I’m thinking March might be a good time for me to “go green,” to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Now, I’m talking about something more fulfilling than turning a plastic cup into a leprechaun craft, something any homeschooling mom can do in her sleep. It’s more complicated, more personally meaningful.
A good friend and mentor inspired me when she asked, “If money were no object, and you could do anything in the world, what would you do?”
In a second I ruled out the obvious:
- cuddling with Hubby on the sofa; traveling together; watching endless, first-run episodes of “The Good Wife”
- enjoying my children; reading aloud favorites on that same sofa; taking weekly field trips that don’t involve bugs; doing our Mother’s Day walk every Sunday and not just once a year
- eating pepperoni pizza with extra cheese without gaining an ounce or spending a dime
Of course, spending time with Jesus went without saying; I’d actually finish the Bible in a year; join the choir; pray—and not just without ceasing, but without dozing off. All those things being said—or not said—if I could do anything…
I would write.
I’d script thank-you notes many wedding guests have waited twenty years for (consider this my heartfelt, written apology). I’d scribble in a month’s worth of lessons in my teacher’s book. I’d send e-mails my little people’s “Mama!” “I’m hungry,” and “I don’t understand…” interrupted. I’d follow through on those complaint letters I’ve mentally composed, voicing my dissatisfaction in fancy, perfect, rarely used cursive.
I’d pen long love letters to Hubby like I used to before life blossomed about us. I’d sign my name to a load of “just thinking of you” cards. Christmas greetings would no longer get pushed to Presidents’ Day. I’d text, private message, post a comment, and hash-tag to my heart’s content. Birthday cards? Check. Love notes on Valentine’s Day? Check. I’d even give “Happy Columbus Day” a shot.
And then, I would really write. Essays and devotionals. Novels and children’s books. Poetry, music, journal entries. Oh, and weekly blog posts. I wouldn’t just “like” Facebook posts; I’d comment. I’d give voice to all those thoughts that flit through my mind in the shower but dissipate with the steam.
It’s not that I wouldn’t pursue other directions in my life, not because they’re all good, but they’re all necessary—studying God’s Word, parenting, teaching, even sweeping the stairs. But if one day the rocks will cry “Jesus!” surely I can lift a Papermate pencil in His name. After all, He commanded His children, “Whatever your hands find to do, do it verily, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
Well, my “hands” love writing, a skill I use—however rarely—for His glory and my pleasure, just as He talks about in Matthew 5:15, 16. Just how do I take this “road less traveled by” a little more often?
I need to invest less time and energy on activities that others can do—in other words: delegate! I can deploy my army of little people to dust, slather peanut butter and jelly on bread, and build tower blocks with M&M. Sometimes Maven can listen to Brown Sugar read about what Dick and Jane are doing these days, and I can even turn a blind eye to Hubby who struggles to fold a fitted sheet or a towel into thirds. I can complete tasks in stages, unpacking boxes over time or investing thirty-minute chunks planning or brainstorming.
I can repurpose a few daylight hours for grander pursuits by not wasting time refolding Hubby’s towels. That carves out time spent writing. Sharing family chores keeps me from typing at 3 a.m. when I’m “weary, worn, and sad.”*
When I recycle my time I must truly, diligently convert that time into something reusable—once I crush a can, I can’t refill it with soda. If I dedicate to edit my novel, that’s what I should do. I can’t get distracted playing solitaire, watching “House Hunters,” managing sibling squabbles from afar, cleaning the refrigerator, or catching up on e-mail.
I’m reaping the benefits of doffing my micromanager hat even if I can’t completely retire it. Delegating certain chores serves higher, more beautiful purposes than I planned, like using a one-gallon milk jug for a flowerpot. My little people build trust and dependence—on God and each other. We develop a sense of responsibility—personally and as a group. It pokes a hole in the pride balloon—not one person can do everything. It’s definitely taking a village to teach M&M his colors and letters. Hubby gets to spend more time in the family hurricane—He can give the Crusader more manhood training before college starts and somehow learn how to fold sheets.
Consider your own skills, talents, dreams, or desires in terms of Matthew 5:15, 16. It could be knitting, reading, or beading. Perhaps you enjoy running marathons (why, I’ll never understand), eating 300 hot wings in 30 minutes, taking 15-minute power naps, or writing children’s curriculum. Maybe it’s interpretive dance, painting, baking, or music composition.
Whatever the gift, stop wasting it under cover of some elaborately woven bushel basket you designed in your spare time. Keep in mind Colossians 3:23, 24: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”
Go green, or go home.
*from “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” a hymn by Horatius Bonar