Keeping It Real
June 19, 2013
Here’s a snapshot of my day yesterday.
Elizabeth: I can’t find any clean underwear.
Me: Get some out of the dirty clothes and turn it inside out.
Elizabeth: [confused silence]
Me: For real. Get some dirty underwear, turn it inside out, and put it on.
Here is the reality, my friends. Last night, we had chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese and frozen peas for dinner. All of the above resulted from a run to Trader Joes after we finished swim team photos at 6 p.m. Frankly, this is just how we’re rolling right now.
Yes, this is the tension of crunch time.
I knew it was going to be tough. While most of the US is adjusting to the freedom of school getting out, the Simpson household is in a crunch. All our choices. None of it is happening to us. All good things. None the less, it’s stressful. Very unromantic. Not shiny at all. We’re in week two of our homeschooling year. We’re in the midst of soap production for our first whole sale order. And, we’re in the heat of our church’s extreme poverty focus for the summer.
The art is doing all of these things without my family taking a back seat. Without my husband feeling like he is a distant last place to all the other demands in my life. How to do it all and make sure that there is actually milk in the fridge and that dinner will actually appear on the table at the appointed hour?
It’s funny. Not funny as in amusing, but funny as in interesting. When my commitments heat up, my need for boundaries is most acute. My need for my own mental health and for the relational and functional health of my family. In order for my priorities to be to God first and to my marriage second, I have to learn to say no to good things. To things I believe in. As a woman who I respect said, “you have to learn where your no is”. I’m grateful for a church environment that respects and encourages healthy boundaries- even boundaries with church. I’ve been doing a ton of work in this area over the last couple of years, but it’s an area that I have to be vigilant about.
I’m tempted here to give you neat and clear bullet points about how to manage, but the truth is that it would just be talk right now. The truth is that I’m trying to figure out how to do it. The gritty truth is that life isn’t lived in bullet points of how to live in the midst of competing demands. It’s an art, not a science. It has everything to do with following God in a messy imperfect way. It has everything to do with the mish mash of learning to say no. It’s the messy discipleship of being in relationships in ministry. When our issues are coming up in the context of ministry, God’s fingerprints are all over that. I think when our stuff is coming up and being dealt with, God is in the midst of that. Frankly, I think that’s what healthy church looks like. Messy, dirty, relationally smudgy. It’s struggling through the real, daily life in living with Christ, family, church and friends. I’m beyond grateful for all of these things. Beyond grateful to be working with church leadership that would be the last to lay a guilt trip for saying no. But, you know, it’s just messy. I keep waiting to be done. To arrive. But, I don’t think it works that way. I think that instead I keep being reminded of my need for a Savior. I keep needing to be around people who are gracious with me in my bumbling attempts to live in the messy tension of family, God, church and friends. So, yes, I guess my bottom line is that once again, I’m brought around to gratitude. Grateful to have work worth doing. Grateful for my family and friends. Grateful that God keeps reminding me about how much I need Him. I’m grateful that I’m loved by God, family and friends in the midst of my brokenness. Because that brokenness, I think, is just the reality of how things look while we’re here on earth.