A little note: This month I am hoping to write down some of my heartfelt thoughts I have been having about the importance of being present and intentional in the home. I’m treating this series of posts as a sort of advent of the heart and hope you will read along and share your thoughts too.
And to start–I wanted to talk about why I think the look of a home–a pursuit that can become a prideful and wordly thing at times–can also impact and reflect things that really matter.
To me, a woman’s inner life and the way her home looks are connected.
Let me explain. The truth is, I just don’t think we as women can outrun ourselves or our feelings when it comes to our homes. Maybe you’re like me, and some days, when you look around you feel frazzled. The beds are made, but the dishes are undone. The floor is picked up but the toilets haven’t been cleaned in a month. Some days you just have to leave in order to feel like you can even breathe and then somehow you realize you’re in Target buying a candle that you subconsciously think is going to make it all feel better. And then you get home with all of your bags of stuff and realize it didn’t actually fix anything.
In fact, you feel worse.
I know that I’ve been there. It almost makes you want to cry when you walk in the door, doesn’t it?But then, there are also the other kind of days. The days where your house feels so great, so right that you might literally feel warm inside (and then with any luck, you also manage to take a nap to complete the epicness of the day). On those days our homes are a haven and for me, I can feel my outlook on everything improve. It’s amazing how affected we can be by our environments, isn’t it? When I don’t take the time to be intentional about what is going on in my home, I feel out to sea, un-moored, scatterbrained and unsure. And I think, whether we realize it or not, that every single day is like that–we are all of us affected by the state–physical, emotional, and otherwise, of our homes.
So, in light of that thought, I present to you a humble proposition: something that has been working for me lately. When I start to feel myself running around in that sort of stressed, half-aware, half-anxious mode where I am just picking up random things or saying head swears at my kids for all of the socks that never make it past where they kick them off, I try to stop. Physically stop. I make myself take some deep breaths (it’s probably a cliche because it’s true, right?) And then I force myself to be present in that moment. I look around myself and take in the sunlight from the windows, or the sound of the washing machine whirring–something physical that will bring me back to the moment. And then I will try to grab something to write with. In the past month I decided to place a small pad of paper on the table behind my couch and a bucket of pens so that I can easily grab both. But it’s not just to make a to-do list. Not exactly. Instead, I take a second to really think of the task that I am most likely avoiding. I’ve come to realize that when I’m acting scattered and stressed, it’s because I’m probably procrastinating something I don’t want to do. Think about it. Do you do this too? It’s ridiculous and dumb, isn’t it? When you find yourself in that space, instead consider asking yourself two questions: 1. How long will that avoided task really take? Is it less than five minutes? If it is… stop what you’re doing and do it. Right now. Do not pass go, do not collect a Target candle. (though it pains me to type that)….
But seriously, once you’ve done it, let’s be real. It probably took less time than you thought AND…I bet you spent more time worrying about it than it took to accomplish it. Am I right?? (Please tell me I’m right and not the only one neurotic enough to actually do such ridiculous and illogical things).
If, however, your avoided task would take longer than 5 minutes, or you don’t have five minutes to spare right now, then you must ask yourself the second question: 2. Would it be ok if you just let it go for a while? Be honest with yourself. Will it bug you? If so…see step 1! If not–Give yourself permission not to care. Try it out. What does that feel like for you? Can you actually give up the guilt and move on with your day? Can you see it as a gift for yourself and then be happy with your gift? It’s a good gift, you should.
In reality, I don’t think it matters whether you’re a busy career woman or a busy mom woman, or a busy career mom woman–there will always be more tasks than there is time. And what do we women do? We tie, with thick, knotted strings, a huge weight of guilt to every task set before us. And why? Oh man, why do we do that? And what we must do to fix it is so simple. Because God also, in His wisdom, gave each of us the the gift of a little golden pair of scissors in life called choice. And you can take those scissors and snip one string of guilt and another string, and another, until as many of those weights are gone as is necessary–until you feel light again. Until all that is left are the things that are essential.
I think you may be as surprised as I have been by this practice. You may be surprised that guilt and distraction are problems that we often give to ourselves. And equally as surprising–we can let them go. My hope for you, and for me, this season is that we choose to let those weights go. That we will snip those weights off, and be free as we move forward in the work of our lives and homes. It doesn’t mean that everything will be perfect. But in my life, it has freed me up to be open to joy, flexible with circumstances, and have greater patience for the inevitable pains and griefs that come with life. I think you will see yourself, and your home, in a new light. And by then, it won’t be a bad thing if it’s coming from your new Target candle.