Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Doing is not the Sole Reason for Being.

Almost every day, I feel like I'm running late. Even on days when I'm not working, and have no place I need to be, I feel like I'm engaged in a constant battle against time. It's a race to get the laundry done before we run out of clothes, the groceries bought before we run out of food. The pressure's on to get the kitchen cleaned and dishes washed before the next meal, or the kids out in the garden for some fresh air before it starts raining.

Most days don't even feel intentional, it's simply a blind lumbering from one task to the other. A Martha existence, not a Mary one. For the record, I think Martha gets a bad rap. I can completely understand reaching the stage where you think that doing is the only reason for your being. 

I'm trying to let go, but I feel so apologetic all the time. I'm sorry that sometimes I need to clean the bathroom instead of play with the kids, but conversely, I'd feel guilty if I played (or read, or sang to them) too much, and the house was a mess. I feel guilty about how much I enjoy the peace of my 2 days at work, and more guilty at the thought that as a part time worker, I'm naturally not pulling the same weight as my full-time colleagues.

I find 'just being' immensely stressful. Maybe it's a lack of trust, or innate, deep-rooted control freakery. Even as a child, in swimming lessons, I could never learn to float. The thought of aimlessly drifting, not knowing where I was going, and not being able to see something I might bump into unnerved to the point where I was so tense, I sank like a stone.

God has blessed me with a good life. A loving husband, wonderful (if sometimes exasperating) children, a caring family and friends. Taking time to Just Be helps me to see my blessings. Busy-ness can build bitterness, because it's so easy to fall into the trap of thinking kids are being awkward to stop you from getting things done; or that your spouse is deliberately making more work, by using an extra dish, or not putting laundry in the hamper. Or that they don't do as much as you, or don't appreciate what you do.

My prayer is to learn to let go. To enjoy the quiet, restful moments without guilt, and to seek God in those moments. Sometimes, I don't hear the 'still, small voice' over the whirl of the spin cycle, or the rattling of the pots and pans.

Being allows you to take joy in the moment, it allows you to see the God-given beauty and worth in others. Stopping, just for a moment, in the midst of activity helps you see that God has bigger plans for you than busy-ness. God does not stop our breathing and still our hearts when we stop being busy. His plans' involve much more. Doing is not the sole reason for being.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Softly Does It

Lately, I'm ashamed to say, I've been letting exasperation, impatience, and selfishness get the better of me. I've yelled at the kids, and much more often than I should. My husband got quite upset with me (rightly so) and pointed out that me yelling wasn't achieving anything.

And he's right, when yelling becomes habitual, it's never going to be effective, and I had reached a horrible state where my knee-jerk response to fighting, tantrum throwing, or disobedience, was to yell.

It achieved NOTHING. 9 times out of 10, the kids would continue what they were doing, or they would become even more upset, and I would feel terrible. The horrible, shouty mother.

So, I decided to try an experiment. I started biting my tongue, and not yelling. I started talking overall in a much softer, calmer voice, ESPECIALLY when the kids are throwing a tantrum or doing something they shouldn't. I started asking nicely, instead of commanding. To my amazement, it's working. If I speak softly, and ask them 'please close that cupboard, darling', they're far more likely to do it with a smile, than if I yelled 'Close that cupboard now!' If I hold them, and rock them, and shush them during a crying fit or temper tantrum, it soothes them. Impatience and yelling were never going to do that. I'm not saying that my kids have suddenly turned into angels, or that I've suddenly became Caroline Ingalls, but I'm calmer, the kids are calmer, and exhibiting more and more in the way of good behaviour, and our home is generally a nicer place to be.

St Francis de Sales was right - honey will always win over vinegar.