I am pretty sure that I said “no” to pretty much all activities this summer to make it free for playing and family time.
Then I got fed up with my kids lack of desire to do anything fun besides sit in front of a box with pictures that flash in rapid succession, and we took a June challenge to stay off the computer and television, and you know, do other stuff.
This has actually been hard on me. It has been no picnic. Not only are my children detoxing, but I am detoxing from having this easy thing to turn on and make them be quiet. Actually I think that the detoxing has been worst for me. Now I have to do stuff like discipline them, and put away my work and writing and knitting and come up with stuff for them to do.
I don’t mean to sound like a baby. I did that stuff anyway. I just gave myself breaks. I haven’t been getting breaks. Knut has been so proud of me that he’s stepped in and sent me off to see a friend and put the kids to bed one night, and has offered to stay back from parades and trips to camp so I have less than 5 kids with me all the time. We’re both having to pitch in more.
I wish I could say that it’s been glorious and I never want to bring the t.v. back, and this is the best. This has been hard. It’s been a crucible. I get frustrated when any goals I have get put on the back burner, and everyone else’s needs are attended to. I’m human like that. It’s my struggle.
As I said “no” to most busy activities, somehow I’m running to town sometimes more than once a day to get the kids to where they need to be. I’m constantly running. It doesn’t make sense to me. We aren’t in that many things. It just grows like yeast. You just add a few activities and and the commitment just grows.
And yet, as I walked to our mailbox the other day, and saw our gardens which are looking better than they ever have since we’ve lived here, and I thought about my massive spring cleaning of the house which has made cleaning attainable most days, and has taken the constant cleaning stress away from most of us, I should be happy. I should have all this time now. But I don’t.
I wonder when I’m going to stop striving after things that don’t bring joy. Sure, the Kon Mari book that I read and ended up loving many parts and it has changed the way I manage my household (for the better, and that cannot be overstated), as much as she talks about keeping only things that bring joy…joy does not, and hasn’t ever come from things.
I have not gotten joy from my gardens. They’re fun. Don’t get me wrong. I look over them and still just see work, even though they are so clean and tidy this year. I love strawberries. They make me sigh and groan and shiver with delight. But it’s not the same thing as joy.
I get joy when I give thanks for my garden. I get joy when I see my garden as this enormous gift.
I don’t get joy from a clean house. I still see stuff to do. Sometimes the more I clean, the louder I get as a mom. The more I push my kids and nitpick. I love sitting in a clean room at the end of the day, and it does relieve stress, but it doesn’t bring joy.
I was contemplating this as I was getting ready for bed the other night, that I’m actually more “caught up” with life than I have ever been and yet I don’t feel any happier. I still struggle with the same things I did before. My words drifted back to Ann Voskamp’s that have haunted me ever since I read her book.
Joy comes in the thanksgiving.
I took my own list of 1,000 things (only at #270 over the last year or two, but slowly growing). I put my journal of thanks away for a few months, and I brought it back out. Just 1 or 2 moments a day that I added to my list as ones I was extremely grateful for.
The joy returned. That’s the miracle of it.
The joy doesn’t come with a cleaner home, tidier gardens, more/less kids, more work done, or fulfilling a dream, although those things can bring other elements to your life.
Joy comes in thanksgiving. It’s when we remember what God has done, and is doing in our lives. It’s forgetting what we think we need, and giving thanks for the daily bread that was already provided.
It’s where the striving ceases and the eyes are opened to what he has done. I think that this world is bent on trying to distract me from this, or maybe it’s just the brain I was born with. It’s so simplistic that joy isn’t something you obtain, or you earn. It’s not a sticker chart completed or a field planted. It’s in seeing what is right in front of your eyes, and letting it drive you to worship. In that worship, in that thanksgiving there is joy.
Have a lovely day friends.