It’s been a minute since I wrote anything for anything other than work. To be honest, I’ve never felt less qualified to share wisdom/insight/anything in my whole life. Why? Because I’m 100% NOT rocking this COVID home-school, work from home, social distancing life. (Ok, yes, I am rocking the social distancing – it may surprise you to learn that I am, in fact, an introvert, and this time has given me a golden opportunity to polish my inner hermit).
I always said, even long before I had children, that home-schooling was my idea of a nightmare. Even so, I kind of thought, somewhere in the back of my hopeatorium, that actually I would discover a natural aptitude for it and find out that it’s surprisingly rewarding. Well that bubble has been well and truly popped. I hate it. I actually hate it. There’s not many things I hate – that awful yawn-sigh people do, reggae music, loud eating noises (I should probably just get permanent earplugs) – but home-schooling is right up there.
The thing that’s so difficult, is that because those of us here in our part of the States have had the kiddos home for a solid 8 months now, my margins are paper thin. I normally gird my loins for the 3-month summer break, and begin to morph into Harriet the Haggard by the end. And this is 2.5 summers, with no clear end in sight.
When we have no margins is when issues that we are able to keep below the surface with rest, regular moments of respite, relaxation, socialisation etc. rear their ugly heads. For me, this means that I revert to my inner child a lot of the time.
The little girl that wanted to please the teacher and gain her constant approval, is now the parent of a kiddo whose schooling she is overseeing, and she really wants her kid to do well in order to appease her quest for affirmation.
The little girl that learned it was desperately important to get things done within a self-imposed timeframe, is now trying to force a seven-year-old to finish up his schoolwork within the same arbitrary window of time.
With the constant stress and pressure of life here in US right now, it feels like every unhealed part of my soul and every unchallenged erroneous belief is simultaneously running the show and beating me up.
So friends, if you’re feeling like me right now – and I know so many of you are, let’s join hands and start to do the things we need to get through this very challenging phase. For some of us, we really need to ease up on ourselves and our kiddos. For others of us, we need to choose a daily rhythm at this time that allows for a lot of extra space. Maybe we need to call a friend just to tell them that we’re not okay. Maybe we need to choose a regular meditation/prayer practice. Maybe we need to go for a walk around the block every day. Maybe we need to stop and realise that although no-one (except maybe the tech gods) are winning in the shit-show that is 2020, we are learning lessons and facing trials that have the potential to forge gold within us.
So, to all the other fellow humans in the trenches right now (even those with their masks under their noses), I give you my biggest smize, and raise my arm in a weary salute to you. You are loved, you are not alone, and you’re going to get through this. And so will I – albeit with a new cavernous depth to the frown lines between my eyebrows.
Love you friends,
(Originally posted on Sheology.co)
If I’m to be honest, I have an ambivalent relationship with dreams. Second only to my dream of being the sixth, only female (and spectacularly mulleted) member of New Kids on the Block, my very greatest childhood dream was to be locked in the local Foodtown Supermarket overnight. While other kiddos were counting sheep, I would lie in bed at night and plot my route from the choccy biscuits, chips, pick’n’mix, fizzy drinks and chocolate bars. Needless to say, neither of these dreams was ever realised, and my childish dreams gave way to the more realistic dreams that maturity brings.
The most heartfelt dream I ever possessed was that of being married. My mum got married at 20, and for some reason I had my heart set on also getting married at 20 (Spoiler alert – I did meet the love of my life and got married one month shy of my 29th birthday). I remember a preacher once saying that the gap between expectation and reality is tension – and each year that passed my ideal age of marriage, the tension and sadness within me grew.
The problem was that my dream had turned from the proverbial dangling carrot – something providing hope and motivation, to a whip that taunted me with reminders of my inadequacies, failures, and inability to control factors which were outside of my control. I got my priorities out of order, and gave my dream the power to make or break me. In many ways, my dream became an idol and sat in the place in my heart reserved for Jesus.
We live in a cultural climate where oftentimes our hopes and dreams are given the same sort of gravity as the quest for the Holy Grail. In some circumstances it is even considered noble to sacrifice everything – our relationships, obligations and moral code, in the pursuit of our aspirations. Yet, when we allow the pursuit of our dreams to surpass our pursuit of Jesus, they become the breeding ground for dissatisfaction and blind us to the joys of the present. I could kick myself now for allowing myself to waste so many of my child-free, care-free, responsibility-light, and time-rich years wallowing in the misery of my singleness.
Taking a moment to get a little curious about what is driving the pursuit of our dreams is an excellent way to ensure they stay in healthy perspective. The answer to the following question can bring us huge insight: “When this dream has finally been realised, I will feel ____________.” Because when it comes down to it, a lot of the time that we are chasing ‘dreams’, we’re actually chasing a feeling. We want to feel accomplished, vindicated, satisfied, secure, loved, smart, acknowledged, happy, settled, or any combination of a million different feelings. It’s not bad to want these feelings, heck, I certainly do! We just run into trouble when we look for any of these feelings from a source other than the complete love and contentment that is offered to us in Jesus.
The feelings that come to us when a dream is fulfilled are lovely, but ultimately temporary. When we see a dream realised, we enjoy the feelings for a while, but the underlying need in our soul is only temporarily satiated, and it gets hungry again – so off we go in search of a differing feeling/dream in the hope that we will find a more permanent satisfaction.
The beauty of putting our quest for Jesus above our quest for anything else is that He has the resources, ability and desire to meet our deepest needs. When Jesus is meeting the cry of our heart, our dreams are free to become a life-giving, motivating, colourful and enchanting part of our story.
And in fact, I have discovered that when I am chasing first Jesus and His Kingdom, he provides me with the fulfilment of dreams that I never even knew that I had. One beautiful example of this is my job writing for a counselling app – not only would I never have dreamed that a job like that even existed, I also get to work from home, helping people from my kitchen table, while earning enough to pay for lovely little luxuries (like holidays to New Zealand) for my wee family. Jesus, in his kindness, knows better than I do what will feed my soul and light up my life.
It’s best to remember that our dreams are there to serve us, not enslave us. So, friends, let’s put our dreams in the correct place in our priorities, and allow them to put the icing on the cake of our lives of pursuit of Jesus. Because he will never leave us empty, or dissatisfied – He will fill us with the contentment, satisfaction and joy that we are seeking.
Love you friends,