No one in their right mind would ever look at my life from the outside and call it “simple”. A blended family, complete with all the difficult and intricate relationships that come with it, and the crazy schedules of who’s staying where and for how long, can make life seem pretty complicated. Throw in some football practices, band rehearsals, and a new job teaching preschool 3 days a week, and it starts to look downright unmanageable! I’ve never been good at “doing-it-all”. I’m not a great multi-tasker, don’t work well under pressure, and really have an aversion to structure and rigid routines. My mom would say that is what makes me fun, but honestly these days I’d say it’s what makes me nuts! Navigating these wild days is a learning experience to say the least.
I find myself growing weary, feeling overwhelmed, and battling impatience… Not just with the kids, but with myself! Thinking always that I should be able to handle it all with more grace, that I should be able to cheerfully serve the ones I love without this edge. That it is too much because I am not enough. Not strong enough, not organized enough, not disciplined enough… You get the picture. I have written about this very thing before, and probably will again, because it is my battleground for now. God is teaching me so much in this, but the lessons are hard, and I’m not always the best student! My heart’s desire is to give my best to my husband and children, to fill our home with love and grace and peace, and allowing God to smooth out my rough edges is the only way, painful though it may be.
Keeping things simple is a challenge for every mom, regardless of family type. And just like every other area of life that I desire change, the change must always begin with me. And God is faithfully revealing areas of my heart and life that need to be simplified. I wish I could say that I welcome the change, but I always resist. So comfortable in my chaos that I say, “I’m fine. My way is fine. I’m fine with my crazy circus life.” But I’m not! I am SO not fine. (Ask my husband! He might be the most long-suffering man alive. And I am so very thankful for his patience with me.) The first step to simple: Coming to the end of myself, and “my way”, and consequently, to the end of my proverbial rope! This is the only place that God works. At the end of ME.
The second step to simple is a big one. It sounds easy, but has truly been one of the hardest things for me to do. Step two is to Slow Down. When I hurry, I fuel the impatient nature of my heart. One of my favorite quotes is from Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts. She says, “Life is not an emergency. Life is brief and it is fleeting but it is not an emergency.” I repeat this to myself many times a day, when the heart races, and the clock even faster. To slow down, to be present in this very moment, not racing ahead to the next thing, is the key to calm. And calm is simple. And this is what I want. Sometimes I have to say it out loud, “Slow down. Hurry hurts.” (Or sometimes sing to myself, “I can go slow, I can go slow” like on the kids’ cd we listen to at preschool, though I don’t recommend doing this in public unless you are ok with some strange glances…)
And step three is as far as I’ve gotten on this path to Simple. It is my favorite, because it has the power to take any moment and transform it immediately. Step three: to Give Thanks. Hudson, my two year old, is a constant reminder to me to be thankful. He walks around singing “God our Father, God our Father, we give thanks, we give thanks” all the time. And this is not the generic “thank you for all my blessings” kind of thanks. I mean moment by moment, actively looking for gifts to be thankful for, even in the midst of the mess kind of thanks. Another favorite quote from 1000 Gifts, “Thanksgiving creates abundance; and the miracle of multiplying happens when I give thanks–taking the just one loaf, say it is enough, and give thanks–and He miraculously makes it more than enough.” Being thankful for what He gives each moment is the key to having enough, to being enough. And isn’t that what my heart desires? To have enough? To be enough? Isn’t all of life simpler when we feel we have adequate resources to fulfill our God-given roles? Thanksgiving keeps life simple and free from striving for more.
In a season of chaos, the search for simple requires some effort… But it is there waiting to be found. And even this tired mommy can remember 3 things… Come to the end of Me, Slow Down, and Give Thanks. Simplicity isn’t the impossible dream. It isn’t some idyllic moment in the past that you wish you could go back to. It isn’t some future reality where all your problems are solved. It is here and now. We just have to choose it. It is always a choice isn’t it? How we respond to life and what it throws at us… Praying for the Grace to search for and choose the simple, even in the midst of the chaos.