Monday, December 6, 2010

Over thinking the mundane

This morning didn't start well in the Britton household. The boys were up at about 6:00am, after going to bed at almost 9:00pm last night. This makes for 2 tired and cranky boys. We all pushed through the breakfast routine, then onto the get-ready-for-school bit. Included in that part, is gathering of dirty laundry, making of beds, and cleaning up rooms. (The cleaning up rooms part is always funny to me to do in the morning, because see, it's also part of the getting ready for bed routine. I'm never sure how there is so much to clean up after being asleep all night. Oh right. It wasn't done super well the night before, that's why this is part of the morning too. Duh.) Because of the tired and cranky spirits that were my sons this morning, coupled with the fact that they never clean super well .... it just wasn't coming together today. I somehow convinced myself that if I just kept ordering them to clean with a louder and more firm tone, that surely they would eventually hear me and follow directions. WRONG. I think I managed to just crush their tired and cranky spirits, along with the other sweet parts of their spirits...not to mention give myself a soar throat. Big fail for mom.

The kids left for school and I already felt defeated for the day. I looked in on their rooms with not an ounce of patience left, and just felt like crying. Will they ever get it? Will they ever put the toys back, and hang the coats, throw away the trash, and make the beds? (If my parents are reading this right now, they are laughing, I'm sure, exclaiming a resounding NO! NO, THEY WON'T!) I get that they are young. I get that my standards are higher than they should be for children of their age (sometimes). I get that I need to give them grace where they are at. I get that I need to continue to expect them to be responsible for their things, while being a servant leader in showing them how. It's that last part that hit me when I was standing in front of their rooms.

Being a servant leader. Huh.

Every couple of months, I do a major overhaul of the kids rooms. I dread it, but it has to be done or we'd have scrap paper and craft projects flowing out the window over a matter of time. I realized this morning that it was time for this to happen again. I just didn't want to do it. I loathe doing it.

Enter in The Gospel.

I stood there realizing I needed to "preach the Gospel to myself" on this one, or else the rest of the day would continue in the pattern of this mornings events. But how? What does the truth of what Jesus did for me, and continues to do for me, have to do with my kids lack of ability to clean? It took me about 2 seconds to put it together. Here it is.... cliche as it may be ...

How often is my heart in a bigger mess than my kids rooms? How many times does God ask me to clean it, and instead of cleaning, I shove everything under the bed? How many times do I say I like my mess, because if I were to put it away, I'd just get it all back out again anyway - so I may as well leave it out? (An argument my kids have actually tried to use with me.) How many times do I just flat out ignore him? How many times do I go to clean my mess, only to just sit there playing in and making it worse instead? Then Jesus, in a way that only Jesus can, comes in and cleans it out for me when it's just too much for me to do myself. Every now and then when He's done, I realize that things went missing that I may never miss again, and other times that I desire to have my mess back. Every time, Jesus is laying down his life for me. In the mess of my life - Jesus died for me. He served me. He made me white (clean) as snow. He gives me grace for where I am today, while guiding me in how to do better next time. He gives me victory, and he forgives my failures. And sometimes he even lets me live in my mess, as much as it bothers and hurts him. Thankfully, not for very long.

So this is what I'm choosing to do today for my kids. I will be a servant leader by just doing it for them. They will come home and see how it should look. It will serve as a template for the next time their dad asks them to, "make it look like how mom had it." (I love hearing him say that to the kids. It works for about 2 days, but still....) I will die to my selfish and angry spirit that says this isn't fair. It's not my mess. I will love my children by sweeping through their mess. I will apologize to my sons this afternoon. I will remove some of the problems (aka: crafts and broken toys) knowing it is better for them to just have less (thus less to clean). I will do this for them because Jesus did it for me .... and does everyday. He cleans up after me more often than I realize.

I know. I majorly over thought the mundane. Aaron will come home laughing at me, I'm sure of it. But mom's, I'm gonna encourage you with this ..... sometimes pushing through the mundane means over thinking it a bit. We're called to have joy in all we do. How often do you have joy in the mundane? Hopefully often. But when you feel the other extreme (as I did this morning)....over think it. Remember what Jesus did for you, and how it relates to the task before you. What do you need to over think today?

If you really want to talk about it - you can find me in the kids rooms.

***Afterthought. So, mundane is kinda a big word for me. I went to to make sure I was using it in the right sense. I began to giggle as I read the definition. :
1. of or pertaining to this world or earth as contrasted with heaven; worldly; earthly: mundane affairs.

Messy rooms contrasted with heaven. Yup. I used the word in the right sense. Not sure I've ever used a word more properly. :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thank you. No. Thank YOU!

Someone told me thank you today. She was thanking me for something that I did for a group of women. She kept telling me thank you. After a while, out of her mouth came - "You're welcome". All of a sudden, I thanked her. Then it dawned on me. She wasn't saying you're welcome because I was needing to thank her, she was saying you're welcome because she was instructing me on what I should have said to her.

See, here's the thing. I don't receive compliments very well. Stranger still, I love compliments. What in the world is wrong with me? I've known this about myself for a while. I've even had it pointed out to me by a few people over the years. It usually involves my singing. Someone tells me how good I sounded, or how they enjoyed my voice. I smile awkwardly and either walk away or try to find a way to tell them it wasn't that great because I messed up that one note. 

Today was almost laughable to me though. Never have I had someone stand there longing for me to accept their compliment to the point of instructing me in what it is that I should be saying to them. Maybe laughable isn't the right word, but since I'm all about awkward responses, laugh is what I'll stick with. 

So I had to wonder why. I think about this every now and then, just not very often. 

You know that song, "She don't know she's beautiful"? That's the story of me and Aaron. He tells me I'm beautiful. I laugh at him. Someone tells me I sing well, I nod and cringe and say thank you to them. Someone tells me how great I am for adopting kids, and I try to not to throw up on them. Someone notices something I've done, and I try to find an escape. But why?

I have no clue. I know I'm not the only one that responds this way to accolade's. Most would say it's because I don't have a healthy view of myself. Maybe they are right. But what I always come back to is this: credit is not being given to where credit is due. (Aside from Aaron telling me I'm beautiful. Perhaps I'll go with the common response on that one.) 

See, what the world sees me doing - singing, cooking, cleaning, adopting, teaching, counseling, opening my home, giving .... whatever it may be .... I'm not doing it for anyone to see ME. Confession: of course, I've been guilty of wanting to be noticed. I have done it for me before... more often than I care to admit. However, the rest of the time, my heart in doing what I do is because of what HE did for me. Everything I have, everything I do, every  effort I put forth is to pour out His love to those around me. I don't think I'm super gifted in any one area. I think I do a lot of things okay. Sometimes I wish I just did one thing really well, but this is me. I do lot's of things half ... well... you know. But I do it because I've been given the resources to do so. And with those resources, I want to honor the One who gave me them to me. 

Knowing this doesn't necessarily help me understand how to receive compliments. Actually, it doesn't help me at all. I remember one time hearing someone say that when people notice us, we should respond with - "all glory to God". There's a time and a place for such a response, but it's not often that it is that time or that place. So what about the rest of the time? How are we supposed to accept such gratitude's? If I just say "you're welcome", my fear is that it comes across a bit cocky. ("Of course you should be thanking me - you're welcome to have benefited by my greatness.") But today's scenario must have been a complete opposite - perhaps to the point of annoying the one complimenting me. She had to tell me how to respond to her. And I still don't think I ever said, "you're welcome".

I just don't want people to see me. It's not me. If it were me, I wouldn't be doing it. I'm too selfish for that to make sense. So then how do I say "your welcome", or "thank you" while acknowledging that such an act of service came from something (someone) outside of me? 

But then my brain can't help but wonder .... I compliment people all the time about the great things they are doing. Why, when I acknowledge someone, do I focus on the good that they did, rather than finding a way to exclaim how great God is - and that I saw that through what they did- through how they served Him. Maybe compliments would be easier to swallow then? Maybe.

How do you handle compliments? Do you receive them well?