Snow days equal “change in plans.” The thought of dropping all scheduled events for the day and hanging out at home with my kids makes me happy. Yes, I’ll still work on projects. We’ll also do things together, like see who can earn the most strongholds and fortresses in Lord of the Rings Monopoly. They will enjoy unexpected play time. I may even get to chat with the characters in my story.
What is it that makes my heart race with anticipation? I could say it’s because our region desperately needs the moisture. But, I’m not that altruistic. I’m just excited about the prospect of a day at home. In my hustle and bustle season, this change in plans makes it acceptable for me to play hooky from life-as-usual. Lighting a scented candle, enjoying a quiet morning, listening to wind howl outside, having young boy arms circle my waist for the first morning hug, and watching snow flakes swirl outside my windows . . . All these fill me with joy.
When things beyond my control–like blizzards–change my plans, it can be a good thing. I love the life I get to live–it’s full. Mommy and family activities, Bible study, the freedom to run errands and spend time with friends, these all make life fulfilling, and busy. Snow days are an unexpected gift of time. They give me the opportunity to view life with a different perspective.
I can already hear the clash of plastic light sabers as Peter and Edmund battle Sith lords in the basement, and possibly a few arguments. These are sounds I love. Okay, maybe not the arguing so much, but definitely the squeals of boys playing, and knowing we’re all safe and warm together.
If we don’t get our snow day, life will go on, and all will still be well. If school is canceled, I will be jumping up and down with my kids eager to behold the possibilities ahead. Either way, I am going to embrace our day.
Your Turn: What do you do when your day dictates a change in plans? How do you embrace the change?
On Tuesday, I shared observations from when our family attended a baseball game. Here’s a slight addition to that story. One of our children is a risk-taker, and one is not. When Peter was so eager to meet the team mascot–Sox the Fox–I asked Edmund if he wanted to go too. He shrank into his seat and gave a definite shake of his head. Too risky.
He looked like he wanted to meet the mascot, but it would be too embarrassing for him. Edmund dislikes being singled out for something–good or not-so-good. Ruining his reputation is too high a risk for our youngest boy. He stayed in his seat and watched his brother greet the fox.
Peter rarely worries about what others think. If he wants to do something, he’s going to do it. This is the boy who climbed thirty feet into a tree when he was six. Risk and Peter seem to be synonymous.
I’ve thought about the different mindsets my guys displayed that night. Peter was uninhibited about going after what he wanted. Edmund let fear of embarrassment stop him from getting something he wanted.
What about me?
Too many times, I’ve let risks persuade me to say no to possibilities life offers me. Fear of making a mistake in front of others, of trying something and failing, of being hurt in the attempt have all convinced me to say, “No way” rather than to take life up on its possibilities.
I’m purposing to get beyond the “No Way” mindset. A few things I’ve discovered that help me to “take on” risks are:
Realize I need to let go of some of the control I think I hold over my life. When I release my grip on life, I discover the ability to embrace adventure and try new things.
Look beyond the fear factor to the possibilities–fun, learning something, accomplishing something I never thought I could do are all great results from taking risks.
Tell someone I’m going to do something I consider risky. When there’s an accountability to “just do it,” I’m more likely to move out of my comfort zone and take a risk.
Taking someone along with me. When I try something new with a friend or a loved one, it’s easier to move beyond fear. It’s also easier to take the pressure off and laugh at myself.
There are times to say, “No Way.” There are also occasions when I need to answer an opportunity with “Okay,” even when risks are involved.
Your Turn: What helps you to say “Yes” to taking a risk in your life? What’s the riskiest thing you’ve ever tried?
Last summer, Hubby’s company took the employees out to the ball game. Minor leagues, but still an adventure. We cheered for the home team with the crowds, and we ate hotdogs and chips. But, no peanuts or Cracker Jacks. It was a first for our boys. Watching them brought as many smiles to my face as the game. They are a study in contrasts. They caught every pre-game detail, studying the score board, watching the players warm up, and showering us with questions.
And then, Sox the Fox jumped into the scene.
While Edmund engrossed himself in the game, every second or two, Peter’s question was, “Where’s Sox the Fox?” Forget watching all the great catches and the occasional double play. Peter’s eyes scanned the bleachers searching for the team mascot. Sox‘ newest fan gave me my own play-by-play of the antics the fox performed. From time to time, Sox disappeared from sight. Peter would scan the stands, worry creasing his forehead. When he spied Sox, he pointed with a grin. The actual baseball game was as captivating for him as math homework.
When Sox came within fifty feet of our seating area, Peter, bouncing in his seat, asked if he could go say hello to Sox. Of course we said yes. I watched him almost run to the mascot, and then slow as he neared his newest hero. He hugged Sox and scampered back to us.
As I thought about how Peter’s focus riveted to the fun distraction rather than the main event, I was challenged. How often do lesser attention-grabbers distract me from “the main thing?” How often to do I get worked up about some immediate worry and forget about the long term goal? More often than I care to admit.
Whether it’s a frustrating distraction like a flat tire, a fun distraction like shopping a great sale, or a painful distraction like harsh words aimed at me, my eyes become fastened on life’s distractions. I seek to keep my attention on growing in God’s grace, but some days, I strike out.
I’m working to recognize those times when I’m distracted more quickly and get my focus back on the game. It’s an inning by inning process for this lady.
Your Turn: When you’ve been distracted by life, how do you get your focus back where it should be? Do you enjoy baseball or prefer watching a different sport?