Weeding the Swamped Life
We all have that one thing that makes us feel alive. That thing that we were made to do. Of course there are loads of things we need to do… earn a living, run our homes, raise our kids. We were made for all of that. But then there’s that special something that makes us feel as if the life of God is flowing through us, not caught up somewhere in the busyness. I’m reminded of the line in Chariots of Fire: When I run, I feel God’s pleasure. It may be running. It may be dancing. It may be writing, or painting, or helping someone through a crisis. Whatever it is, when we do it, we feel like we’re not just fulfilling God’s general purpose for mankind, but actually doing what we were specifically made for.
Of course, for some people, it will be a number of things. And some people are lucky enough to do their ‘thing’ for a living. If you are ‘called’ to practice medicine, or to preach, or to teach, you might just be that lucky. Maybe your ‘thing’ is kids, and you get to be a full-time mom. What a gift! Everyday, feeling that you have fulfilled not just your general call but your specific purpose, doing what you were tailor-made for. But others less fortunate can go weeks, months, (heaven-forbid) possibly even years, feeling like a clogged up well.
Personally, I am absolutely delighted with my day job of getting to school my own children, but still… There is that one thing that makes me feel like I’m in the sweet spot. For me, it’s writing. Last year, while I was writing a book, you would have thought I was pregnant the way I was glowing! Trouble is, as with a natural wellspring, it requires maintenance to keep it open and flowing. Sometimes it feels as if the weeds of life are dead set on choking out all the supply. The start of this year has been busy, and for some of us, myself included, it can feel like the busyness has overwhelmed our purpose. This last Saturday I had the privilege of lying outside on the lounger under our thatch gazebo for quite some time, and I thought about how I was feeling. I felt like I was always forgetting something. There were emails and sms’s and whatsapps flying at me non-stop during the week, and I felt like I hardly had time to reply to them in amongst my teaching work, let alone action what needed to be actioned and diarise what needed to be diarised. “I feel like there’s so many urgent things, that I can’t figure out what’s important!” I complained to God.
Then it occurred to me that the great thing about weeds, (the only great thing), is that they can be weeded! I began doing an assessment of all the urgent (yet not necessarily important) interruptions that I had during the day and realised that there were a lot I could cut out. Seeing as I read to my children from the kindle app on my phone for a large portion of our school day, I turned off all notifications of emails, messages, whatsapps on my phone, as well as some other annoying notifications I had from other apps telling me to drink water, or reminding me to practice learning a foreign language. (I love apps, can you tell?) My phone remains on silent when I teach and now I would not have any visual notification of interruptions either. I made a note to remind my little ones about our policy on interrupting mom in a lesson. Finally, I began a notebook that had on it’s inside cover a list of my life priorities and purposes. It looked a little like this:
Primary relationships: God, husband, kids
Health: exercise, rest, diet
Home Economics: groceries, meal plans, contractors, family needs
Greater Family: parents and siblings
Friends: local and distant
People I’m discipling
Time to dream with God and fulfil my purpose: write! etc
Then I could use the inside pages to write my to do lists for the day and make sure they lined up with what was really important to me. ( I tear out each page once I’m done so I can always see the front cover from the page I’m currently working from.)
Anyway, whatever your system is, the point is, we can get back to doing the things that really matter to us, and fulfilling the dreams that God has given us. In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells us that sometimes good seed falls on soil that is able to support the seed well, but then weeds grow up and choke the plant so that it is not as fruitful as it should be. The weeds are the worries and troubles of this world. But take heart, because we know the gardener, and He is well able to help us identify and remove the weeds that are preventing us from bearing the fruit we were made to bear. Even in the busy seasons of life we can find time, even if it’s half-an-hour (an hour?) a week, to keep that life flowing through us. Moms, take note. Busy employees and start-up entrepeneurs… God is ready and available to pour His living water through you. Keep the well open by letting it flow out of you into the world through the expression He has given YOU. The world will be better for it, and you will be sustained by it.