Thursday, August 25, 2016

Do Easy Things


I have the utmost respect for the “Do Hard Things” movement, and have even had the privilege of knowing both Alex and Brett Harris a little bit personally, and I admire them deeply.  I think “Do Hard Things” is a great slogan, and exactly what a lot of people need to hear—get off your ______ and get busy.  Take that risk.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Learn that new skill.  Sign up.  Show up.  Be there for other people.  Put your gifts to work.  Say “yes.”

But in all things there is balance, and for my personality, with my tendencies toward over-achieving and legalism, saying “yes” and doing hard things has never been that much of a struggle.  What has been a struggle is sometimes feeling like I’m on a hamster wheel where I always need to run faster, more and harder is always better, and choosing the easier route is somehow wrong.

Why order pizza if you can make your own?  Why pay for housecleaning if you can scrub your own toilets?  Why use disposable diapers if you can be greener and cheaper with cloth?

From someone who has cloth diapered, scrubbed toilets, and made a lot of homemade pizza, let me tell you—these are all great things to do.  But on days when these things, and many things like them, become an obligation, a burden, when you feel a sense of failure and dread and anxiety for not keeping up and doing enough, it is absolutely okay to order pizza, pay for housecleaning, use disposable diapers, take the easy route.

In fact, it is not just okay, it is better, if taking the easy route means you have more time and energy to do the more important things (what may be the truly hard things!), like build relationships, do what feeds your soul, prioritize your health, and sit on the deck watching the sunset.

This year as I planned home schooling, I got all excited about a “World Cultures” unit I wanted to do with my kids.  We were going to learn about all the countries of the world, snuggling up on the couch reading about different people in different places, and doing hands-on activities like coloring country flags, using a sticker atlas, making international food, and cutting out paper dolls with ethnic clothing.  I’m a cheap home school mom, but I spent upwards of $100 on curriculum for this unit.  I imagined my children growing up with a knowledge of world geography, an appreciation for other cultures, an awareness of their own first world wealth and privilege, and a compassion and respect for others.

In short, I was really enthusiastic about this.  Over the summer, I battled fatigue, depression, and chronic pain from Lyme disease.  At the same time as I started improving in late July/early August, we welcomed a foster daughter into our home.  And I have a one-year-old who seems crazy bent on destruction of himself and his surroundings at all times.

(Just this morning when I was having a good-mommy moment of doing phonics homework with the two girls, my baby silently dismembered a fortunately washable black marker and tried to eat it.  He looked like he befriended a particularly toxic lollipop.  Moments like this are typical.)

Cute, huh?

As I approached the home school year, I felt this growing sense of dread and overwhelm, as if I couldn’t do it and was doomed to failure.  Every time I thought about planning and beginning the school year, I just wanted to crawl in bed and quit.  Finally I recognized the problem—I didn’t see how to make the “World Cultures” unit work with everything else we have going on right now.

So I gave myself permission to postpone that project.  I’m still very excited about it, and I think it will be great for my kids, and all that curriculum is on the shelf waiting, but it will be even more age-appropriate and hopefully much more possible in a year or two than it is now.  In its place, I bought the audio of Story of the World Volume 1.

Because snuggling for an hour of uninterrupted reading followed by an hour of hands-on projects?  Not possible for me right now.  Turning on an audio CD for the older kids while I hold the 1YO with one arm and make lunch with the other?  Now that I can do.

Part of "do easy things" this school year is no complicated breakfasts.  Everything is made the night before, so in the morning all I need to do is put a pan in the oven.  This is the beginning of an egg casserole.

Ultimately “do easy things” shouldn’t be about taking the easy road in life, but instead it should be about having the discernment to know when to make the easy choice that will enable you to do the more important things.  Talking with my husband, I decided that my “big rocks” for this school year were home schooling our kids, fostering a little girl, and teaching part-time.

These are three big goals, and I would like very much to see all three happen successfully.  But in order to prioritize them, I need to make easy choices elsewhere, and to make those choices without guilt.

On Saturday I had great plans to make homemade pizza.  You know how in your mind’s eye you can create this idealized story that closely resembles a television commercial?  There I was, rolling out the pizza dough with the delighted help of two little girls.  Then everybody helped with toppings to make their pieces of pizza exactly as they wanted them.  What a great family bonding experience, culminating in a healthy dinner.

But then the day happened, and I ended up buying pizza at Costco.

Things like that have happened a lot lately.  When do you make the easy choice and when do you make the hard one?  It’s not always clear, which is why we need to pray every day for wisdom.

Jesus tells us His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  And you know what that means?  If your yoke is hard and your burden is heavy, maybe you need to walk a little closer with Jesus, ask Him how to lay it down at the cross, how to focus on what He wants you to do, and how to let the rest go.

1 comment:

  1. So very true! You are defining a season of do easy things. Have you read "The Best Yes"? It was so good for me and helps me in big and little decisions. Kombucha was not my best yes so it had to go. Making bread is my best yes so it stays. Thx as always for being so real and sharing your heart!

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