Archive for the ‘work’ Tag

Be Strong   Leave a comment

I don’t know about you, but I would never choose to be someone with weaknesses.  Like most people, I have spent a great deal of effort to do things well.  I always assumed that I would be able to do all the things I planned when I was twenty years old.  I thought that strength was something that the blessed always had.

But what I have found is something quite different.  Despite my best efforts to be strong, I have found myself to be weak.

I don’t have the energy and ability to do all the things I thought I would do.  I have had to learn to approach each new thing from a place of weakness.

Something I learned recently has been helpful.  “Be strong” doesn’t mean that you just are strong.  It doesn’t mean you’ve made yourself be strong.  And it doesn’t mean that you have to work hard to somehow get to that fever pitch of strongness that will see you through whatever your challenge is.  Apparently when this phrase is used in the New Testament, the meaning is, “because you are being made strong.”  This truth makes a verse that I have always tried–and failed–to live up to, make a lot more sense.

What I am living now is the reality that “be strong” means I’m being made strong.  That by definition means that I’m starting out the opposite.  I am starting from a place of being unable to live strong.  I’m starting from a place of weakness, a place in which despite my best efforts, I cannot do the things I need to do on my own.  Everything that I do in a given day is because I’m being given the strength to do it.  There is no way on my own I could summon up what I need.  It does take courage to keep doing the next thing when it seems too hard to do.  However, I suspect that courage is also a gift.

I can’t help but wish that I would experience the opposite situation, where I hope to be able to just live my life without thinking about where my strength comes from.

On the other hand, it’s not a bad thing to know where your strength actually comes from.

Posted April 2, 2020 by swanatbagend in reflections

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Faithfully   Leave a comment

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions about ten years ago.  While I know they can be a useful motivational tool for some, they mostly seem like a source of jokes for pastors around the end of January.

When I was younger, I did have lists of goals I wished to achieve, personal goals that is, ways to make myself better.

And, there are areas in which I’ve matured.

I’m making some progress being more patient with other people and myself.

I’m making some progress with keeping control of my temper when pushed to my limit.

I’ve become a really good cook over the last thirty years of cooking!

But there are quite a few other worthy goals that I haven’t been able to achieve.

I also have found that no matter what area I improve, flaws pop up in other areas.  If I work on being better organized, some other aspect of home life begins to suffer.  If I combine errands to town, which include paying for the car tags and going to the butcher shop, I realize the next week that I was supposed to renew my driver’s license and I should have done that when I was there for the car tags.  I’m not a calm, capable parent when things are going crazy.  I haven’t written that book yet.  And no matter how hard I try to remember it all, I’m starting to lose bits of information from my mind and forget things that affect other people.  It’s quite embarrassing.

There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot I can do about these imperfections, because no matter how hard I try, there’s always some way I fall short of my goals.

I have realized that I must learn to be content to live faithfully–as a failure.

It does matter that I am faithful.

But it also means my worth isn’t based on my progress, my efforts or my performance.

Posted September 25, 2019 by swanatbagend in identity

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More   Leave a comment

At many points throughout my life, I have wanted to do more.

Whether I was genuinely motivated by a wish of my own or an original idea, or just looking on at what other amazing people had accomplished, the emotional results were the same.  I read about a five year old who started her own non-profit to bring hot lunch to the other children in her school.  I observed the faithful and amazing way a woman I knew wisely and lovingly parented her children.  I admired local entrepreneurs who started their own brewery in an abandoned church.  I saw a doctor friend both parent her children and further her career.   I scratched my head in amazement at the knowledge and skill required to found and run a company like Google or Tesla.  I gathered from the vibe in my culture that I was supposed to have a paid career and that my at-home-ness was an odd aberration that better childcare options would make unnecessary.

At times, the observations I made about what other people were doing left me with the sense that there was something wrong with me, that the work I found joy in was too little of a contribution, that I should somehow be doing something more or something better.

Should.

Be doing more.

Be doing better.

Then I saw an ant.  It was doing what ants do best.  She was seeking food for her sisters.  She was removing obstacles from the doorway to her nest.  She was cleaning her antennae.  She was sprinting along the sidewalk.  She was crunchy, streamlined, tiny, formed of amazing minuscule parts, but perfect.  She was beautifully pursuing who she was made to be.

She wasn’t trying to pollinate flowers.  She wasn’t feeling disappointed because she couldn’t get her abdomen to light up every night.  She wasn’t attempting to migrate to Mexico.  She wasn’t sunk into despair because she could not stride rapidly past into the upper distance like those giants who shake the earth.

My conclusion is not that challenging aspirations should not be pursued because they are too difficult, or that there is an underclass of people who aren’t good enough to deserve meaningful work, or that a specific gender is responsible for all childcare and it’s immoral if they escape their homes.

Rather, there is no need to think we must do something better or something more or something else that someone outside us says we should be doing.  We can move forward following the leadings we’re given.  We can trust that who we are is enough.

 

 

 

Posted December 1, 2017 by swanatbagend in identity

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Mine   Leave a comment

I find many of the greatest frustrations I face involve projects or meetings or relationships which don’t turn out the way I have in mind.  When I have a project, I want it done right.  I have a vested interest in making it work well after all, because my name’s on it.

Maybe you’re a gardener.  Perhaps you’re having a real problem this year with Japanese beetles destroying your roses and blackberries. You’re doing everything you can to get those pests off the plants.  But the outcome is iffy because there are so many of them!  Your yard doesn’t look like you want it to and you’re the one who has to figure out a solution.

You may be walking your child through some new era in his life–getting ready for the college application process, learning to drive, overcoming a mental health issue or navigating hurdles at a job.  You’ve put uncounted months and years into helping your child.  You have a major interest in the outcome.  And you want that outcome to be one that is good.  Bottom line is, you feel responsible.  After all, this is your child.

Here’s where I think the English language falls short.

 

Can you think of a word to replace “my” in any of these phrases?

My house

My garden

My project

My ambition

My work

My child

My career

My health

My life

 

I haven’t been able to think of one yet.

What other word should there be, though, when I am the one doing the work to maintain the health, well-being and success of any of the above?

 

The problem is that I have confused responsibility with ownership.

I’m not the owner–I’m just the steward.

 

Posted July 18, 2017 by swanatbagend in identity, reality

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