Friday, November 17, 2017

Aspire to breathe

“I’m good, just busy, you know how it is.”

Yes, I know how it is. The never-ending rush from this thing to the next.  
It’s letting your house go and eating fast food and never stopping to take a breath or read a book so you can keep everyone moving, moving, moving. It’s the American way. Everybody’s doing it.  It’s feeling powerless, like someone else is filling up your calendar.  It’s never going to stop; we will never feel caught up.

Is this how it has to be?  What are we chasing after?
Our culture expects us to plan and schedule Important Things for every waking hour, for ourselves and for our children. But should we?

Imagine for a moment that your “How are you?” and was met not with the usual line about busy-but-good,
But something else, something like:

“I whittled down what’s on my schedule and suddenly I feel like I can breathe again. I have.. Free time. It’s wonderful.”

How would you react if you heard that? I posed this question to a group of women and they replied:

“I think I’d feel jealous.”
“I’d want to know their secret.”
“If I said that, someone would just say to me ‘Oh great, we’ve been looking for volunteers for ____.’”
“I wouldn’t know what to say.”

It is really that weird.  We’d hardly know what to say if someone told us they were NOT busy and had space in their schedule and lives. WHY is it this way, everybody? It has not always been this way in the history of the world. And I’m not convinced it HAS to be, even now.  Consider this with me: could it be that the pace of our lives is suffocating us?

My husband and I have begun to ask this question: Is the benefit of this commitment worth the busyness we feel as a family?  (Or in other words, why are we doing this to ourselves again?)
If we cannot come up with a good enough answer to this question, that’s it. We quit. It’s off the list.

It helps that we have so many children. We learned early on that if we say “yes” to every good thing offered to each child we will be running in too many different directions and the whole thing will come crashing down. We also realize that a “yes” to one thing necessarily means a “no” to something else.  Is that “something else” important? This question must be asked. It is important to receive God’s Word together.  Isn’t it also important to play outside, eat together, interact as a family, and have unstructured time to breathe and imagine and rest?

Imagine a world where we said more things like this:
“I just sat with my kids and enjoyed them today. We didn’t accomplish anything- we were just together.”

What are you doing this weekend?
“We’re sharing a meal with some friends and just spending time together.”
“I don’t know what I’m doing this weekend- there’s nothing scheduled!”
“Nothing much: Breathing in. Receiving from God. Feeding my spirit and resting my body.”

I’m not advocating laziness, but rather, discernment. If I let the expectations of others or the world fill my calendar, it might be full of fun experiences, and I will definitely be busy, but I will almost certainly be neglecting the things that matter.

I’ve been pondering this Scripture:
Love your neighbor and aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands… 2 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Did you catch that? Aspire to live quietly. ASPIRE to live quietly!
Love your neighbor, work with your hands, and live quietly, waiting with joyful expectation for the coming of the Lord.  Receive from your God and live.

It is by the grace of God alone that we are here with beating hearts and breathing lungs.  His grace has called us into fellowship with Him, we are to be set-apart, and to grow in His word.

We pray often that God helps us grow ”in faith towards you and in fervent love towards one another.”
How does He give that help? He feeds our faith with His Word. He teaches us to love by drawing us into community where we spend actual time together, sharing meals and lives together.  These things take time. But do we have the time?

“Aspire to live quietly.” I hear this as an invitation, permission to say no to the things that choke out what matters. Nobody is going to say no for me.

But what does saying yes to this invitation actually look like?  This is something I am really wrestling with, friends. How do we keep the busyness from crowding out what matters?  Share your thoughts with me, please!

Father,
This is a day that You have made- help us rejoice and be glad in it!  May we aspire to receive your good gifts and make good use of the time you have given us here. Grant us wisdom in what we say “yes” to, knowing that every “yes” is a “no” to something else. Help us not get distracted by mindless busyness, but instead say “yes” to those things that are good for our souls and our neighbor, and live confidently and peacefully in your grace. In the name of Jesus, Amen.



4 comments:

  1. Thank you. I also think it's an attitude thing. There's a difference between, “We’re sharing a meal with some friends and just spending time together” and "We're having company over so we need to clean the house and make some spectacular food." Also, "We have to go to a soccer game" and "We get to watch Child play soccer."

    I'm at the stage where I struggle to do all the diaper changes, food for little ones, and laundry plus homeschool for 5, so I'm used to saying, "No." I just have to because I personally can't mage too much more. That doesn't mean I have time to live quietly. (sigh)

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    1. I think about these things too- I don't think the "quiet" I am longing for means myself in a room with a book for days on end (though an hour or two of that would be nice.) I have six kids also and there is NO lifestyle strategy that means audible quiet unless we send them all to their rooms until they grow up! Maybe quiet living has more to to with attitude, like you said... a narrower focus, simpler goals? Instead of trying to do all the good things, doing the most important ones well and letting the others go? (like you with homeschooling?)

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    2. And i was just thinking along the same lines as you with hosting someone over for dinner- I love your approach. Keep focus on time spend together, not trying to show a perfect house or family. In that spirit, I'm going to make a simple meal and not angry-clean beforehand :)

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  2. Thanks for this post. What a wonderful verse! It says exactly what I've been wanting my life to imitate for years now. For me life is not so much 'unquieted' by business in our family schedule as it is in my spirit. For me social media (Facebook really) brings good but also so much needless turmoil and anxiety. News of horrors around our country and world. All these things add to my fears and take my eyes off of God's goodness. I feel a longing to retreat. So what stands out in that verse to me is also the "mind your own affairs!" To love and tend my own family and please my husband, and forget what others think or post to FB. To do as Paul says: "aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands." What a good and worthy goal.

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