Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Mantra

There were bouts of it, certainly, over the years before, but it wasn't until 2004 that being overwhelmed with life unpacked its bags at my house and settled in for a long stay. Within a few months I had moved, given birth to child number 6, had major surgery, and waved goodbye to my husband as he left for 18 months of war in Iraq. The next few years would bring another surgery, two more moves (across country and back) and prolonged health issues, all with the stuff of daily life sprinkled generously on top.

I had short seasons here and there of feeling cuaght up and okay with where I was, but for the most part I viewed my life, myself, with disdain. "Why haven't you finished that?" "Why haven't you started that?" "You forgot to do that tradition!" " Look at the mess you've got in the file drawer and behind the stove!" "Why did you raise your voice, again, at the kids?" And all of it was said in sharp, belittling tones, with weariness lapping at the edges.

A brief background on me reveals this: I live by lists. I'm a perfectionist (by nature, not practice). I'm an "all or nothing" kind of gal. Undone stuff (and stuff done wrong) burdens me . . . in a really big way.

If and when I bemoaned my unfinished lists to my husband he reminded me that my life isn't about what's still on the list, but what never got written on the list in the first place, but still got done . . . like raising children, praising the Lord, and driving carpool.

And I know he's right. I know it in my head. In fact, I didn't even need him to tell me for me to know it. But in the end, my heart didn't agree. I felt conflicted by the "stuff" I believe to be important that I didn't have "done."

And then, not long ago, I went downstairs. In my arms I carried a few items to put away in our paritally finished basement and saw the trillions of other things that had been "put away" before, left in a haphazard pile (for when I have more time) or strung about by the kids (for when I have more energy). I dropped the stuff on the floor first, and then myself. Even my tears didn't beat the panic to the surface. I wanted it sorted and purged and cleaned . . . I wanted it done . . . I wanted it ALL done right then. I wanted my meals planned (for a month like I used to), our family service projects in progress, and the start-now-to-have-Christmas-finished-by-October on the spreadsheet. I wanted the flat stomach, the book manuscript complete, my family blog updated, the boxes of pictures put cutely in scrapbooks, the closets organzied, the sewing projects out of the bins, the bedroom walls painted, the family history work anywhere but the future, and my life in control!

I cried. I prayed. And the answer came. I heard it in my heart and repeated it aloud. Rhonda, you don't have to do it all . . . . you just have to do something. I reached out and began to pick up each piece of the colored construction paper, scattered on the dusty concrete floor, and collected them together into a tidy pile. I looked around and saw that by no means had I solved the problem, but that it was better . . . because I had done something.

I'm determined to keep doing something. And I'll write about it here, to keep me going.

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