Wednesday, March 23

When Staying is Harder Than Quitting

Ever so often, I have the overwhelming urge to quit.

I want to quit mothering when I'm mega-overwhelmed with all the ages, stages and issues under my roof. Bolting out the door seems to be the only answer.

I wish the exhaustion would cease and the fruit of the effort would magically settle in.

I want to quit speaking into anybody else's life. I want to be done working toward a life of ministry writing and speaking. And I want to be done having people know more about me than I'd prefer.

I want to be quiet. Obscure. Under the radar.

But then again I don't.

Because even if I chose to figuratively stop doing the hard and draining work of mothering all these people and literally stop speaking into the lives of others, I couldn't.
It's in my nature to do so.

I'm drawn to be intentional with my kids and be with my kids, even when it's mind-numbingly mundane.
I'm beckoned to sit and tap on the keys and fill notebooks, even on the days when I see no purpose in it.

Even if I chose to stop formulating messages, I couldn't.
Because they involuntarily run through my head each day, and are frantically written down lest I forget them.

But most importantly, I couldn't stop because I'm wired to do these things. Quitting would be like attempting to unravel my DNA and manipulate it into some balloon animal creation that slightly resembles a wiener dog. It just wouldn't work.

I'm wired to mother and to minister to other women. Even when it all feels like it's going nowhere in the fast lane most of the time.

When I remember God wired me to do these things, my heart is hushed. My resolve is strengthened and my eagle-eyes reset their sights on the far-off finish line God has set before me. I'm in this for the long-haul because He is asking me to be.

Plus, all of the hard stuff can also be gloriously fun and rewarding in the very same day. Like, crazy good.

What do we do about those days when we want to quit doing the things we're called to? Those days where our lives aren't gloriously fun or rewarding, but instead are downright hard and depressing? Staying feels harder than quitting on those days.

Working at that marriage. Parenting that child with needs so far above your ability to deal. Showing love to that friend whose life has taken her down a different path than our own. Taking those college classes. Running that business. Taking care of that aging parent.

Stay is a powerful force.

It's tempting to look around and notice how easy life seems to be playing out for everyone else. It can be so deceiving.

When things appear to be stable, good, and thriving in the lives of those around us, it's definitely not because it's been easy for them. Truly healthy individuals, truly strong relationships, and truly successful ventures are only such because someone spent a good portion of their time and effort working at it.

Thriving doesn't come easily. Healthy relationships don't come without an investment.

We've all heard triumphant stories of people who didn't give up. Like the Cliff Youngs of this world and household names who have persevered against crazy odds.

These verses in James 1:2-4 have been encouraging to me when persevering has felt impossible:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

The hardship we experience as we keep at it isn't where the joy is found. I've often been confused by this, or felt like I'm some lousy Christ-follower. The joy comes through the persevering. It's in the reward that's found as we keep at it. Faith results in perseverance. Perseverance produces maturity and completeness. I can thank God for trials because of what they produce in me.

Faith. Perseverance. Maturity. Completeness. 

Staying may be harder than quitting, but the results speak for themselves.

** A wee disclaimer: I am not advocating for staying in abusive situations. Please get help. Speaking to someone from your church or a trusted friend or family member is a good place to begin. xo

Friday, March 11

The Twinkle is Back

I've started and restarted this blog post too many times. 

How does one start blogging again after two months away? I can't just start talking about my favorite music or how we should all learn to love without the limits we so often put in place. I can't start there, so I'll just say hello.

Hello, there. I'm still here. 

I'm active on my Facebook page, popping in every day or so. So if you're on Facebook, won't you join me over there? 

I'm also busy writing and podcasting over at The Masterpiece Mom. Our podcast is also available on iTunes, which is so fun. But it was in this place I began writing almost 10 years ago, and it is this place that holds such a special place in my heart. 

Well, this wasn't the first place I began writing. There was the book I wrote in 5th grade. Do you remember Sweet Valley Twins? Ahem. I read every single one of those books, paying my hard-earned allowance for them. After reading a crazy number of stories about Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, naturally I wrote a story called Triplets of Long Beach. Yes, I did. That was the last time I wrote fiction. You can all thank me for that. 

I moved on to loving writing reports and term papers in high school and college. And technically, I started writing online two blog addresses ago, but I think you get what I'm saying. I guess I've been a writer for a long time. 

Hello, again. 

I hereby pledge to post at least every other week (on the weeks I'm not writing for my other site) for the next two months to get back in the habit. Will you hold me to that? Come knock on my virtual "door" in the comments or on the Facebook page if I'm not holding up my end. You have my permission. 

Life has been tough. So tough this last year. The kind where you cry through nearly every worship service. That's the main reason for my absence. I just haven't known what to say. When writing for The Masterpiece Mom, I can compartmentalize and write about mom stuff, and it keeps things neutral. But over here, I write about some different things, and sometimes they hit a little too close to home. 

I wrote Into the Presence of God {A Prayer for the Hard Times} during one of the hardest weeks, and The Girl in the Next Seat a few weeks after. I needed to keep writing. But it wasn't easy. There was nothing new to say. 

But things have turned a corner. Nothing's changed, really. The circumstance is still just as difficult. But when God plants peace in your heart, things do change. 

I'm doing well. For the first time in almost a year, I can actually say that with a familiar twinkle in my eye. That twinkle's been away. 

Have you been in that place of unexplainable peace when the storm is still raging? Isn't it just so welcomed? 

Our standards change and we become content with things not quite looking the way we'd hoped or imagined. I'm guessing that's the state of mind we're intended to have all along.

So hello, again. It's nice to be back.