In January, I started a sixteen-week commitment that was the wrong thing to do. The spring has been stressful, because I have been giving time, energy, and mental bandwidth to something that wasn’t right for me. I did my best, fulfilled my commitment, and I am now four weeks from the end. The tunnel ahead has light. The future is almost here.
With more free time in my near future, I’m able to think about what I want next. I want to finish decluttering my house, faster than I’m doing it now. I’m a potter who hasn’t touched clay in three months, so maybe I can do some creating. I’m a writer who’s been slow to accomplish anything this year, and I want to write more. I can whittle down the pile of good books I want to read. Spend time with relationships that need attention. Renew my commitment to exercise and take care of my body.
This week I wrote a blog post about anxiety and self care. Then I hit a wrong button and sent it out early, so it might not have been read. Who wants to read two posts in one day? The gist of that post was the question of whether or not someone can plan life around anxiety, depression, other mental/medical issues. I struggle with type one diabetes and feel no guilt when I take care of myself. But the anxiety that plagues me–I feel like I’m supposed to ignore it, not make decisions or plans with that struggle in mind. It’s a question I haven’t entirely answered yet. God and I are still working on that one.
Enter the idea of simplicity. The idea that it’s okay to whittle my life down to things that truly matter to me. That God might ask me to do things for which he has gifted me, not just things that are hard. Maybe it’s okay to clear my life, schedule, mental bandwidth and then fill it all back up with better things. Things that reflect the skills, passions, and experiences God has given me.
Until now, I thought that I had to do what was expected. I had to volunteer and accept everything that came along, everything that was good. Even if it was hard, even if it brought a lot of distress, I said yes. Sometimes because it was hard I thought I had to do it, to prove I wasn’t letting anxiety–or any other weaknesses–plan my life.
Recently, I feel like I can say no to good and wait for better, look for Best. God is calling me to write and share my books. He’s calling me to tend a few precious friendships. Maybe to share my knowledge/experience through a small group study. Pour my life into a few souls. Pray with others. Delve deeper into God’s heart through his Word. I think it might be time to look at both my strengths and weaknesses when making plans. Maybe weaknesses are planned by God to help me on my way, to point me in certain directions. He will use them, but I thought that meant he wanted me to ignore them and move on. Maybe, as long as I don’t use them as an excuse to sin, I can let them help me determine the paths he has for me.
The writer of Hebrews says in chapter 13: And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. I find myself wondering if sometimes my weaknesses help mark the edge of that path. Maybe they can be a guide as much as my strengths and skills. Sure, God asks us to do hard things. But where did I get the idea that everything has to be hard? That God asks me only to do things that hurt? That something that makes me feel good about the person God made me is wrong? Sure, my passions can take me to uncomfortable places. But when I let things that aren’t that important take me there… Maybe I don’t have to do that just to prove I’m bigger than the self God made me to be.
I recently set up a home gym in the room that was a disaster, and I’m using it to care for my body. That was a victory. I’m clearing out belongings that should have left my house years ago because I’m learning that my things aren’t part of my identity. I stepped onto the path of simplicity for physical reasons, because I was sick of clutter and ugliness in my home. I had no idea it would spread so far and touch all of my life. Time, identity, rest, self care, growth…
Just a few thoughts. In four weeks, I feel like I’m getting a second chance to put some priorities in order. I’ve spent enough time talking to the Spirit this year that I’m confident he will help me plan my summer, my fall, whatever he wants me to plan. I hope I am more open to hearing him, following him, trusting him. I can set things free, simplify my world, and see what amazing things God wants to do through me.
Four more weeks.