Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Too Gentle?

The other day I kind of got my butt kicked by the Holy Spirit at a Bible Study when the house mom took a strong stand for the importance of not slacking off in our personal time of devotion, something which I have told myself was okay I haven't done for the past several years.

Could it be that I am using gentleness and grace as an excuse for do-nothingism, procrastination and a lack of discipline, particularly in my spiritual life?

Is it really good enough to only read God's word when (excuse the TMI) I'm having a longer session in the bathroom?

Why not set aside a few minutes dedicated specifically to spiritual things? Why am I so resistant to the idea of a routine and a checklist of things to do each day? I seem to do much better with a loose order of events for the week and a relaxed attitude. Is that a flaw? Or just a different way to function?

I recently re-read portions of the Birth Order book and was reminded that First Borns are often perfectionists or "discouraged perfectionists" -- going through life with the attitude that I'll never be as excellent or ideal as I can imagine so why even try?

That way is do-nothingism and depression, which I feel I've moved past for the most part. A tip in Feeling Good to purposely set out to achieve 80% of perfection so I can be free to try has helped enormously.

But I'm still nagged by the feeling that I SHOULD still be shooting higher. That I COULD be achieving so much more. I COULD have a more well-run and organized household, if I would only try harder. I COULD write excellent blog entries and even creative short stories or a novel, if I would only spend more time on it. I COULD spend concentrated time delving into God's Word, in prayer and in pursuit of other spiritual disciplines, if only I would make it a priority.

The question becomes, if I try for excellence and only make it to great or very good, can I live with the disappointment of not really achieving my goal? Or if I try for good enough, and achieve that, can I live with the nagging feeling that I could have gotten to great or very good if only I had applied myself more?

Rereading what I just wrote, I see that there might be another way to think about this that I have been overlooking.

First, I may be putting too much emphasis on my own ability to achieve and make things happen and forgetting God's empowering grace. Second, so far I have limited my choices to 1) try for some impossibly high standard and fall short, or 2) shoot lower than I know I can achieve to ensure I will easily succeed. There is a 3rd way. "Great" or "Very Good" offers a realistic challenge that will be both realistic AND satisfying to achieve.

Now, to move past the generalities and vagueness and apply this to practical specifics in concrete areas of my life.

Spiritual Disciplines
My challenge is to spend 15 minutes wholly dedicated to spiritual discipline. I will do this by taking the first 15 minutes of Charlotte's nap, which I usually spend recording, to visit with God through reading the Bible or another spiritual book, praying or journaling or whatever other activity I am led to pursue. I will trust that God will help me find the time to keep up with my daily quota of recording elsewhere in my day.

Creative Pursuits
I will spend time (minimum 15 minutes) each day writing, whether in this blog, a journal, an idea pad, a story or critiquing another author's work. I will spend time each week practicing the piano.

Though it rankles, I will admit that I need help to do better keeping ahead of the clutter in my house and I will submit to the discipline of FlyLady. My mom was messy and chaotic in household management like her mother before her, so I need someone to teach me a better way to keep house. No shame in that, and I will take the necessary baby steps to keep improving.

Physical Fitness
I am proud of my success in this area and will continue to set aside time at least twice per week to go on long walks, preferably with my wonderful husband and daughter.


  1. okay, so today I did the spiritual discipline and writing part but realized that I need help moving on to my next task. To switch gears back to the recording work. My first idea is to set a timer (but worry that the beep may wake the napping baby). Any other ideas?

  2. I have read that a checklist and schedule help when trying to keep a clean/clutter free home. I have started to type one up, but I'm not using it yet!


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