Our family has been tremendously blessed by hand me downs. Due to this and to generous gifts from our families, we have rarely had to buy clothes for any of our kids. Recently when I was doing the dreaded switch of warm to cool clothes, I came across this shirt in my daughter’s bin. (Quick side note: before you have kids, everyone talks about the horrors of potty training. Why does no one ever mention about the hours that you will spend changing out clothes every season? While I am glad that I do not have to buy a wardrobe for my 4 year old, when it comes time to sort through all of the clothes twice a year, I am not quite as thankful!) Anyway, when I told my daughter that we would not be keeping this particular shirt, she was a bit sad. I told her that the saying on the shirt did not reflect reality – it isn’t all about “me” for any of us. “But mommy, it is all about me when I am cleaning my room.” (That sounds like a lovely sentiment – when will that be happening? 🙂 ). “And it is all about me when I am in my Daddy’s arms.” Now that might be true, but since the shirt doesn’t say all that, dear daughter, that doesn’t work for me. I had put the shirt aside to dispose of it and came across it this morning as I was cleaning. As I looked at the sentiment again, I feel like God was challenging me to recognize that sometimes I do live as if this shirt is true.
I have never liked to miss out anything. When I was younger, I was always on the go and was involved in many different activities. When I got married, I definitely slowed down a bit – my husband needs to have time away balanced with time at home. And that has honestly been a good thing for me. Add 4 kids to the mix, and I have to say “no” far more than I say “yes.” God has been showing me that maybe I have been feeling a bit resentful about this.
I am a planner and a scheduler and maybe also a bit of a control freak. Right now we are in several different circles (church, MOPs, homeschool groups, etc.), so the opportunities for activities seem to be endless. And overwhelming. God is showing me that I need to be thankful for the possibilities that come our way, but that I also need to learn to prayerfully consider each event and determine if it is a fit for our family. When an event does not seem to work for us, I need to be able to let it go, rather than trying to cram another thing into a full life. I also need to learn to still feel positively about that event, to pray a blessing for it, rather than pouting or being mad, that all was not able to go MY way.
Last spring our church women’s retreat ended up being planned for the week-end of my son’s March birthday. I really wanted to go still. They had made the cabin reservations the summer before but graciously tried to change the retreat to another week-end where none of the ladies had a conflict. No luck. They encouraged me to just come out for the Friday night activities and just to leave first thing Saturday morning to be home for the birthday. But I knew that it would be hard on me to just be involved in part of the retreat. So I stayed home. Did I miss out? Sort of. Did I want make the other women feel guilty for enjoying the time without me? To be honest, yes. Me, me, me, me, me! Even though I knew that I was doing the right thing, that there would be other retreats, and that my son would only turn 7 once and that me not being there would be a bit noticeable, it was still hard to miss out. Still hard to feel left behind.
I wish I could say that week-end was a turning point for me in learning to let go of missed opportunities in a positive manner. But it wasn’t. Many events have taken place since then where our family has had to sit them out, rather than join in like I hoped. I have tried to rearrange events, so we could “do it all!” And usually it hasn’t worked, thank goodness! But even though I know in my head that I can’t do everything, my heart doesn’t seem to get the message that while a little disappointment is okay, feeling resentful or bitter is not acceptable.
Sometimes for me to ask if plans can be altered slightly is okay. But sometimes I need to just let the event go AND be okay with that. Either way I need to respond with graciousness. Not with pouting (internally or externally) about the fact that life just isn’t going my way. Even though I have not been physically wearing an “It’s all about me me me” shirt, God has shown me that I have been living with that attitude lately. Ouch! Just as I threw out the shirt, I want to throw out my selfishness. I have a feeling that this is going to be a lifelong process!
Events will continue to come my way that are not possible. Many times I will need to pick what is best for my family over what is best for me. And many times other people are going to plan what is best for their family, and it may not always be what is best for mine. Many times I will need to go along with what others want and let go of my plans. And I need to recognize that sometimes I do not need to adjust, I just need to miss out. The thought God is leaving me with is this. By choosing to miss an event sometimes, I am actually choosing to not miss out on peace. And rest. And times of togetherness, rather than rushing around. I will NOT be missing out if I seek out the events that are God’s best for me and for my family and let the rest go!