So, I’ve decided to make a New Year’s Resolution a bit early. I’ve decided that I’m going to “let myself off the hook,” and I’m not going to apologize or feel bad about it.
It started when a friend of mine from church suggested that a group of us read Jen Hatmaker’s latest book For The Love and meet together to discuss it. I had never heard of Jen Hatmaker (and let’s be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure that I would have a chance to read a book in my “spare” time), but I am all about having a few nights to hang out with just the girls, so I went. 🙂
Jen’s book is not a typical Christian living or self-help volume. It’s a very quick read, very conversational, and absolutely on-point. Right away in chapter one, she describes our daily multi-tasking struggle as a “balance beam,” and gives the reader permission to evaluate what is really important and remove some items from the beam. She also reminds us that we need to examine our lives in terms of the season we’re in, and understand that we may say “YES!” to certain things in some seasons and have to say “NO!” to them in others. I realized that I have been holding myself to some unrealistic expectations based on the season that my life used to be in, and I really need to re-evaluate and remove some items from my “beam.”
Case in point: My house used to be really clean. Every Saturday, I would spend a few hours vacuuming, scrubbing, and doing laundry, and that was pretty much sufficient until the following week. Now that I have a toddler, it is no longer that simple to keep my house clean. If you come over to visit on any given day, you will nearly trip when you enter the door because of the trucks/cars/trains scattered all over the floor, and you will perpetually find cracker crumbs in the couch cushions when you have a seat. And you know what? That is just the season of life I am in. One day, my house will be clean again. But for now, I have a choice. I can obsess over trying to keep things super clean, getting inordinately angry every time Jake touches the furniture with sticky hands or Justin sets down a drink without a coaster. –OR–I can RELAX, sit back, and enjoy spending time with my family, and NOT stress the small stuff.
I have been choosing the former for WAY too long. So now, I’m making a conscious decision to choose the latter.
The same goes for cooking. I have never really enjoyed cooking, but I still recognize it as being my job/chore, and I have dutifully made dinner for Justin just about every night for the last several years. Sometimes I would try to get really creative, joining recipe clubs and trying out meal plans to get new ideas and impress him at suppertime. And maybe I will still impress Justin on occasion, but now that I have a toddler (and a job), I need to recognize that I am in a different season, and dinner will not always be amazing. Sometimes dinner will be me dialing Papa John’s and ordering a pizza, or picking up Chinese on my way home. And that’s okay. Sometimes, when I come home and start getting pots and pans out of the cupboard, and Jake starts throwing a tantrum and trying to climb into his highchair because he’s hungry RIGHT NOW, throwing together a quick Hamburger Helper or heating a frozen meal is just the best option. And I need to be able to forgive myself for it and stop expecting to be a super mom, super teacher, super wife, super homemaker, and super gourmet chef all day every day. It’s just an impossible standard.
My first concern with taking things off the beam was, “What about other people? I have a friend who is a mom with a kid the same age as me, and she is doing x,y, and z!” Another thing that Jen addresses in her book is the idea that we need to stop looking to the right and the left and comparing ourselves with other people. Let that person live their life, and you live your own life–no apologies! I also thought, “Right! Easier said than done.” But surprisingly, it was simple. It’s just a frame of mind that I have to take on and stick with. Every day something new will come up–some plan or to-do list that I had started formulating in my mind that I begin to realize is a bit too packed. And when I realize that, I have to remind myself, ‘This is my season.” And I take things off the list–and I don’t feel bad about it! It could be that I planned to write a blog post (and I really did plan to write a second post about Chicago and my friend’s wedding, and I even planned one about Thanksgiving), and something happens. Jake doesn’t feel well and he wants me to snuggle him all night. I feel tired at the end of the day from being a mom/teacher/pregnant wife and my eyes start closing while my fingers are still on the keyboard. It’s okay! I HAVE to let myself off the hook for those things, and I don’t need to feel bad or feel like I’ve failed.
A couple of weeks ago, Jake was really sick (double ear infection), and I ended up staying home from work to be with him. At the same time, I felt really bad about skipping out on work (which I had done a lot recently, due to OB-GYN doctor’s appointments, my friend’s wedding in Chicago, etc.). I felt like I was letting everyone down. Oh my goodness, I think I even convinced myself that my class simply could not go on without me that day–I was ruining EVERYTHING and disappointing EVERYONE! As it turned out, everyone was fine without me. Things went smoothly with the substitute teacher. And no one was disappointed with me in the least. Everyone understood (probably better than I did), that having a little one at home is just my season right now, and I have to put Jakey first. In fact, many of my students sent me sweet messages and emails during the day, telling me that they were praying for Jake to feel better soon. Why did I beat myself up over it, when no one else was?
That’s when Jen Hatmaker’s book really started to sink in, and I decided:
I’m not going to feel guilty about “saying no” anymore. I’m not going to beat myself up over removing things from my “beam.”
And you guys, I have felt so much peace because of this! I’m not sure why I didn’t do it sooner!
What about you? Is there anything that you need to take off of your “beam”?