We've been doing a study on Philippians in my Small Group and the past few weeks have been eating away at me. And it's not the first time that these things have shoved their way to the front of my mind, waving and screeching, "Look at me! Look at me!" I need to pay attention. I need to be decisive.
With a little boy at home who is daily becoming more and more bright and aware (despite the fact that he will not do it when his Dad is around, he does look for our dog when I ask him where Ruger is) it is even more convicting to put "the first things first". But it's so easy to get distracted. Just this morning I even said to Joel, "Now we need to pray before your breakfast." and what happened? By the time I got him settled in his chair and he started wildly kicking his legs in anticipation for his oatmeal and mangos, I went straight to feeding his little face and forgot my goal of less than five minutes earlier. We did, however, redeem the time by talking about God and how He made us for His glory (yay for my early catechism instruction as a kid) and we did thank God for mangos and oatmeal, even if we didn't bow our heads and hold hands.
The past few studies from Small Group have involved talk about what is "rubbish" in our life and what are the things that are not necessarily sin that cling to us, slow us down, distract us from genuinely pursuing God. I was reminded of this, again this morning when I was checking Facebook and author, Shauna Niequist's status read: "A lot of the most important things in life don't happen online. Hug people tightly. Look them in the eye. Be present. Live well today."
As my pastor is fond of saying: "Amen belongs right there."
My husband and I talk a lot about what things are important and how to balance the gifts God has given with living intentionally and not wasting the time we are given. I don't think there is anything wrong with watching football. I don't think there is anything wrong with sharing pictures and life on social networking sites. I believe in the power and authenticity of a blog. I love email. I get a kick out of new music and blaring my iPod Shuffle as loud as my ears can reasonably handle. I enjoy trying new foods and visiting new places and holing up in my room or on the couch with chai and a book or a journal or my Mac.
I don't believe it's a sin to enjoy the blessings God has given us. It is true that there is "nothing new under the sun" and most everything is, in essence, "meaningless". But it seems that because of this pointlessness, that it makes even more sense to enjoy what is good. What we have been given:
"So I decided there is nothing better
than to enjoy food and drink and
to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized
that these pleasures are from the hand of God.
For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from Him?"
~ Ecclesiastes 2:24, NIV
The next chapter states similarly:
"He has made everything beautiful
in its time. He has also set eternity in
the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom
what God has done from beginning to end.
I know that there is nothing better for me
than to be happy and do good while they live.
That everyone may eat and drink, and find
satisfaction in all his toil ~ this is the gift of God."
~ Ecclesiastes 3:11-13, NIV
God has given us things in life that are enjoyable and they are enjoyable because God gave them to us. The Bible talks about children being a gift and about enjoying "the wife of your youth". I think sometimes the messages (well-meaning, all) we receive in Sunday School can be a bit daunting. We did a study once by a well-known pastor and inevitably you left every week feeling like absolute crud. Not because you were convicted, but because you felt like you had just received a beating. That if you found joy in anything other than the Scripture between your hands and if you ever did anything other than kneel and pray, then you were missing the boat. This same pastor would talk about giving away all that you had, and yet in video segments his kids would be playing on laptops, or a Wii gaming system on their massive plasma television screen. Huh?
I know I talk a lot about boundaries (or feel that I do), but they are so important and there's a need for them, for different types, everywhere! Not only do I need boundaries for my
relationships and boundaries for my son and boundaries for what we do or do not get involved in - but I need boundaries on my words. Boundaries on my thoughts. Boundaries on my time. And even though I don't always want to talk or think about setting restrictions on myself, it's necessary. Very necessary. Why?
Because it's all rubbish.
In essence, Facebook and blogging are not important. There are many people I talk to frequently that I have never met and may never meet on this side of Glory. But in my house, there is also a little person who is wide eyed and daily picking up on more and more. Not only is my job to be a mother, but also a wife. And that means more than just having dinner on the table when he walks in the door. But beyond my daily responsibilities or my "roles" in life, I am, above all, a follower of Christ. But what does that mean? How does that manifest itself in my life?
I have to make time. I have to decide what I need to fulfill or become more of who God is calling me to be. Outside of being Aaron's wife and Laura, the mother of Joel, I am God's. I am in a relationship with the Almighty. How am I spending time with Him? When am I talking? When am I listening? Where am I studying, praying, applying?
I need boundaries. I need to make better choices. I need to not be mindless about the down time I am given when the baby is finally down for a nap. Over the past few days I've really tried to make some lists concerning the different areas in my life (body, mind, spirit, etc.) and what I need in those areas. What are my passions? What are my gifts? What are my callings?
Will I be a better me if I workout every day? You betcha. Will I be more calm and focused if I read my Bible and listen to Christian radio? For sure. Will I benefit from getting involved in my church and throwing myself headlong into making friends? No doubt about it. It's not easy. It's much easier to stay in my house, watch re-runs of "Grey's Anatomy" (which, admittedly, there are days that I do) and waste time online.
But I don't want what is easy. I want what is noble and right. I want what is worthy. I want what matters. Even though it feels like we're going to live forever, we aren't. Even though it feels as if the days just go on and on without end, they don't. There will be an ending. I heard a quote on Christian radio a week or so ago during a discussion on parenting about how the days seem to last forever, but the years go fast. It's so true. I feel like every day is so long and so full. But then when I look back on the past 6 months of Joel's life.... where did it go?! When did he stop being a newborn? He's sitting up, now. He eats "big boy" food. It went by fast. It's still going by fast.
I want to be intentional. I want to be redemptive about the time that I use and the people I spend time with. I don't want to expend the majority of my energy and purpose on pointless pursuits. I believe caring for my home, cleaning, laundry, etc. is important to the well being and harmony of my family. I believe teaching my son shapes, colors and about the Trinity is imperative. I believe I'm a better me if I get time to workout, time to be creative (blogging, writing music, etc.) and that I benefit from being involved and loving on and being loved by the Christian community God has set me in.
What matters? What is its benefit? Evaluate, make a list and take the trash out.
"Gonna hold who needs holdin'
Mend what needs mendin'
Walk what needs walkin'
Though it means an extra mile
Pray what needs prayin'
Say what needs sayin'
Cause we're only here for
a little while."
~ Billy Dean