I’m sitting here stroking the letters on my laptop, knowing what my heart longs to share, praying for this message to be translated properly into words.
Because what I long to say isn’t easy to share. It even feels downright scandalous today.
But isn’t that as it should be? God calls us to that which registers as scandalously radical to the world. The path is not an easy one for people pleasers like me.
I did the responsible thing. With plenty of time before the deadline, I registered our Elizabeth for ballet. Because I heard it often from other mamas there and saw it myself, how talented she is. A natural little ballerina. A natural grace about her that has always been. We looked forward to watching her perform in recitals over the years as her grace and ability matured.
When making such decisions I feel as though the weight of the world is on me as many mamas do, thinking of all the future implications of either adding an activity to a child’s schedule or withholding. I don’t want her to miss out on one thing God has for her. The mere thought of it is suffocating.
Nor do I buy the lie that a full schedule makes a complete life, though I did once. This hurrying around from one activity to another, this busyness has become a sort of idol today. We say it is for our kids and often believe it’s for their good, but as Ann Voskamp says, “the hurry hurts the kids. All our rushing ends in nothing.”
I’ve made the mistake plenty of times. I see the extracurricular activities as good (and they often are) and so I’ve signed up, without giving thought to what it will cost our family, without seeking the Lord’s will. Sometimes we need to say no to that which is good so we can say yes to something so much better.
Why are we afraid? Afraid to live slow enough so that there’s time for kids to be bored and imaginations to flow, time for us to have heart talks over a random baking session, time to gaze curiously at the path of the beetle, time for mud pies and long books read by that sunny window, time to knit and build a fort, time to soar like the wind on our bikes, time to snuggle up under the stars and discuss the greatness of God, time to pray together, time to laugh, time to love.
It almost feels scandalous.
“To make the time to love because what else in the world is time for?” ~Ann
Those who live simply live richly.
I felt God’s gentle tug to pray this through. Dan and I had talked about it. How we knew God was calling us to run from assuming, from blindly swimming along with the flow, and to seek His will in these decisions.
To hear His heart before committing. Then surrender. Then bask in the freedom it brings. Oh the peace!
We crawl into bed, hands held tight, once again praying and waiting for a response. My mind flutters around from one distraction to another as minutes pass. Then I study Dan’s face, as I often do at these moments, trying to discern if He is hearing anything. I detect a curve at the edge of his mouth and he looks at me knowing what I’m up to. I know by the light in his eyes that He has seen or heard something. And I bite my lip, eagerly awaiting as a child at Christmas.
He saw a large thriving tree. Then he saw someone mercilessly chopping it down. He had wondered why, asking God to interpret. Then he heard the Lord say that for Ellie to attend ballet last year was good and healthy. She learned far more than just ballet, and was stretched in many ways. And if that ‘tree’ is taken down now it can be used in building upon. A healthy thing. But if that tree is to remain then it would begin to deteriorate, to rot.
The answer is clear. To remain in ballet would not be what is best. We don’t know why nor do we need to.
We smile. Tears fill our eyes as we’re not only grateful for an answer, but we’re touched. Touched that this God who stretches out the universe has once again answered one of our seemingly insignificant questions as we’ve sought Him together. Touched that He loves our little girl more than we ever could, sees the beginning from the end and knows how it will affect her heart. The peace floods us both and we rest in God’s guidance, falling in love with God all over again.
How thankful we are that God is not some distant being, leaving us on our own to make these decisions. No, He is this ever present lover of our souls who knows the number of hairs on our head and is always at work within us.
“Sometimes doing the most important thing eternally – doesn’t look like you are doing anything noticeably.” – Ann
It’s another Saturday and like most Saturdays, we’re all here together, playing and working alongside each other. There’s a breeze rustling the tall shady oak trees and I hear her laugh as she swings, tossing her golden head back and flying forward. Joy that cannot be contained as we smile wide and our spirits soar.
And there’s this satisfaction that dives right into the deep places in which I’ve desperately needed his peace. And this peace flows and I can’t wipe the smile off. Peace because we have this ever present God who guides those who seek Him. And I can rest knowing we’re doing what’s best for her, because we don’t want her to miss out on one thing God has for her.
“In quietness and rest shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
“Simple living anchors a child’s soul and prepares the heart to know God.” ~ Sally Clarkson (and you thought it would be Ann) 🙂
disclaimer: Please understand that I’m not saying all extracurricular activities should be avoided. We have our son in fencing as well as all kids in Choir and AWANA on Wednesday nights. However, I do believe we should seek God’s guidance rather than just jumping in. There, living intentionally, we will find peace and meaning.