I’ve been learning two things that may sound like opposite concepts but can both be applied simultaneously.
It’s OK to do things that feel a little crazy, that seem too hard, too big, too complicated.
Living an ordinary, unbusy, unhurried life is OK too. It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.
(a la J.R.R. Tolkien)
Let me share with you how I’ve been learning the first concept.
I had fallen into a comfort zone. There were challenges but I was still in control. There were things I didn’t like but they wouldn’t last long. We were figuring out a few things about our life in Baltimore and Josh’s new, fantastic job but living comfortably.
Then God showed us the exit from our comfort zone–an exit from my pleasant, uncomplicated job, from my hubby’s fun, high-paying workplace, from just being regular church members who served and loved their church. And after much prayer and discussion and counsel and lots more prayer, we took the exit.
Even though we were so thrilled for this new opportunity, we knew there would be challenges. And even though we knew there would be challenges, we didn’t know what kind of challenges.
I am teaching private music lessons now. I never thought I would get to do that again, and definitely didn’t think I would ever do it as part of a Christian school. But here I am. It is tough sometimes. Figuring out how to convey music theory and sight-reading to kiddos is overwhelming.
My students are amazing. They make me laugh and I love seeing their enthusiasm for music and learning. I am so grateful for this opportunity! But sometimes I feel under-qualified. Surely someone else would’ve done better. I’m just me.
God has been teaching me – reminding me, because I have learned this before – that in my weakness and overwhelmed-ness, He makes me strong. He reminds me that no, I can’t do this on my own. I will fall, I do collapse under the pressure, I can barely even function. I need Him.
This has been happening in areas other than teaching. Often I have to fight to be thankful for whatever scary opportunity I’m presented with. But the Lord is growing me and teaching me that it’s OK to do things that feel out-of-the-box for me or scare me.
John Piper said, “If you are sufficient for your task, it’s too small.”
I hope that as I do things only by the power of God, He will become bigger and I become smaller.
But what about living quietly? How can you both live ordinarily and do things that scare you?
When I’ve finally mastered this, I’ll let you know. But I can say that as I face challenges and do things that are sometimes terrifying, I am creating a space (both physical space and schedule space) to slow down. The other day I was going on and on about things I needed to get done; and my husband just came over to me, took whatever I was working on out of my hands, and pulled me out onto our back porch. We sat down and just breathed. It was such a small, simple act but it changed the course of my evening. My attitude was improved and my head was clearer. The things that had seemed urgent really were not.
I don’t want to live my life like it’s an emergency. It’s really not.
Yes, make the most of every day. Yes, don’t waste time. Yes, life is short. But some of the smallest, simplest moments of your day or week are the ones that will impact you more than the big accomplishments or grandiose plans.
I’m trying to notice these moments more. This past week was very full. Full of activities, church events, connecting with people, and adjustments at work. I accomplished many things and the week flew by. But this evening Joshua and I carried two stacks of empty pizza boxes from one end of the church campus to the other. The sun was shining, it was very brisk outside, and we hadn’t had any time just the two of us since early that morning. I looked at him, his sweet bearded face behind a stack of boxes, as we walked under the crosswalk and tried to lock that moment in my mind.
Slowing down and being intentional is not easy. Rushing through life and not stopping to take a breath or question “Is this truly important?” or listen to someone’s story or a child tell you for the 400th time that they think their mom has signed them up for piano lessons and they are upset that I don’t come get them from class for lessons. . . it’s easier to just shove forward numbly. But amidst the challenges, being way outside of my comfort zone, and trying to get a grip on our new schedule, I want to make space for quiet moments. I don’t want to only read books for school. I don’t want to fly through my day and not stop to actually look people in the eye when talking to them. I want my evenings (however dark they are now *sigh*) to be filled with warmth and rest and good books and tea that I let steep too long and the knowledge that the day is done and there is nothing I can change about it!
So there is the update, folks. Let’s grow together in both overcoming fears, and knowing when to slow down for a breather.