On the first of November I logged onto Facebook and, in the midst of everyone’s sweet posts beginning their “days of thankfulness,” I unloaded.
“I HATE THURSDAYS……sorry, needed to vent.”
I don’t actually hate Thursdays. Three-quarters of the day I love; that’s the day my mom comes over and we play. We get coffee and run errands if we need to; we have most of the day together to just enjoy each other’s company…..and then she goes home, and I have to face the fact that I played all day and that nothing got done. Any other day of the week, that would be an easy recovery, but Thursdays are my daughter’s gymnastics night; which means she and I eat dinner together early, and then head out the door for a good chunk of our evening.
This particular Thursday was especially bad. Mom and I had played that morning, but then spent the afternoon at home with the still-new-to-us dog, since I don’t yet know if I can trust her for much longer than three or four hours. Mom and I sat together in my living room; she worked on cross-stitched Christmas presents while I tried to coax a GoogleDoc to work for our Sunday School’s class Christmas party. I would like to say it was a cozy and comfortable afternoon at home; unfortunately I was stressed out from the uncooperative document and an even more uncooperative laptop.
After she left it was a collision of things: get the kids from school, drop them off at home, run the dog to her first vet appointment, run back home, scarf down dinner, throw my daughter in the car and run her to gymnastics, where I texted some more info about the Christmas party to others on the planning committee. While I sat with my phone in my lap, responding to texts, it suddenly began ringing, and I recognized the name at the top of the screen as another friend who, I knew, was calling about a meeting we had the following morning. And I admit it: I saw her name and I groaned. (Yeah, I’ve already ‘fessed up to her, so it’s okay to write about it.) I answered the phone with the statement, “That’s tomorrow, isn’t it?”
That night was so bad my daughter didn’t get bathed. That night was so bad I actually asked my husband for help. (He’s great to pitch in….you’d think I’d ask him more often.) That night it was all I could do to get the kids into bed without a meltdown (me, not them), and crash on the sofa, and unload my seven little words on Facebook.
As I thought about it that night and the following morning, some thoughts began to gel for me. As I watch people run from one thing to the next, as I see our lives crowded with “stuff” of the time-kind, not just the material-kind, I started to realize something. My mind went from rambling thoughts to more specific thoughts and finally, I realized, I could reduce these thoughts to two words:
Some examples, from conversations I’ve had with people over the past few months:
Who says we have to sell popcorn to the school kids the first Friday of every month?
Who says the high schoolers need a coffee bar, staffed by parent volunteers?
Who says we should have gymnastics practice two nights a week, with competitive meets every weekend?
Who says our class party needs to be a catered affair at a venue instead of a potluck in someone’s home?
Who says we need our kids in every activity our church home offers? (If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard a chipper, “If the doors were unlocked, we were there!”)
Please understand….none of these things are bad. But every time someone has another “good idea,” that idea has to be carried out and run by other people. Which leads to well-meaning people being overwhelmed by the amount of stuff they’re doing.
It’s ironic that I’m even writing about this….I’m not a “joiner.” My kids are in the bare minimun on extra-curricular activities, because I think being home, as a family, together, is more important than most stuff they could sign up for. (My son is currently involved in–gasp!–nothing.) I’m not that bad at saying “no;” I had a great amount of practice last month when our trip was closing in and making me feel overwhelmed. It’s really struck me, though, how easy it is to get sucked in; especially when the ideas are so “good.” How quickly we become “the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22)
Or we turn into those invited to the banquet:
“At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ ” (Luke 14: 17-20)
I can hear Jesus saying to us, ” ‘Martha, Martha….you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’ ” (Luke 10:41-42)
As I read through the Old Testament, I’m struck by the continued, repeated instruction given to the kings: Seek Him. Follow Him wholeheartedly. And listen:
“They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side.” (2 Chronicles 15:15)
I realize the verse refers to peace instead of war, but truly….doesn’t rest sound good?