I am learning that humans function best with wiggle-room. I can not remember hearing anyone say, “I hate the fresh air and wide open spaces.” Rather, I take notice when I am outdoors with someone (even if it’s on the porch) and listen to their sighs and hear them articulate a love for space.
That need for air and room and margin (room where there’s nothing to do; there are no deadlines, no goals or agendas) speaks of a deeper need in my life. Because I tend to define myself by accomplishments, I stay overly busy. And, I affirm that I am productive and my worth is validated.
Or, so I think.
I’m seeing how very unhealthy that can be. I have seen my life as a budget spreadsheet, as though I can be cut up into parts, segmented to divide among the many jobs around me. I have seen myself as a commodity. Now I am beginning to see with fresh, new perspective.
The pragmatic part of me (which is most of me) wants to go from Point A to Point B and get it over with. Don’t waste time and effort. Just do. But, I am realizing that life isn’t a checklist. I don’t really enjoy seeing the items marked off the to-do list as much as I enjoy a peaceful walk pushing my toddler in the stroller though the neighborhood or a drive to the park to stare at the sun glinting on the water. I long for trees and worn paths where grass doesn’t grow. That Redwood tree out back begs me to come and see how much it has grown over the last year.
That room to be quiet and still and feel the air gently blow across my face (as opposed to feeling the wind sweeping over me as I run at a breakneck pace) isn’t as wasteful as I have thought. It’s an investment. I need it more than I need clean floors.
I am more than a machine that needs oiled and maintenance. I need time to stop and feel. Underneath the flesh that gets the job done is a being with feelings and wonderings. Those take time too. I propose to leave some empty space – room in my life to breathe in deep and stop to experience peace.
During the Summer months, it seemed easier to push aside responsibility and play. Now that I’m back to homeschooling, we are counting the hours. I want to work hard, but with gentleness. I’m listening to my oldest daughter talk about making investments toward good mental health by doing the things that she loves and not only what is on the schedule and I’m hearing that echo in my heart. My, how I learn from that girl.
And, in a timely fashion, I’m reading through Seasons of a Mother’s Heart by Sally Clarkson and she referenced Ecclesiastes 3:9-15:
9 What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.
14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is,already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.
The quiet margin in my life might be the time that allows me to ponder on the eternity that God has set in my heart. Perhaps that is what I need, what I am longing for. Today’s duties have to be done and I can eat and drink and even take pleasure in the toil. (Tea time, anyone?)
Let me share this quote from the same book by Mrs. Clarkson. “So make the choice to celebrate life with your family. It is so easy to think that life consists of the assorted responsibilities, tasks, and crises that fill up the hours of each homeschooling day. But it doesn’t. The parts of life that matter most are the unexpected moments and memories that happen each day – the ones that won’t be forgotten.
Choose to be thankful, and learn to be content.”
And, I’ll add – Don’t forget to breathe!