I was lying on our bed this evening, cooling off after supper in the relative quiet of the upstairs, out of earshot of my two dishwashers pretending to be a rather chatty Mary & Laura Ingalls, waiting for my Farmer to emerge from a post-work, pre-board-meeting shower, thinking restless and unhappy thoughts.
I usually fill the gaps in my day, I realized, cramming them full of facebook and email and virtual community, stuffing my brain with Christian how-to books, or even the Bible. As I lay there, waiting, gaps wide open for once, all this agitated discontent began oozing out from where I had pushed it beneath the surface.
I'm still hungry, but nothing appeals to me, I thought. I've got no motivation, and nothing I want to do anyway. I'm wasting my life. I could almost hear the subliminal whining: "I'm booooored."
I don't know what's expected of me, exactly, but I'm pretty sure I'm not measuring up.
Did I do enough today? I saw the optometrist this morning, meted out chores & played trains, listened to a sermon and a TED talk, baked cornbread (from scratch, because boxes don't get points, do they?), cleaned out the inbox, weeded a couple of flowerbeds, mailed a package at the post office, baked tilapia & boiled green beans ..... is this enough? What's enough?
Does eating superfluous chocolate (and is there really any other kind?) cancel out the "from scratch" points? Does spending time on facebook delete my weeding points? How does it work? How will I know if I'm doing it right??
Granted, a coughing Lil' Snip has kept me from getting much sleep the past few nights. So my thinking might be the slightest bit warped.
But I'm lonely. Unsatisfied with how I've "turned out" so far. Aching to know that I matter, somewhere.
Awhile back I started a post I titled "DIY disease" in which I began to enumerate my many "from scratch" loves, from cooking to gardening to pottery. I love to create, so much so that it's often hard for me to purchase something because the idea of making it myself is so tantalizing .... !
And then, too, there's the "should" element: if I could make it myself .... then I should make it myself.
It was beginning to occur to me that my DIY fever didn't end with home decor and baked goods. It had become invasive, encroaching even into my spiritual life: It was crowding out grace.
I never finished that post. I didn't know how. There's been no neat ending in my life, and none in sight now. I re-read my own words on grace, and perfectionism, and I sigh and nod, and still haven't conquered it. Will I ever, this side of heaven?
So there's no growth chart for this, for these uncharted waters I swim through, no way to measure my progress. I grew up on grades and "good job" and I don't know how to be enough, just being loved. (am I? I want to ask, am I?)
Other writers I love write of courage and positive action (showing up, doing the next right thing) and I despise my wallowing and still I wallow.
Where's the way out??
Just today, on facebook of all places, a friend reminded me of the words of one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, on writing out her God-gifts: "Because the picking up of a pen isn't painful and ink can be cheap medicine. And I just might live."
So there's the way out, or at least through, once again: to list them, all the day's joy-moments and eye-brighteners and spirit-lifters, to just write them all down after the post that doesn't end neatly no matter what, to just give thanks:
for healthy eyes, despite innocently overworn contacts
for my Farmer, who does know how to just be
for all those blue glass yardsale jars, washed so eagerly by Nice
for the wind outside, blowing my hair, cooling my skin
for the weeds, yanked out so cleanly and easily with
those colorful new gloves
for a simple supper we always love
for sisters happy to play with each other and Lil' Snip
for hope, somehow peeking through
for God, patient in His all-knowing
for those tiny kittens, handful of helpless fur
(and yes, for chocolate)
for you, who read my words and care enough to come back
for those I know who mourn, that it will be turned to joy (Lord, let it be soon)
for all the ways God speaks to me ...
in the creative process,
in His creation,
in His Word, and the words of His children
for air to breathe
for a wealth of flowers, His perennial gift to me
are a shield around me,
and the lifter of my head."