This week is a busy one, where the demands on time, energy and attention seem unreasonable. There are anniversaries, holidays off, field trips, school presentations, moving, baseball games, yard sales, and any number of the routine responsibilities that populate weekly to-do lists.
This is the kind of week where I’ll end up exhausted and irritable, and by the end of the week, the voices in my head will begin the familiar chorus of ‘should’s and inadequacies, the ‘not good enough’s. Sometimes, I’ll get the selfish buzzing of pride where the noise in my head is simultaneously inflated because I’m sooooo important the world couldn’t continue without me and frustrated because the world can’t continue without me, angry that I have to do everything. Both of these are terribly misguided and idolatrous, yet they come just the same.
I see this coming (because it always comes,) so the only question is, Now what?
It often seems like that is the only question. We learn something new, now what? We find a different side of an argument, now what? Our circumstances change, now what?
I don’t want that entire 2nd paragraph, so now what?????
There isn’t really much I can do about the 1st paragraph… Well, I guess I could. I could not go to school to see my boy present his book buffet project, not chaperone the Kenbrook field trip, not coach baseball, not whatever. Probably a lot of the stress that produces our fear and anxiety is directly related to the feeling that we are totally out of control, that someone else is pulling our strings, that we are powerless. But that’s simply not true, usually. (But that is a conversation for another day.)
The truth is, I don’t want to do anything about the 1st paragraph.
But how can I avoid the 2nd, how can I change my response?
The answer is ‘putting God first’ and ‘letting go and letting God,’ obviously. But no one knows what they mean, (and again,) now what? Yesterday in the message we spoke about learning spiritual truths through everyday practices.
Putting God first will nip that gross impulse to think I am the one in charge, with all the pressure stemming from the demands of being good, and being god. How do I do that? Read the Scriptures (Genesis 1 is a very nice place to start – the world was created by Him, His words, and Colossians 1:15-20). Of course, I would say the Scriptures, and the reason I would is because it’s the right thing to do. Not that I always do – sadly, I don’t always do the things I want to and instead do the things I don’t want to. (I think I read that somewhere…) But it is the right thing to do and the best way to ‘put God first.’ Before the gym, before the People’s Court, before Facebook, read Genesis 1. I also have this devotional on my phone that can point me towards the light when it gets too dark (if I let it.) This will also help to combat the onslaught of negative thoughts and unhealthy self-talk: if I know who, and Whose, I am, free of expectation and obligation.
As for the exhaustion and irritability, ‘let go and let God,’ even though I still don’t know what that means. But I now have a better idea than I had yesterday. Today, I think it’s gratitude, being fully present and awake to the reality of the blessings that not everyone gets that I wished my whole life for but way too often take for granted as they are happening, getting great sleep and finding rest whenever I can, taking off my shoes and walking in the grass, but the ABSOLUTE MOST IMPORTANT thing I must do is breathing. Not the mindless kind that I mostly do, but the kind where I count and my belly moves as I inhale and exhale. It works as a slow motion button on the world and especially me, because the real problem isn’t necessarily the schedule, it’s my posture of hurried distraction. I don’t notice anything, don’t see you or the shine or sadness in your eyes, don’t listen to all of the communication in between words, miss the breeze on my face and the melody of the song and of my life.
Just breathe. Breathe myself into consciousness.
At the end of this week (and every week,) the point is to not wake up and say, “God was in this place and I did not know.” I’ll let you know how it goes…