“The willingness to be and to have just what God wants us to be and have, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else, would set our hearts at rest, and we would discover the simpler life, the greater peace”. -Elisabeth Elliot
This quote found its way to my Instagram feed earlier this week and it perfectly sums up a few things that have been swirling around in my mind lately. Sometimes I feel like as a mom, and as just a human being in general, I am constantly striving. To be a better this or that, to do more of abc, to do less of xyz, and most certainly get the latest whatever it is.
I like to think of myself as mature and beyond this perpetually discontent life, but the truth is, I get pulled back into it easily and often.
One minute things are fine, and the next minute I am lamenting the fact that I am obviously failing in some random area of life. Not even because I am “bad” at something, but most often it is because I have decided that someone else is “better”.
I am going out on a limb here, but I am wondering if you might do that too?
This striving and comparison wears on us. We all have specific gifts and talents and we need to enjoy and share those skills. But we also need to know which things are not for us and be strong enough to walk away from those things- without feeling we are somehow a failure because of it.
This theme of knowing your skills vs. knowing when to walk away was also discussed in the (beautiful) daily devotional I am reading- Savor, by Shauna Niequist. She encourages her readers to make a list of do’s and don’ts as far as how they choose to spend their time and energy. Being the cool person I am, with a passionate love of a good list, I took a few minutes to reflect on this and created my own lists.
My list of things I do was easy to create.
I love doing projects with my children. I love photographing the beautiful moments that make up everyday life. I love decorating, writing, cooking, and organizing. These are things I enjoy because they are my God-given talents and interests. It is not difficult to do them- it is actually the opposite. Doing and sharing these things energizes me. If I don’t make time for these things, I feel lifeless.
The list of things I don’t do came pretty easily too.
I don’t do super intensive craft projects. I don’t bake and decorate beautiful pastries. I don’t keep up with all the latest fashion trends. I don’t train for marathons- or care if I look like I do. I don’t make super cute snacks for my kids shaped like dinosaurs or sharks or butterflies. Nor do I scrapbook their lives. (Sorry, boys)! I don’t do these things because they are draining for me. I wasn’t created with the skill set to enjoy or excel at these things. And that’s okay.
After the initial lists were made, I tried to move on. But I could feel there was still something else.
Something that kept coming to my heart as I reflected on my do and don’t lists. I kept brushing it aside, but it was persistent. And when I finally let it come to light and acknowledged this particular thing was not right for me, I felt an immediate sense of peace.
So, here it is. My mommy confession. An earth shattering addition to my don’t list:
I don’t do elaborate kid birthday parties…..anymore.
In my entire career as a mom, I have always picked themes, made or purchased coordinating decorations, ordered custom cakes and created perfectly thematic menus. We would celebrate multiple times as a family, with friends and with extended family.
And everything was super adorable and wonderful except for one tiny detail….the stressed and exhausted mommy who dreaded her children’s birthdays.
It feels very scandalous to admit that, but it is the truth.
Obviously I am crazy about my boys, I just can’t continue down the perfect party path. Its exhausting and not sustainable. And beyond that, I want my kids’ birthdays to be about them, not the picture perfect party and theme.
So last week when we celebrated my younger son’s second birthday, I abandoned my plans for a farm animal themed party and went the simple route. We had family over for doughnuts in the morning, and took the boys to the zoo in the afternoon. That night we had the birthday boy’s favorite dinner and an imperfect but tasty birthday cake I made myself. And the whole thing was wonderful.
(The whole experience, not the whole cake. I only ate half of that. But it was wonderful too. Click here to get the recipe).
Maybe your lists are the opposite of mine. Maybe you are exhausted just thinking about crafting with your kids and you thrive on creating beautiful events. Awesome. If it makes your heart happy, I am happy for you too! You be you, I will be me, and its all good.
But I do want to encourage you to make you own lists.
Make sure the things on your do list actually find their way into your schedule. We tend to push aside things we enjoy as being frivolous, and we have to stop that!
Be honest with your don’t list. Even if something used to be on your do list but it feels like a burden now, its okay to change your mind.
And I think most importantly, in reference to the Elisabeth Elliot quote at the beginning, stop comparing your lists to everyone else’s lists. God made each of us uniquely and with our own unique purpose. Accept yourself right as you are, right where you are- He does. You don’t have to keep striving.
I shared a lot about myself in this post, and I would love to hear about you!
Leave me a comment and let me know what things are on your do and don’t lists. Were any of those things surprising to you?