Saturday, April 29, 2017

Survival Mode and scurrying


Years ago I went for some counseling to help me figure out how to handle an issue in my life. I spent about six weeks meeting with a woman, once a week, trying to get clarity and direction. After those six weeks, I ultimately came away with two things:

#1.    there are more ways to fix a problem than throwing money at it, and sometimes that's the worst thing you can do. 

#2.   I was a pro at Survival Mode, having spent most of my life practicing it. 

When you spend about half a century doing something, it more than becomes a habit, a go to, the place to run when life throws a curve. 

And life throws curves often enough it can become a pretty constant place to be and way to live. 

Sometimes you try to survive yourself, and sometimes you try to save the whole world. Either or both are exhausting, and nobody is up for a long run of that. 

So we're in our house, relatively settled, and I've realized this past month that for more years than I can count I've been in survival mode. There's been very little ooze or grace or spontaneity or just living day to day. And I'm tired in every single way I can think of. 

Not frantic burned out empty with absolutely nothing to give. That's how I felt the summer we moved my mother into the nursing home. That was when, if you happened to ask me what I was having for supper, I'd feel overwhelmed and tears would start to trickle down my face. I'm not there, but it's time for a change. Hopefully there's a new sheriff in town, and he's not a task master, but rather one who exudes grace and gentle living, and sipping tea and taking walks and reading books, and saying no to almost everything for awhile. 

I don't need a break. I need a new way of living. 

I don't need more purpose, I need less. 
I'm thinking...
  • instead of going to the library with a list of books, planned out, go and peruse the shelves and see what strikes my fancy.
  • instead of making a to do list, get out of bed and see how I feel. 
  • instead of signing up for a Bible study or small group or online course, just don't sign up for anything.
  • instead of putting on my calendar to meet a friend every single certain day of the week to have deep conversations and such or 'exercise', once in awhile call a friend, spur of the moment, to take a leisurely walk or knit and chat. Just chat. 
  • instead of calling my family to be sure everyone is okay, call just to say hello and ask how the garden is doing. 
  • instead of planning out menus for the week, don't. And at the last minute have popcorn for supper and call it good. Or go out for ice cream. Or whip up a pizza from what's in the pantry. Who cares if it's a weird concoction. 
  • Instead of reading heavy non-fiction how to's, read some light fiction for a change. Some unplanned light fiction. 
  • instead of keeping my phone next to my side (how and when did we ever begin to think that was normal?!?!?!) check email once a day and use my phone as a tool rather than telling myself the lie we've all swallowed that I need to be 'connected' all the time. I don't. You don't. And it's exhausting to try to do so. 
We moms, whether it's a house with kids underfoot, or empty-nesters, have been told forever that we're to multi-task, figure out how to do it all, all at once. I'm looking for doing less, more of the time, and not having every i dotted. I'm definitely at a stage of life where most things on my holy to do list could be pushed to tomorrow anyway, but likely most moms could push much off their list too, and not feel so harried. Feed the kids and everything else is negotiable.

I wonder if someone out there sold us a bill of goods that, for us to feel like our life matters, we have to scurry to and fro, have a full to do list, have too much on our plate, be stretched to our limit most of the time.

Can our life matter when everything isn't an emergency? 

So I'm going to try to do things differently. Instead of starting over to completely reorganize my life, make it more efficient, list out my 99 resolutions for change, I'm going to try to live without a to do list; just keep a list of essentials I need to remember, like making a dr appt or pick up more guacamole or such, and let the days unroll one at a time. 

I remember my mother telling me, a number of years ago, that once in awhile she'd put her shoes on different than she normally did, left first then right, just to remember that she could still change. Make new habits. Break old ones. Years and years of scurrying to and fro is exhausting, and there's bound to be a better way to do things than climb into the hamster wheel day after day. (BTW, the life expectancy of most hamsters is 2 1/2 years, just saying.)

I've thought before that Jesus was never in a hurry, never flustered; he lived spontaneously yet with purpose. He had time for people but withdrew now and then to be alone. He didn't heal everyone, he didn't say yes to everything. He didn't have a bulleted to do list, and never owned a planner. If Jesus didn't feel the need to fix everyone, solve every problem, be available all the time, why on earth would I?

Just food for thought....

2 comments:

Connie said...

hi bev..........that last paragraph about Jesus is definitely save-worthy and a great reminder!

Bev said...

Connie, thanks for your kind comment and for taking time to stop by!