The word “crunch” has been rolling around my head this week…
Getting outside your life for a while can help you see your life differently. We spent two months out of the country this summer which gave us lots of time to consider how we have been living – and how we want to live differently. We came home with new resolve: to use more effectively the hours in each day (get up earlier, read/write more, spend less time with screens, etc); to shop locally, farmers’ market preferred; to line dry our clothes (pending the installation of a clothesline); to slow down, set boundaries and live with greater simplicity… Better than New Year’s resolutions, we had by necessity practiced living this way for two months, and so we began the process of implementing things we had learned abroad into our life at home. Cognitive dissonance, a little like culture shock, can be a very good thing.
But sometimes, it seems, it doesn’t matter how great your intentions might be, nor even how great your desire to live out your intentions. Life happens.
We’d been home just over a week when the Guy and I sat down to talk through our calendars. We keep one very colorful Google calendar so we both have access at all times to the Big Picture of our family’s life together. It helps, but it can’t solve all calendaring dilemmas. We were shocked to realize that our family of four has no weekend in September when we will all be home. We have an afternoon, maybe an evening, each weekend, but no whole weekend. The crazy thing? Most of these things had been scheduled for us: work events/retreats, school events, + other likewise mandatory events. The calendar also included a few fun events because, thank God, we had scheduled them before summer began.
I could almost feel the breathing room getting sucked out the open window…
And then my job – oh, how I love my job (most of the time) – exploded. Despite months of advance planning, I faced a seemingly impossible, inflexible and looming deadline. Perfect storm, all my go-to helpers were wrapped up in other totally unanticipated and completely occupying monster projects.
After a full day of meetings, at the time I should have been leaving, I entered an empty office, shut the door, and slid to the floor with my back to the wall. I prayed. I had my gym bag in my cubicle; I have been trying to prioritize healthy habits. I could live this day like I’d hoped but then I would surely miss the deadline. I took a deep breath and mentally released my gym date. Crunch!
Feeling “spirit fatigued” (a new-to-me term by creativity guru Danielle LaPorte) led me to succumb to the chocolate old fashioned doughnut in the workroom. Healthy habits, crunch!
Driving home hours later, after our normal dinner time, I longed for familial comfort and joy. But honestly, the guys were grumpy company. Crunch!
I finished dinner alone and got back to work, albeit in the comfort of my bedroom recliner. Family dynamics followed me and loud arguments unleashed. On a walk-about to clear my head, I noticed that the dinner dishes had been left for me to clean. Really? Crunch!
Later, I found a spider in the bathroom. Normally, I would call one of the guys to deal it (maybe a little too creature-friendly, they catch-and-release spiders), but I felt done with them for the evening. So, ew, yuck, crunch!, there went the spider.
I worked until I had to sleep, and then got up early to work some more. I cancelled all my morning appointments and worked until I met the deadline, against all odds and by the grace of a few divine appointments. Seriously, miracles, random people coming through with just what I needed to get it all done.
In the eye of the storm (oh yeah, more was coming), I found myself with an unexpected quiet part of an hour. Waiting for Tween to finish an appointment, I sat in a shaded area of a parking lot, windows down as summer duked it out with impending fall. Reminding myself how to unwind, I tried to lose myself in a book for a few minutes. A slight breeze joined the elements’ fray and, as my ears tickled, I looked for the source of the sound, a crunch, almost like pebbles falling through a rain stick: crisp, yellowed leaves rolled across the asphalt, crunching the way beneath them.
Their crunch was so lovely, so natural, so gentle, in sharp contrast to the harsh crunches that had landed on my mind and spirit over the preceding hours and days. They took me by surprise, brought me out of myself. They recalled for me the gentle whisper of God’s Spirit, blowing wherever it pleases. God had surprised me that morning with whispered reminders of His presence. Here was another, a few moments’ respite and encouragement that storms don’t last forever. Indeed, seasons change.
This season sits uncomfortably on my soul. I don’t want to live anxiously through each task, knowing eighteen more await. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything nearly so well as I’d like. Something’s gotta give and, for now, it seems it’s me – my priorities, my health, my family. Ugh.
And yet… Tween and I read Jesus Calling for Kids this morning. The day’s reading exhorted that, though sometimes we feel wobbly and overwhelmed by everything on our plate, God is our Strength and our Song. He is with us no matter what, in times when the rhythm beats a bass drum crunch and others when it’s a dixieland band parade joyfully syncopated crunch. Either way, God wants to be our Strength and Song if we look to Him.