- Carissa Woodwyk
The annoying beep, the “Wake Up Boo!” song, the iPhone trill, the crying baby...whatever it is your sleeping ears hear in the morning, you know it's time to wake up, get moving, begin your day. For me, someone who loves her sleep and who is not the least bit a morning person, I dread that time – that time when you don't choose to wake up, but rather feel forced to wake up. I long to roll over, keep my eyes shut, curl up my legs, and shut the world out. It feels better that way.
Summertime...getting up is so much easier when the sun is shining, the schedules are more flexible, the obligations are minimal. But, as routines and agendas and deadlines roll around, like they do as the autumn air sweeps in, it can be a bit more challenging, feel a bit more daunting. School has started, homework's gotten assigned, sports clamor for our attention, music lessons have begun, volunteer projects are calling, and work...the ever demanding daily necessity that brings home the bacon.
Autumn...a time when we're in full swing; the hustle and bustle that requires organization and order and cooperation by all.
So, how can we step into this season, this autumn, with a sense of groundedness, connectedness (to ourselves and others), and sanity? How can we prevent the million things swirling around us from tempting us to get knocked off our feet and away from those we find most important, most valuable? How can we remain open to finding God, in both the seen and hidden places, where he wants to surprise us with more of himself?
Well, here are some places, some spaces, we could start from:
First, maybe you need to ask yourself, “How much do I want it?” We have to have something alive in us that wants the BEST – for ourselves, for our children, for our partners, for our teammates, for our colleagues, for our friends. I find that many people have lost the belief that living out of their best self is worth pursuing, worth doing. Sometimes, crazy schedules can keep us from having to address what's inside of us, within our families, between our marriages. It's kinda like this secret, yet publically acceptable narcotic that can allow us to keep functioning, yet all the while, numbs us out. And then, we miss out. And, maybe even worse, the world misses out on us. The world needs you. The people around you need you. We don't want the distracted, exhausted you, we want the alive and vibrant and true you. So, do you want your best self? Do you want others to experience your best self? Maybe the first step before stepping into your schedule is finding you.
We gotta lay out our calendar. Our world has a lot of good experiences to offer and we have to make choices – choices that will bring out the best in us, in the people around us. Choices that bring value and life to our souls. We have a calendar on our fridge. It helps us visually organize our lives. We start with the most important and non-optional obligations...family time, date nights, guy/girl nights, daddy/mommy time, fun time, and then we fill in the optional options. Our over-arching themes are consistency, fluidity and flexibility – a rhythm that can sustain and complement the family that we are, in this season. As “really good” invitations arrive, like sports and classes and playdates and fun stuff – the extra stuff – we look at our week and month and make an effort to discern which additions would potentially disrupt our rhythm, and which additions are doable because it could enhance our short-term and long-term well being. We have to make choices of what to step into, commit to, based on our needs and abilities.
Have you ever thought about asking God what he wants to do in you each season, each semester, each year? I deeply believe that he longs for our spirit to be at rest. He didn't create us to be machines, the energizer bunny, or people who jump through hoops trying to make everyone happy. He designed us with strengths and gifts to offer the world his love, through us, not to run ourselves ragged in an attempt to be the “good” Christian, the perfect parent, the over-achiever. He wants us to live into our lives in ways that we can know more of him and in ways that allow us to be known by him. Living stressed and over-committed and anxious will only move us away from our original design.
So, step back, get perspective, and take some time to evaluate you, your schedule, your ability. For some, living God's best may mean stepping away from some really good and fun and stimulating opportunities. For others, it may mean stepping into opportunities that will engage you in what's good and fun and stimulating. Whichever way you choose to move, may it be in a way that allows you to live your life fully awake, so when your alarm goes off in the morning, you can trust that what you've committed to or signed up for is worth doing, and worth doing well.
Life...it's not something we have to do, but get to experience.
Carissa Woodwyk is a wife, mother and marriage and family therapist. She is also co-author of Before You Were Mine: Discovering Your Adopted Child's Lifestory. She enjoys speaking on relationships, marriage, identity, adoption and the human heart. She and her husband have two children and live near Grand Rapids, MI. Connect with Carissa on her blog and on facebook.