Image Text: Bible Gateway; Image: Canva
This winter, I’ve been doing a lot of exercising indoors. The constant barrage of snow and ice has forced my sneakers from pounding the pavement to pounding the carpet. I can honestly say that Leslie Sansone and her Walk at Home program has saved my life. I need those positive exercise endorphins to keep me sane during the long, dark winter months!! The other day, I was going through my 4 Mile Power Walk when my 10-year old decided it was an excellent time to take up juggling. He had received a juggling kit for Christmas and looked at it a couple of times. But today, my power walk day, was the time to put the kit to work.
The first step in learning to juggle, according to his instruction book, is to toss the balls in the air. That’s it. Grab balls. Toss. Repeat. The idea, as he explained it to me, was to get comfortable with dropping the balls. And so, as I walked, jogged, kicked, and knee-lifted, I did so through a minefield of red velvet balls flying through the air.
I could have told him to knock it off. I could have banished him and his deceptively heavy missiles to the basement where he would bother no one. However, as I kept my focus on my workout and dodged both my son and his juggling act, it came to me that this is how many of us consistently experience life–navigating our way through a series of randomly-flung objects in order to achieve a goal. I call it the demolition derby approach to life. We strap in, grip the wheel, slam the accelerator, and swerve, hoping in the end that we reach the finish line with non-catastrophic damage.
However, I don’t think this is the life God designed for us to live. When Jesus talked about fullness, abundance, and quenched thirst, I think he envisioned a more focused and intentional existence. I think Jesus envisioned a life spent with our eyes fixed on him, growing in his wisdom and love, sharing our experiences of him and our understanding of him with others. And yet, so often our lives become reactionary. We lose focus of the goal and instead get distracted trying to catch all of the balls flying around through the air.
The mundane tasks of everyday living, the constant need for busyness, to be productive, to prove our worth to the world gets in the way of experiencing the fullness and completeness of God’s love and grace in our lives. And so, we push harder. We strive for more. More stuff to organize our clutter, more food to fill an already full pantry, more clothes to be on-trend, more activities for the kids to participate in, more projects to fill our already maxed-out time, more work to show that we have accomplished something tangible. The world seems to always cry, “More! More! More!” And so, we grab at the more and forget that maybe, just maybe, life is really about less.
The idea of less has been slowly coming to me over the past two years. It’s a quiet word God whispers to my soul whenever I consider how much more I need/want/crave. There’s freedom, I think, in the less. Freedom to let the balls drop. Freedom to focus on God’s abundance already present in my life. Earlier this fall, I decided that my 2019 word was DECREASE. I was going to flesh it out during the New Year, consider action steps that would help me intentionally decrease the things in my life that were preventing me from becoming the true version of myself God intended for me to be. But then, when we lost my dad, I just didn’t care.
The past three months have been a haze of “Meh” moments for me. I focus on work because it occupies my time. I focus on exercise because it makes me feel less sad. I focus on being with my boys and my husband because they bring me joy. But my usual zest for living and becoming the best version of myself I can be has waned significantly in the wake of grief. So, when Lent rolled around on the annual cycle of time and my boys asked me how I was observing it, I was caught off guard. The truth is, I hadn’t even considered the prospect of Lent. I sat through my husband’s sermon on Ash Wednesday contemplating Lent. How was I going to observe it? What could I lay down before the King of Kings to honor his great sacrifice, and to move myself closer to his glorious throne?
Again, God whispered a word to my soul…decrease. Stop trying to catch all of those balls flung haphazardly in the air and focus…focus on me. Focus on my words. Focus on my love. Focus on the work I’m doing in this world. Then…then…you will stay on MY solid ground.
This Lenten season, I’m focusing on decrease, not of the material, but of the spiritual. My first step is to decrease the continual internal monologue of “not enough”. You know this monologue, you’ve probably engaged with it before. You look in the mirror and think, not thin/young/pretty/trendy enough. You consider your work and think not dedicated/talented/educated/task oriented enough. You consider the direction you’ve taken in life and think it’s not successful/financially beneficial/typical enough. You spend quiet moments comparing your life to the lives of others around you and think you’re not popular/trendy/successful/happy enough.
However, when we fix our focus on God, he tells us that we ARE enough. We remember that we were made in his image, that he appointed us to do his good works in this world, that he gifted us with talents and abilities for use in building his kingdom. And everything God creates and gives is good, because God has spoken it so.
I don’t know what balls you’re trying to catch right now, but what happens if you let them fall? What happens if you stop striving to catch them, and instead, fix your eyes on Jesus, knowing that he who began a good work in you will see it through to completion. (Philippians 1:6)
Blessings and Peace,