I began writing another entry when I was struck that what it was really about was wasting time. When we pursue something that is more than we can handle, it is a blessing when God says simply "no". Sometimes that "no" looks like rejection. Sometimes it is simply a door that never opens.
Yesterday, I was sitting with another mom outside my daughter's ballet class talking about homeschooling and commitments. I have to admit this--at that moment I was having a great day and felt such peace about God helping me learn to cut things out and simplify. My husband's schedule has been crazy lately and instead of packing it fully like I have in the past, I chose to simplify and make our lives less stressful rather than more.
The beginning of her conversation began with her asking me how I seemed so calm and how I was able to juggle 3 young kids. I told her very humbly that I am in a good place right now. I was enjoying that moment in my life and the peace that God has given me amidst my husband's busy life. But, I said that very humbly as I explained to her that just the day before we'd gone on a field trip to Longwood Gardens. On the way home, we went for a free 45 minute tour of the Herr's Potato Chip factory (which was wonderful). We also needed to go buy grain. That was where it all started to break down. My younger two started getting a little more disobedient at the Amish store. Then, unfortunately, I made the choice (due to rising gas prices) to squeeze in one more errand. We made (what I thought was only going to be a half hour detour) to a store I'd been looking forward to visiting. It was a debacle! My choice... my poor choice led to 1 hour and 45 minutes of struggle. We only spent 20 disappointing minutes in the store, where I didn't find anything I was looking for, and then headed for home. As I drove home on Wednesday, I knew what I'd done wrong. My trip was fruitless. I had wasted time and stressed my kids (and myself!) out.
What should I have done? Not made that last errand. The visit to the Amish store wasn't great, but it was doable. The last errand, though, was over the top.
I don't think I'm alone in this. We look at our days and think to ourselves either "I can fit that in." or "I need to do this today." (when it's really a want, not a need) or "It will only take a minute."
Last week, I felt I needed to try and say "no" to myself more and "yes" to my family. I've done pretty well with cutting back on my computer time. But, I didn't do so well on Wednesday when I decided to make that one last errand. I know life is a work in progress. Sometimes we make the right choices and sometimes we don't.
I was just talking with a friend on the phone about our time. She reminded me of something she deeply appreciates about Wendell Berry's writings. She explained to me that he reminds her that she has a choice--she has a choice about what she is going to do. She isn't required to send an email. She can choose to send a written letter instead. I can choose to grow a garden and spend time outside each day. Or I can choose to stay inside and do my vegetable picking at the store. Both are viable options. But, one involves more life. One is more active. One will give me more satisfaction. The other will not.
Sometimes it's hard seeing ahead of time what is going to be a waste of our time. I think that making a checklist for our day can be helpful to setting priorities. Something else that I really need to do is to allow more time for an activity--rather than less when I am planning out our day. Invariably, I am rushing the kids out the door as we try to make it to an activity "just in time" and not be late.
Today, I probably shouldn't have spent my afternoon the way I did. I have spent far too long on this computer and on the internet. So, it is time for me to get off.