Thursday, December 22, 2016

Peace: The Second Light of Advent


When I think of peace, for the last few years I've thought of the peace I experienced during Ladybug's surgery.  It truly was peace beyond understanding; I had never heard of any parent being that calm during surgery, and I haven't met anyone since with the same experience.  

And while I'm grateful for that experience... it's time to move on.  Because peace isn't something you just need in the midst of a crisis... it's something you need on a daily basis.  Because it isn't the big things that wear us down... it's the day to day stuff.  

So I've looked back on that experience in Dallas to see if I could somehow replicate that peace in my daily life.  How did I manage to have such peace while my daughter's skull was taken off and broken into pieces?  And the ultimate reason was that there was nothing left for me to do.  

I was completely incapable of doing anything for Ladybug at that point.  Thousands of miles from home, there was nothing to clean.  Stranded in a huge city with no vehicle and little money, there was nothing to make.  I was confident that I had found the absolute best surgeon in the nation at that time.  I'd prayed and prayed, and people all over the country were praying, so what was the point of praying more?  

There was nothing left for my perfectionism to do. 

In daily life... closed fists, clinched jaw, lack of peace seems to be my lot.  I am a perfectionist, although to look at my house you wouldn't think it.  But the state of my house is a symptom... because, if I can't do it perfectly, I just don't do it.  The concept of just doing a small piece of a task is foreign to me.  I can't just start putting together a budget binder; first I have to do a detailed analysis of the previous 12 months' spending, have every bill charted with its averages, minimums, and maximums, have every bill I've received in the last year placed neatly into a folder in chronological order with the details plotted on a separate sheet of paper... Doing 15 minutes of work on something without that being enough time to finish it? Crazy.  Starting to organize without having plenty of pretty colorful bins to organize into? What's the point?

And when I start something, and then make a mistake... start exercising, but miss a day... start eating healthy, but then eat a cookie... I give up.  Cause I've failed, so what's the point? I obviously can't do it right, so what's the point of trying?  It's hopeless. I'll never change.  I'm destined to be the person I don't want to be. 

This year, I was fortunate to join a study of The Search for Significance, and much of what this advent video said reminded me of what I've learned through that study.  That we don't need to do more to be acceptable to God, that it's not about trying harder, being perfect... it's about accepting the gift that God has given us.  And that Jesus is the source of peace, because He was perfect.  He's already accomplished that so we don't have to. So I don't have to. 

I sat and watched a section of my Christmas tree go dark last night.  I looked up when the bottom of the tree suddenly glowed much brighter, and realized a lot of lights on that strand had gone out. But the ones remaining were very bright... all the electricity that had been dispersed through all those bulbs was now going through a third of the original number. But it was too much, and it wasn't long before those burned out, leaving a section of the tree noticeably dark. 

And as corny as it may be, I thought of myself.  My answer for last year was to try harder.  I'd dropped balls, and 2016 was going to be the year I managed to juggle everything.  So I sat through goal setting videos and had my notebook full of detailed goals.  I was burning brighter.  

But it was too much.  And I was trying on my own.  By the might of my own perfectionist willpower I was going to handle it all and turn my life around. Till I lost the notebook. I burned out. 

Now, a wiser person than I might have opted to just rewrite her goals.  Nope.  Not I.  I needed to find that notebook.  Eight months later, I still haven't found that notebook.  And rather than working towards what I remembered of those goals, I gave up until I found that notebook. Which means I've gone pretty much nowhere with my goals. I went dark.  

I find myself in similar messes as I was in this time last year.  I'm overcommitted, again. I'm not being as intentional as I need to be with the kids, again.  I'm not being the wife I want to be, again.  My finances are a mess, again. My house is a mess, again.  I'm not drinking enough water, not exercising enough, not eating healthy enough, again. 

Why?  Because I had to be perfect, and I had the perfect system, and I lost it.  So clearly, it wasn't the perfect system, or else I wouldn't have lost it! 

But I don't have to be perfect.  Jesus already achieved that.  And if I focus on the truth that I'm already deeply loved, fully accepted, completely forgiven... that can give me the courage to just start, even if I might fail, and when I fail, I can try again. I'm never hopeless... And I can have peace. 

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