Sunday, April 3, 2016

Lessons from the garden, when it is ok to quit…

So I have turned 40… I am now firmly in the adult category of life.  Gasp, maybe even in the old category of many peoples’ minds.  I now no longer get mistaken for a college kid regardless of how silly I am acting.  At best mid 30’s is what I get when people guess my age.  I call people in their twenties kids and remember when there was no internet or cell phones.  That is all ok, I am glad to be alive, breathing and joyful.  However despite having reached adulthood or adulting, as some people use the noun turned verb, I am still learning how to grow up.

Crocuses in my front circle bed… yes this is before it snowed on them a couple of days later.

One thing that I learned at a young age was to clean my plate, finish a task until satisfactorily completed, do the whole assignment including extra credit, and finish the whole book even if it was boring... anyone else picking up a theme here?  I wholeheartedly agree that the self-discipline I learned following these rules was invaluable to my character development, but what happens when a task is never completed?  Stubbornly sticking with it until the bitter end regardless of circumstances is not always the healthiest path to pursue and also not one that I believe intended by my parents’ instruction.

Idea for a T-shirt for the program…  don’t you draw while eating dinner?

I have been involved in a volunteer situation for several years now that does good work.  I would even say the Biblically sound and noble work of feeding the elderly and poor among our community.  This program is a blessing to many.  However, over the years, T and I have come to realize that the way the program is run and its goals are not in line with our vision of service.  Fear of disappointing the gentleman in charge, my stubbornness and feeling guilty about wanting to quit something that seems to be a positive program has held me captive for years.  Quitting is bad, quitting something that seems this good is even worse.

Conversations with a dear friend have repeatedly brought up the idea of being LIFE focused.  Asking myself the hard question of “Does this (action, thought, feeling, task, etc.) bring LIFE and joy to my soul?”  This is not asking myself the question of, “Am I currently having fun?”  Not every task is fun, for example I don’t consider doing dishes or making dinner a preferred job, but those tasks should bring life into my life.  T would definitely agree that making him dinner brings life to his body.  Choosing to be joyful in the mundane tasks brings the fun.  I have encouraged volunteer groups that I was leading that we can make shoveling manure fun; it’s all about choosing to enjoy the circumstances.

Maple trees are in blossom…  leaves will come later.

LIFE, rather than just having fun, is something that at the end of the day brings about a positive energy to my being.  Difficult things can bring life to my soul just as beautiful things do.  Being engaged in a challenging situation does not mean it can’t bring life to my soul through the experience and what I learn.  However, staying in a challenging situation that is not providing me with life giving experience is not promoting my wellbeing.  It is a tricky thing, this sorting out when a situation goes from a good learning experience to a negative impact on my soul.  Perhaps dreading engaging in that situation or with a particular person is a good indicator.  Knots in the stomach and resulting digestive issues would definitely agree with a “not life” label.

Completed… the program didn’t choose to use it siting that it was too generic,
but I still think it would make a fun T-shirt.

So, growing up means that I get to make decisions for myself (with the help and in agreement with my husband of course) and that I am responsible for the feeding and care of my soul.  Just as I am learning to capture my thoughts and examine if they are positive and uplifting, I need to do the same with the situations I allow myself to be present in.  The more value I am learning to treat myself with, the less inclined I am to want to be with people who do not seem to treat me with respect.  I am blessed that I have a choice of where and with whom I volunteer for.  If this were a paid position, the choice might have more variables to ponder but that should not hinder a careful deliberation.  After taking counsel and encouraged to quit by my husband, I decided to end my involvement.

Sometimes it is easier to stay in a negative but familiar situation because change is hard.  A local hardware store has quotes on the bottom of each page of its weekly ad that usually follow a theme.  While struggling to make this decision I came across this quote that I found very encouraging.

“Change is hardest at the beginning, messiest in the middle and best at the end.”  Robin Sharma

True, very true, but once it is done, I know it will be worth it.  I am still in the messy middle dealing with statements of how my actions are disappointing and hurtful.  While I have apologized for the hurt and disappointment I have caused, I am not sorry for doing what is best for my soul.  I am choosing to engage in LIFE giving experiences and places I feel truly welcomed to share the talents and gifts I have been given.  This is exciting actually, and I am looking forward to new possibilities to share joy.

A hand written blessing that I included in a friend’s baby shower gift.

So, a short list of things I am quitting or in the process of trying to quit:

  • Saying mean things about myself that I would never ever say to another person, even if they deserved it.
  • Focusing on only what is to be done yet and forgetting all that has been accomplished.
  • Keeping objects due to a sense of guilt because someone gave it to me or it was expensive.
  • Keeping a plant that is not worth the upkeep just because I grew it.
  • Allowing guilt to make decisions for me.
  • Not trying for fear of failing.
  • Letting other people’s opinions or actions determine my self-worth.
  • Making really long lists….. just seeing if you were paying attention.

In the end, I am forty and unlike Moses, I don’t think I have another eighty years to live so I am choosing to live and enjoy life to the best of my ability right now.  That means choosing LIFE!

Spring is a time for new beginnings… 

1 comment:

  1. I am so tearfully, joyfully, blessed by this blog post. I'm so glad you are learning to see yourself in light of God's Word, how He sees you, and how those of us who love you, see you! My beautiful "War Maiden" continue to fight the good fight and live life to the fullest! Love & Hugs from your Mama!