Today I was a good mother and teacher and housewife and friend. All week, really.
I entertained. I ran errands for a couple friends. I did (and put away!) many loads of laundry. I prayed for people. I taught my kids a smidge of Algebra and they got it and loved it.
That was great.
In that same time--seven days--I didn't write a word. Well, I wrote a couple emails. I was a good mom and friend and a TERRIBLE writer. Actually, I wasn't a terrible writer. I just wasn't a writer.
I'd planned a big project for March. I needed to write 500 words per day...
Also, I failed miserably at this spiritual exercise I'd planned. In fact, I sort of pretended I'd never intended to actually do it. And now I'm face to face with the reality that I am not growing in this virtue (or even trying to grow).
Can I still say I had a good week?
I sometimes feel like life is a thousand piece puzzle but the pieces keep wandering off. I want to be whole--to give my full attention to everything worth doing and becoming--but that idea, getting all the pieces in place, seems impossible.
Even with Jesus.
It seems impossible, I suspect, because it is.
I can't have it all or be it all. There isn't enough time in the day to do all the things. There isn't enough energy or willpower or even Holy Spirit to fix and do and improve and perfect everything.
And that's okay.
Honestly though? I'm not sure I believe that--the okay part. My head does. It's calculated the hours and assessed the rate of personal progress and whatnot. But my heart? It keeps aching for everything...
Later in this post we'll consider some God-wisdom, help for you from God via me. Because I needed help and went looking and found some comfort.
But for the next twenty seconds all I want to do is bemoan the reality that I will never get to do all the things I want to do or be all the me I want to be. I'm even going to list them. All the things. Right here. Because my guess is you have a long list like mine, a list of things that seem mostly reasonable but altogether impossible to actually, entirely do and be (#becauselife). For me, this list is serious. Most of it feels like a calling or a pressure or both, like if I don't do this thing, I'm not being all I should be.
Here's my list:
I want to learn to play the piano (and maybe the banjo) so I can write songs. I want to sew and weld. I want to write a novel. And direct really great, practical Bible study videos. And start a blog with my husband.
And probably write a script for a movie.
I want to start a blog for amateur photographers with an ATX location-scouting feature and a blog about eating out in Austin with kids as a way to be light to my city.
I want to commit one day a week to visiting some women at my church who can't get out of the house.
I want to lead a story-telling team at my church to create videos and conduct live-interview testimonies and otherwise tell the stories of our people.
I want to start a business with my kids.
I want to be healthy and fit in my jeans and not have arms that flap when I wear a tank top.
I want to always have a clean house.
I want to keep up with the laundry.
I want to pay all the bills on time and have fewer bills.
I want to be waaaay more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. We're talking Mary, mother of Jesus, self-controlled.
I want to never get a ticket.
I want to garden.
I want to regularly transfer the photos on my phone to my hard drive.
I want to keep up with current events and vote in local elections.
I want to talk to strangers about Jesus. Or just maybe be wiling to talk to strangers.
I want to build wells and buy fair trade and pray for martyrs.
I want to hang out with more people who're different than I am.
I want to figure out my food issues and forgive somebody and learn how to be a better friend.
I want to take daily showers.
And I want to do all these things tomorrow.
That's my abbreviated list.
Writing that felt amazing. You should make a list. We'll talk about why when you get back. Go make a list right now. Stop reading and make a list and come back.
Okay. So you made the list. Didn't it feel freeing? I hope so. For me, writing the list reminded me (tada!) I can't live the list. It's too much and too long and a lot of it seems ridiculous (Daily showers?! Ha.). Writing the list was like hitting a pillow. Cathartic. Maybe I didn't ever need to do all those things. Maybe I just needed to write them down. ;)
No, that's not it. I really do love the list. I'm inspired by it. I see in it a host of possibilities. And if I can see it that way, as possibilities--all good, none absolutely essential--I think it can be healthy, a sort of springboard for better living.
It's when I let the list start taunting me, when I let it grow into a list of things I'm not doing, a better self I'm not being, that's when things get bad.
That's when I start getting overwhelmed and anxious. When I start despising myself for my inability to measure up.
Earlier I promised some wisdom for we, the people who want to get it all right all the time. Here are four things I'm discovering about God's plan in my ridiculous quest to be more than makes sense:
1. It's not all wrong to want to be perfect. We want to be whole and perfect, because we were made to be. And one day we will be as we once were. [To an extent we're perfect now, being made perfect again and again: For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.] So when I start wishing I could be who I want to be, I remind myself that soon, much sooner than it seems, I'll be made forever new--totally transformed in the image of my perfect Savior.
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed." Romans 8:18-19
In the meantime...
2. God has grace for the me I am now. He's forgiving me and waiting for me. God's perfectly fine with my failing to live my list. He can handle me letting down a friend or not writing for a week. So long as I'm walking by His side, He'll stick close to mine, even when my side is messy, inconsistent, and not what I wish it were.
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light... the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." I John 1:7-8
3. God's grace makes me more perfect. Grace, throughout the New Testament, leads God's people into righteousness and holiness. Somehow, His willingness to forgive and bless despite our unworthiness motivates and empowers us to live more right-ly more faithfully. When we lean into His grace, He inspires us to maturity, wisdom, and regular obedience.
"He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace." II Timothy 1:9
4. You can't aspire alone. Perfect is impossible without God. And better is, too. I need God to grow. I need God to reach. For goodness' sake, I need God to breathe. I try SO hard to get everything right. And you know what, I've realized I'm trying too hard. There's a difference between trying and relying. Both are active. But one never gets you anywhere but exhausted.
"Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." Psalm 86:11
That's what we want ultimately, right? An undivided heart. Wholeness. Completion.
God can give us that.