Isn’t it amazing how ‘driven‘ life can feel sometimes? I have been thinking about this…and trying to formulate a battle plan…quite a lot lately. Such an endeavor is no easy thing.
We live in a society…at least in America (apparently, based on this post I read, it’s not this way in the Netherlands!)…that feels like it is in OVERDRIVE all the time. (Caps for emphasis, because that is what my insides feel like most days!!)
We seem to be career driven, education driven, money driven, success driven…and we go, go, go and do, do, do.
Except…*deep sigh*… I really rather want to veer off the rat-race course. And I know I’m not the only one; I’ve certainly read enough blog posts about simplicity, minimalism and the like to recognize that. However, the reality is, apparently we are still in the vast minority, because the world around me continues to race on at a mind-dizzying (and soul-numbing) pace. And I become increasingly aware that, sadly, in all of this, God’s interaction with us…the wisdom and guidance from His Word and His Spirit …grow more and more faint, drowned out by all the other noise.
Even though I know this, I still battle. Can I be totally honest with you? The problem is, the thing that holds me back from taking the leap into the world of slow-paced simple-living, is that – honestly – I’m afraid. Not so much for myself, but for my kids. I’ve already beat myself up in the past over choices I’ve made for them (and to be honest, still do fret) that I’ve disadvantaged them by being too lax. I don’t want to make the wrong decision, leaving them ‘behind’ in some way. It’s a constant internal struggle to know when to push them, when to accept the competitive drive of the world around me and teach them to ‘keep up’, and alternately when to help them learn to pull back. It’s SO HARD to strike a balance between wanting to see them succeed, and yet just allowing them to be who they are and enjoy life without forcing them to be driven by all the messages the world around them is clamoring about.
But I also realize, if I want them to learn balance, I know I must first figure out some semblance of it myself.
I will confess right now – I don’t have a magic answer. So if you were skimming to find some grand revelation, I’m very sorry to disappoint. You can bail on reading this now if you like. All I have to offer is to share with you what I’m learning and doing to slowly sort out how to take control of my own internal turmoil, and thus, trying to find ways to help my children navigate the same. It’s all a work-in-process.
I will say this…I’m finding it rarely comes from an attempt at some one-fell-swoop, major life-overhaul. Which can be a bit of a relief. It’s not a mountain to be scaled, but rather, a path to be chosen. Daily.
It seems to be more about being in tune with myself, and staying connected and sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all the little, day-to-day situations. It seems to be about learning to acknowledge and trust my gut on the little things. Sorting out, one-by-one, when to give a “yes” or a “no”. And accepting that “no” is not only acceptable…but even beneficial.
Not that knowing this makes it any easier. (No one claims ‘simple’ means ‘easy’, right?) Saying no to the smallest things can sometimes still cause me to be wracked with guilt. Papers come home from school daily about every club, event, ‘special day’, sport and other activity known to humankind. I can barely keep up. I don’t even want to. I’ve pretty much gotten okay with accepting that this doesn’t make me a ‘bad’ parent (though occasionally I still battle that June Cleaver-ish, ‘perfect mom’ voice in my head). I am, however, realizing, the more I can be at peace with not putting every expectation in the world on my OWN shoulders, the more I can help my kids learn to navigate the barrage as well, in a way that equips them to make healthy choices for themselves.
I don’t have to DO IT ALL.
They don’t have to do it all.
Instead of looking at life’s ‘demands’, I’m trying to shift to seeing life’s ‘options’.
It’s like learning to approach life similarly to how I approach a buffet. I don’t have to eat every single food put out. Ironically, such an array of options never causes me stress. I am never wracked with guilt about passing on mushrooms or brussel sprouts or stewed tomatoes, because…eww. I don’t need to weigh and debate about their ‘goodness’ or nutritional value, or that they do in fact contain something beneficial to my health, so maybe I should, out of obligation, say yes. I simply don’t like them, therefore, I’ll choose to get my nutrients elsewhere.
Many life choices, really, are much the same. I don’t need to feel guilty (and neither do you!) over saying no to joining the PTA, not being a homeroom mom, or booster club member. Last year I felt great about saying yes to helping administer weekly spelling tests in my son’s classroom. This year, it’s a different season for our family, and I’m not making the same level of commitments there that I did in the past. And I’m confident that is the best choice for our family for right now. Maybe next year will be a different story entirely.
Yes, I’ve definitely made progress is the area of ‘slacking’. (Said tongue-in-cheek of course. Saying no does NOT mean slacking!! Don’t you believe it for a minute!!) And especially when it comes to sifting through stuff on the elementary school level. Goodness, people…I seriously used to stress over every book fair, pajama day and holiday party. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve managed to parent one child successfully through graduation that has helped me to realize…and can I please share this nugget of truth with you…in the long run, some things JUST. DON’T. MATTER.
Seriously. Not in the least. Zero long-term effect, I promise.
This kid likes to do crazy-hair day? Great! Pink hair it is! That one doesn’t feel at all comfortable with wearing his Mario Bros. PJ’s for all to see? That’s cool, buddy. You don’t have to! (And to be honest with you, I don’t see the point either.) Really, I’ve becoming much more aware that’s it far more important to tune-in to each of my kids…their personalities, their needs, their talents…and just go with it. We don’t all, always, for every occasion have to be a ‘joiner’. Sometimes, it’s just fine to say “no thanks”.
No pressure. No driving. Sometimes saying yes; sometimes no.
I think this is called living. I’m still familiarizing myself, so I’m not entirely sure.
I hope to, in the next days (weeks?) share some of the ways I’m learning to filter all the going, doing, choices and options. It seems that especially during the holidays all this craziness can go into hyper-mode. I’m on a mission to push back. And I thought I’d share with you some of the little ways that we are doing that, in our quest to thrive and not just survive this holiday season.
Hopefully you’ll also share with me some of the ways that you navigate the driven culture that we live in….or maybe (if you’re my friends from the Netherlands!!) how you manage to avoid it altogether! Goodness knows I need all the help with this I can get!!