“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29 NIV)
Fall is upon us. School is in session. Sports have resumed. Schedules return to “normal.” I’ve got to tell you, I don’t want it. I’m not gonna do it. I resist the temptation to over-fill, over-commit, to say ‘yes’ simply because there is a need. I am not capable of meeting the needs or joining the committees or even making the people happy until my priorities are straight. And my new priority is to do me the way God created.
Several years ago, Aaron and I began talking about the life we truly wanted—realistic dreaming. Then we began doing it! To some, our life may appear frivolous or irresponsible, but I feel we are doing our best with our family and our choices. See, as we’ve pulled back from all the expectations we felt, or even that we’d put upon ourselves, we felt released to practice new rhythms of life, at our own pace, with less comparison.
I spent this summer practicing not as much doing, but rather, more time being. I read books, wrestling with authors in my own introverted way. I rode bikes and picked blackberries with my boys, knowing the time they request my presence is slipping quickly away. It was the most refreshing, spiritually awakening few months I remember in my history. I gave myself permission to not lead anything, to not submit to anyone’s expectations of me, and to relax into a natural resting pace of life. Thankfully, I have the incredible privilege of using my mom’s beach house on Camano, which greatly increased the possibility of living out all these permissions.
This summer I found immense joy in pulling back, in saying “no” to the world in order to say yes to authenticity and play and restoration. I also discovered the truth that living with a healthy body leads to a healthy spirit. Why do we hold ourselves to such unrealistic expectations? And another thing: sometimes I have to let go of (literally, unhand) something I desperately want for my life and TRUST that God will do what he’s gonna do with it for HIS own glory. I want to step into ministry and opportunities that fill me more than exhaust me. I want to say yes because I just cannot stay away rather than say yes to fill a need that depletes my energy.
We have a new family principle: “Give your very best to those who live in this house.” It’s like a motto, but with less achieving and more striving for change. Attempting to live this way has made me rethink most of my words and even emotions. For us, our new intention means serving one another, whittling down our activity choices, and reserving energy to be fully present and engaged in all the “right nows.” We are attempting God’s best for us. And while all these new habits sound great on paper, not all ‘being present and engaged in each moment’ is ideal; my 40-year-old body just cannot jump on the trampoline after dinner, boys. As far as the push of fall schedules and activities to join, don’t rush me! I’m over here making daisy chains while watching multiple soccer games.
Beth can be reached by email here.