By: Katie Choi
This little Friday slot felt like a new and constructive thing to do for a couple weeks. Call me naïve, ignorant, whatever you will, but I was under the guise of thinking this would be about a month or so gig. Then, we’d move on and go back to “normal.” Sheesh, whatever that means now. Instead, we find ourselves still navigating and figuring this stuff out. I’ve tried to reiterate and encourage that we are all doing this differently and for us to pay attention and listen to ourselves. Believe me, I am in the weird right with you. But, grace abounds. Again, I want to cling to that, but I also want to pay attention and be thoughtful. Learn and grow, whether it be big or small.
There has been something from a book that has stuck with me since I read it last year. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown is advertised as a “guide to wholehearted living.” That little blurb might sound gimmicky, but this book was truly sincere. There was a part in one of the chapters that talked about how the author and her husband sat down and intentionally made a list of things that they do when their family seems to be thriving. This week I went back and reread that part, and it was just as good as I remembered it to be. Better even, more timely. Brown explains this all very well so here is an excerpt from her book.
“Steve and I sat down in 2008 and made a practical list of the things that make our family work. We basically answered the question, “When things are going really well in our family, what does it look like?” The answers included sleep, working out, healthy food, cooking, time off, weekends away, going to church, being present with the kids, a sense of control over our money, meaningful work that doesn’t consume us, time to piddle, time with family and close friends, and time to just hang out. These were (and are) our ‘ingredients for joy and meaning.'”
This speaks into my heart. Accepting the fact that we are living in the strange, I have mixed feelings about things opening back up, beyond safety reasons. During this time my life has felt simpler. Take out all the emotions and all the unknowns, responsibilities have lessened. I want to cling to certain things that we have done in these days, and I want to fight against bringing other things back. When I read that paragraph in The Gifts of Imperfection last year, I think I read it with the attitude of yeah, must be nice, but not really thinking that I could be counter-cultural enough to fight against the busy buzz of life. It feels like I really underestimated both my and my family’s willingness to be intentional about this.
I was emailing with a friend and coworker last week, and she seemed to share in this sentiment also. She said it well by sharing, “I think it takes eliminating a bunch of things to really take inventory of what matters to you most. That’s the essence of minimalism- removing the unnecessary to make room for the things that matter most to you in life. I think this virus is causing most people to remove a lot of things and have time to reflect on what is important to them.” There’s some wisdom in that.
So, I want to put my money where my mouth is and act on my good intentions. Ben, my husband, and I are going to talk through this. Maybe you would consider taking some time to be thoughtful about this too? I have yet another wise friend who is a local pastor and licensed counselor, Kelly Wright. We meet and talk through things from time to time. Last week, she sent along some questions for me to consider. I actually was telling her about this part from Brown’s book so she thought these might help me actually execute. I think they could help you as well so take a look and consider.
What have you found life-giving about your days?
What have you found life-taking about your days?
In what ways has your life been simplified?
Has there been a scripture that has anchored you?
What are five things to discontinue that were part of your life before quarantine?
With these questions, Kelly also shared this scripture from Ecclesiastes 3:1, “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the Heavens.” I love that, and to me, that gives me freedom to know that the answers to these questions or to the items on the list Ben and I come up with might change over time. So allow yourself that freedom too. I am praying with you and for you and wishing you peace.