ChristyP sent me a link at just the right time for me yesterday. The post, from a blog I'd not seen before (Steady Mom: On the Journey toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood) is short enough that I'm just going to repost it. Here you go (permalink here):
A few days ago I sat down in the morning, per my usual routine, to make my daily to-do list. As often happens, there were more items to do that day than there was time for the doing.
Anxiety and overwhelm began to threaten me, though I tried to ignore their taunts.
Still the nagging thought kept creeping back, "How exactly am I going to get all this done?"
Suddenly God whispered to my heart. What He said surprised me, changed my outlook, and altered the entire direction of my day--of all my days. He said,
"Choose peace over productivity."
Peace is the goal of our days.
Peace is THE goal of our days.
At the top of your to-do list, write it - Peace.
If anything tries to threaten your goal, it gets crossed off immediately. Don't worship at the altar of busyness and allow the very heartbeat of your family to suffer.
Let me spell it out as a reminder for us all:
Laundry isn't more important than peace.
Cleaning isn't more important than peace.
Homeschooling isn't more important than peace.
The family budget isn't more important than peace.
We're better off getting only one thing done in an atmosphere of peace than crossing off multiple tasks weighing fretfully on our shoulders. I know, because just this morning I forgot the lesson already, and paid the price by handing over the mood of our home. It wasn't worth it.
What will our children remember when they leave our homes--how busy Mom was or how joyful she made them feel?
Choose peace over productivity.
Yes, this is nothing new. Yes, this is absolutely a message I've heard before in one form or another and attempted to assimilate. Something about the way it's put, though, makes me want to tape it to my bathroom mirror. Well, I'll do the next best thing and stick the blog in my RSS reader for a probationary period to see if she says anything else I like!
She has a followup post, on What Choosing Peace Does NOT Mean:
Here's what choosing peace does NOT mean:
- staying in your pajamas all day
- reading blogs when you should be playing with your kids
- feeding your children chicken nuggets every night
- spreading piles of laundry around the house
- leaving dishes to pile up in the sink all day
- ignoring your children because you just can't take the bickering anymore
[cough, erm, yeah]
- letting mess accumulate while you chant "I'm peaceful, I'm peaceful."
Choosing peace does mean:
- That people are more important than tasks
- That you have adequate expectations of yourself, depending on what season of life you're in
- That you try to stop what you're doing to look your children in the eye when they interrupt you...
We will not find peace at the end of our to-do list. That effort has a name: striving. It promises peace, but in the effort required it steals the very promise away.
This is one of those things that I, personally, need to be reminded of again and again and again.
Once for a friend's wedding shower I gave her a little hanging tile, made up of mosaic bits that spelled out, "Peace begins at home." I was thinking mainly of raising children "peacefully" at the time -- I think my oldest couldn't have been more than two -- I was still developing my style of discipline (aw heck, aren't I still?) and I'm sure that's what I was thinking about, about raising kids nonviolently in an atmosphere of love so that they wouldn't grow up to perpetuate senseless violence. I wasn't at all thinking about serenity in the home in the moment. Only about somehow engendering "peace" there and sending it out into the world to do its work.
Even at the time, I'm not sure that "peace" is the word I would have used, precisely, to mean what I sought then and what I still wish I had. (I thought it was a good choice of word for what my friend would want, though.) It is too worn from overuse, especially in world affairs; connotes too much the relationships between and among large groups of people, and not quite enough the relationships between individuals. Connotes for me, too much, the state of avoiding conflict rather than the state of dealing productively with conflict or even the state of living blissfully without conflict.
"Peace" isn't, I think, the name of the thing that is the goal of my days. However, either Steady Mom and I are both longing for the same thing, to which we choose to give different names, or else her reminders are bound to produce both peace and the thing that I want.
I'm still not sure what word would be better. Maybe I am just looking for "love" in its active sense.
Anyway, I'm going to mark this blog and read more.
UPDATE: Melanie responds with a very insightful post. Go read!