Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Life Happens (LH)

I’m sorry it’s been over a month since I’ve posted here. Encouragement and support are so important to the process of SPS. Without weekly meetings, seeing new information on the web site and frequent, “in touch” blog postings keep us connected and create our cyber community. For all my enthusiasm and intentions, I have not been able to do this, as often as I would like. I love doing the web site, the blog and SPS. I am a geek and artist and my essence yearns to spend my every waking moment getting all these great ideas out of my redheaded noggin onto the www.

(Now this is where I list all the LH events that have poked small little holes in the feeble wall holding my life together. Suddenly, you notice the water is above your knees and you’re asking yourself, “When did this happen?”)

I work a 40-hour a week job. Of course, this rarely means 40 hours. I spent a short time in Nashville when my mother was sick. She’s doing very well now, PG. My husband is in school and that puts a funny twist on things. I have relatives coming into town next week. And my own health issues are a constant. Of course, there’s always laundry, groceries, house cleaning, disabled cars, weddings, birthdays, funerals, hospital visits, church meetings, cooking, etc.

Despite all this, I’m determined to squeeze in a couple of good things like watching a movie with my husband, riding my bike, reading a magazine, praying, calling a friend, writing a note, or studying my bible. Doing this, though, resembles trying to shove one more pair of jeans into a washing machine that already has 20 pair in it. None of them get done well, I get stressed out trying to do it and everything has to be done all over again anyway.

My lament is the big “T”: TIME. Although I’m proud at how often I say “no”, even to little things, there’s never enough T. I remember when I was sitting in the airport waiting to catch my flight to Nashville. I had about an hour and I began to think of all the things I could get done in an hour if I were at home. But in an airport, it’s just T out the window.

I hadn’t heard from Sandi, our resident writer, in quite a while so I wrote to her the other night. I knew the signs and could predict the diagnosis: she was having a severe T deficiency. But I wanted her to know I was thinking about her and that she was missed. Her reply e-mail read like a lament so I asked her if I could copy it here:

I wonder how in the world I'm so swamped when I've signed up to do so little! I'm not writing a book. I'm teaching only one class. I'm not taking a class. I'm just reviewing Greek for my entrance exam. And I'm editing a quarterly magazine, which has been ridiculously complicated this time around.

I spent hours today online answering students' questions and entering grades. My husband was gone 4 days last week, so I was single parenting. On Thu my niece and her hubby fly in for 4 days. Some of my being swamped had to do with losing the motherboard on my computer and shopping, buying, waiting for, and installing everything for the new computer.

Anyway, I'm frustrated with what appears to be the complete inability to get ahead on anything. Part of it was that I had two interns signed up to help me this semester and then both ended up doing their own projects that took so much time they didn't have time to help me. So I was spending time supervising them and getting nothing in return--except two little certificates to a book store...

I know that Life is Happening for everyone. The good thing is that SPS is structured for when LH. Although meeting in person on a weekly or monthly basis might be more motivating, the web site is there all hours of the day and night. It’s never ahead of you or waiting for you to catch up. You can visit it when you’re in Nashville visiting your mother, when you’re over at a friend’s house, or when you’re at work. It meets you where you are. And it waits for you. I am committed to SPS and I will make sure that it is here for you on that day when you’re determined to squeeze in at least one thing for yourself.


Erin said...

I affectionately call this "The Iceberg Effect." Like icebergs, my commitments seem manageable and even harmless on the surface. All is calm. No need to worry. But once I go below the water and really get in the midst of it, it turns out to be a HUGE thing. Big enough to sink an oceanliner. Or the rest of my monthly calendar. Or my plans for a restful weekend. Or my bank account.

All those things I didn't think to plan for suddenly rear their ugly heads. Someone I was relying on to fulfill a role now can't do it and it's ALL on my shoulders. Miscommunication. Misunderstanding. Underestimating the task. Mismanaged time. Out of whack priorities. An inability to say "No." (Gosh, this sounds like my resume!)

If you read a few posts below this one, Sandi posted several laments written by women during the holiday season. Seems like the "Iceberg Effect" is contagious! Especially at this time of year. (So I'll try not to breathe in your direction.) We all want the holidays to be special and meaningful, and even worshipful. This year I have been asking myself if I try to cram too MUCH meaning into the holidays.
Small example: I have a great Advent calender that comes with little books you are supposed to read every evening in December. It parses out the Christmas story into bite-sized pieces and when you read each tiny book, you hang it on your Christmas tree. What a great way to close the day focusing on the true meaning of Christmas!
But I have noticed in the last few years that I have not been faithful to reading those little books with my family every night, and then I feel guilty that we haven't made time for it. And then we sit and read 18 books in one night to try to catch up, and the kids are bored, and I'm trying to just get it done. How worshipful is that? I think I missed the point. So I'm going to leave the Advent calendar in the attic this year.
There is so much I want to do to give my kids the holiday experience I remember as a child. Christmas cookies (home baked, of course), driving around to see the lit up houses, being a part of the Live Nativity at church, drinking hot chocolate and listening to Johnny Mathis Christmas albums... And then there is the spiritual aspect I definitely don't want to gloss over. To downplay Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, in deference to Emmanuel. Which is why I wanted to read through that Advent calendar in the first place.

I know that Christmas and Thanksgiving are not the only times of the year that I get sunk by the iceberg. It just seems like the oceanliner is much bigger and filled with more cargo around Nov/Dec.
Rhonda, I liked your analogy of stuffing jeans into the washer. In the end, it's a wasted effort that only brings frustration, irritation, aggrivation, and a lot of huffs and puffs when I discover that I have to start from Square One. Someone once told me, "Slow and steady wins the race," and I'd like keep my oceanliner afloat this year.

relevantgirl said...

Life is happening here in France too. Perhaps stress is a universal thing. I'm trying to write a novel that refuses to be written for a house that's mildly interested. Why am I doing this? I am writing proposals for books, feeling totally inadequate. I am translating homework from french into english back to french. I am struggling with how much I sleep. I am tired in France. Worn out and sick. And then there are expectations: be the best cross cultural mommy, be the supportive wife, be the best church planter, be the loving teammate, reach out to people who barely understand your french, meet with teachers who speak french, pay bills I don't understand (and hope I'm not getting taken advantage of), calm the many tears of my children, fret over nonexistent finances and the wallowing dollar against the euro, miss home so terribly I ache inside. OK!

So, I'm lamenting alongside you. I may not be able to visit here as much as I'd like to. But I am lamenting and I am seeking Jesus.

And now there's Christmas. Interestingly, I gave a talk in Portland at a Hearts at Home conference about simplifying Christmas. And now I am longing to live by my words! Because things are tight, we are making gifts this year. We aren't going anywhere. I think we'll actually have a less stressful Christmas, void of family expectations.

So there is a bright spot in the midst of the gloom.

If only I could grasp it.

Erin said...

Hey Mary,
All those expectations you mentioned above... is somebody placing those on you, or are you doing it to yourself?