Bad Mornings, Good Days

A few days ago, a friend linked to an article called “You’re never going to get your $h!t together (and that’s ok).” (It is a bit sweary, if that bothers you.) It’s a good article, but I’ve been ruminating on just the title for days. She is talking about stuff-togetherness in the big picture of life; I’m more thinking about feeling on top of things in the day-to-day.

I can summarize my thoughts with one observation: my days tend to start well and end badly, or start badly and end well.

Let me explain. I love getting things done. A small sense of accomplishment feeds my soul delightfully, whether it’s doing the laundry, having a clean house, working out, or cooking a nice meal. I can be pretty driven and focused, even though the stuff is small and inglorious in a worldly sense.

Case in point: I-cord button bands.

That sense of accomplishment is good. I’ve started reading a little bit about choice theory, and it made me realize that a basic need for a sense of power in one’s life is legitimate. And how wonderful to be gaining the focus to do a small, unnoticed thing well. But I’ve noticed that when my days start with those successes, it’s not enough. I want more. When things are going well, that I have my stuff together, it becomes more difficult for me to let it go so that I can then turn my heart towards people. It becomes harder to really listen to my children, to lay my productive priorities aside to be with them, to make time and space to reach out beyond my home to others. This inevitably leads to my spinning my wheels, trying to find more space for my own productivity, while my kids spiral out of control, and we all get very frustrated with each other.

By contrast, when my days start with frustration – the kids are grouchy first thing, or I can’t get a thing done before noon, or meal planning falls apart, or I just have a bad mood day – those days get me on my knees. I remember that I have to let things go. I remember that my brokenness is what I have to offer, not my togetherness.

I actually need to NOT have my $h!t together in order to do the most important work of my life: loving the people around me.

When I am weak, I see that Jesus is strong, and he is there for me.

When I remember that I am lost, I allow myself to be found.

It’s good to work hard. Loving my family includes taking care of our physical need for good food and our psychological need for a beautiful space. But I trip myself up the moment I forget that the purpose of all those practical accomplishments is loving my family, and helping our family love our community, and that they need my heart even more than my hands.

I’d rather that I learn better how to submit to God first, and so have my priorities align themselves properly. But I’m not there yet, and maybe never will be. Another way in which my stuff might not be together for a long time.

But I’m learning to take a deep breath on the bad mornings, and quietly look for grace. It’ll probably be a good day.

“Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. … Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, in whom is no variation or change.” James 1:2-3,17.

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