Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Trouble with Truth

Sometimes a conversation starts and you think you know where it is going, and then it surprises you and takes a turn you did not expect...  I had one of those this morning.  I was flipping through a magazine I recently subscribed to while sitting at the kitchen table having coffee and chatting with my husband.  I was reading him snippets of articles that were interesting... All written by mothers and wives seeking to be women of virtue, and I came across that dreaded word you don't hear so much in association with marriage these days..."obey".  I turned the page and said something to the effect of "what an old fashioned chauvinistic way of thinking".  And my sweet and wise husband who normally would not plunge into these deep waters without first thinking said, "But look how happy they are.  Look at their families, how simply they live.  I'm no chauvinist, but there is something to be said for those 'old fashioned' values."  Whoa. I was NOT expecting that.

So I took a deep breath and tentatively stepped into the water with him.  I asked him to elaborate.  He said he felt our family had no clear leader... That maybe I (really? me?) was not really willing to submit to anyone else's authority.  And I said, "so you are saying I am not a submissive wife?" (I think he may have held back a chuckle here, I can't be sure) Now, I should clarify that he was not suggesting that I not have an opinion, or a voice, or that I shouldn't have some authority in our home.. I knew exactly what he meant.  I did not have to think long before I saw the reason... It is impossible to be submissive and defensive at the same time.  And I am carrying some baggage that causes me to fear giving anyone else the ability to take advantage of me, fear that I will lose my voice, and ultimately myself (again) so I defend.  I stand tall and strong and pretend to be in charge.  And he lets me because he is gentle and patient, and to some degree understands the why behind it all.  I had fooled myself into thinking this was working for us until this morning.  I am thankful he was vulnerable enough to say what was in his heart, though it raised some questions I have turned over in my mind all day.

As I said, these are deep waters, and I am not really able to articulate all that is floating around in my head just yet... But I know that this is one area God and I will be doing some work on.  Or, I guess I should say, I will "submit" to whatever work God chooses to do in me.  (See?  I really do like to be in charge.)  I don't like the fact that God keeps holding up that mirror of truth and letting me see the ugliness still within, but at least in His mercy He usually just gives me one area at a time to deal with.  So, I guess this is "goodbye, control freak" and "hello sweet virtuous and lovely submissive wife".  Oh my. This will not be a quick fix, I fear!  But true beauty is never easy... It always starts on the inside, right?  Too bad there isn't a 7-day herbal cleanse for this kind of stuff!  I am very thankful God gave me ears to hear my husband's heart this morning. Now it is time to do something about it.  When I figure out what, exactly, I will probably write about that.  For now, I am just praying for a softer, more trusting heart and for the grace to grow into a wife that truly honors God.  A pretty good place to start, I think.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Gift of Now

Time to slow down.  That's been the message.... The soft whisper in my soul, the quiet words in my mind. And still I hurry.  I hurry to get kids fed and off to school, I hurry to get myself ready for the day, I hurry to load babies in carseats, I hurry to get home to start dinner and homework and snacks and laundry, I hurry to do the dishes and hurry kids off to bed.  And still He whispers, "Kari, slow down.  Take time to be present in these moments without looking to the next one." And I hear it, and I think that I will slow down, maybe just once I get the kitchen clean and the laundry put away.  How can  a mama slow down with so much to be done?

And that's when it hits.  Two little ones with stomach viruses. Everything else stops spinning and I focus on just these two pitiful ones.  I don't do dishes, I don't cook, I don't fold any clothes or put on any makeup.  I just hold them, wash their faces with a cool cloth, sit with them, sing to them... I send my regrets for parties and events on my calendar, and the to-do list gets lost in the pile of unopened mail on the table.  And the world doesn't crumble around me.  The house still stands, the children still get fed, and by some small miracle I regain some lost piece of myself in the not-doing.

Today is day 4 of the virus, which unfortunately has passed from little ones to Daddy.  And just today it occurred to me that it was all by design... That just maybe I was saying "no" to the one thing we all needed most.  It is hard to be fully present with so many things pulling me away, until I have no choice.  While I am not thankful that my family has been ill, I am very grateful that God has used this time to remind me that I don't have to do it all.  That He does not need me to run the world.  (Imagine that?)  That it is not only ok, but necessary to just be still sometimes.

For some weeks now, I have been in the process of evaluating my time and how I spend it, making changes to my schedule and obligations so that I can be here and available.  I am thankful for a God who calls me back to the now and shows me where I have overextended myself.  I don't want my legacy to be "She washed a lot of dishes and ran a lot of errands."  I want to give them more of myself than what's leftover after all the menial and mundane tasks are checked off my list.  There will always be more laundry to fold and more dishes to wash. But there won't always be kids sitting at my table doing homework, or babies to read to.  If I'm not careful and intentional, I might miss it.  And to miss it for something so meaningless as an empty sink would be a tragedy, indeed.

As my family is on the mend, I am praying for a fresh awareness of what's really important that will last into the coming days and weeks and months, that I won't forget next week when the pace of this season tries to sweep me away to just be present.  To be here, now.  Because now is a gift.

"Live wisely... and make the most of every opportunity."  Colossians 4:5