For those of you out there who, like me, are prideful, arrogant and full of themselves, you will totally get what I'm about to say- for those of you who are genuinely humble, you'll still think you're somewhat prideful due to all that humility and you'll probably get it, too.
I have actually and literally HEAPED my proverbial plate full of things I don't actually LIKE doing just because they make me feel good about myself or deepen the sense of inflated ego, which is such a nice feeling... and so lately, I've been clearing my plate, taking one ministry/relationship/activity at a time and asking myself, "Do I love this? Do I need this? Does it bring me gladness?" and I am appalled and saddened by the realization that very little in my life brings me honest joy or gladness.
And this obviously does not include my children or my marriage- the children because of course they don't bring a whole lot of gladness, they're WORK with a capital W. And they're a challenge and they're frustrating and more often than not I have no idea what trick will magically turn them into self-sustaining, independent, well adjusted, fabulously wealthy investment bankers (which is secretly what we all want our children to become). They do make me laugh occasionally, but I don't think that counts....They offer a sense of continuity, they make noise, which I like, and they are wonderful people whom I enjoy spending time with- but they do not make me go, "Gee, this really is LIVING- I feel utterly fulfilled in my life and will never need one blessed thing for myself again, including being able to go to the bathroom without someone tattling through the door, because these small people replica's are literally IT for me."
My marriage however, does bring some very honest gladness for at least 50% of the time, which is better than the current national average for divorce, so I figure I'm doing fine on that front. Plus, I think that even after 8 years married and 9 years together, I'm actually still in love with him, which is nothing to sneeze at. So let's leave those two area's, marriage and family, out of this.
Everything else, however, is and has been, under serious scrutiny. I'm looking at relationships differently, jobs differently, volunteer work differently and I think the bottom line is that I'm finally realizing that my time is extremely valuable. First because this thing called time is actually my LIFE being lived out and I don't want to waste one second of it doing something I don't believe in or can't endorse 100%.
I'm not immortal. I won't live forever. And I don't want old age to creep up on me and surprise me when I'm 70 when there's no time left to go back and change the way I lived or do things I always wanted to do but didn't have the courage. I think, and I don't want to offend anyone when I say this- but I'm going to say it anyway, that Fundamental Christians often do themselves and injustice by perpetually watching the skies for Jesus' return and secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, planning renovations on their mansion in heaven. Very often in doing so, they rob themselves of the joy of living this life now. We take verses such as 'you are in the world, but not of the world' and other favorites which imply, often through our personal interpretation alone, that we should not value our lives so much as to shrink from death, mutilate them to mean that we should not value our lives at all, and then use them as an excuse to avoid living altogether.
Well, here's my thought on that subject, not that you asked for it- We should absolutely be embracing life for every tender, fragile breath that comes into our bodies, for every moment with our loved ones, for every cup of coffee with friends, for every challenge with our children and every broken heart because at least we have that breath, that moment, that friend, that child, that heart to break. I am reminded of Esther and those famous words from Mordecai, "But who knows that you did not become Queen for such a time as this?"
I only know that for me, to live perpetually in the oft feeble hope of a postmortem paradise and cease to claim the life that I'm living now- simply no longer works. Because who knows that I was not born for such a time as this, that I am not a friend for such people as are friends to me, that I am not a mother to such children as are mine. I am no longer able to be co dependent on God to improve my life or make up for all my failures and shortcomings in an eternal heaven where all is well and all the kinks have been worked out.
That's a lovely thought- but I don't want to sit around waiting for life to end so it can begin (maybe) again and totally miss the boat- not to mention the point- on the life He's given me.
So I'm taking a breath, re-evaluating everything, and living a life that brings me joy and gladness and enough hope to take me through what sorrows come to all of us in some way or other- because there just isn't enough time left to waste one moment.
ps- as I have received nothing but complaints on the 'No Cooking' rule I am revising it to read thusly: Melissa is no longer cooking, unless she wants to.