Sunday, December 6, 2009

And on the Seventh Day…

Okay, it’s only my sixth day. Nor do I expect to take any breaks on this 90-day adventure. However, I figured there’d be times I’d have to resort to old material and this is one of them. It’s a poem I wrote when the kids were very little, I was still working full-time, and I was over-involved in a church congregation with a perpetual parking-space deficit.

I have been extremely deliberate in the past five years to commit myself sparingly, and really to scale back on every front so that I can enjoy a simpler life and be more present to my family. I was doing fine until this fall, when I bit off a huge chunk of church commitment again. It’s not quite as bad as it was—I’m not teaching Sunday School and running the Christmas Program and serving on a Council Committee and singing in choir and picking a big political fight about the Sunday morning schedule and welcoming children in worship. Or, at least, I’m not doing those last two things…which is an improvement! And, of course, I'm not working full time outside the home, which frees up quite a bit of time and energy.

In any case, this poem comes back to haunt me when my commitments (with a little help from PMS) start to turn me into a crabby witch. I can look back on that ego-driven mad rush to do it all and remember that none of that is what Christmas is about. And maybe, just maybe, I can be more deliberate about keeping life simple and enjoying each moment.

So without further ado, here’s a salute to the self-serving over-involvement on which I used to thrive.


Song of the Overinvolved

I don’t know why I thrive on stress; I think I should enjoy it less.
But every time that someone asks, I hear my own voice saying, “Yes.”

It doesn’t, then, occur to me, I'd also heard myself agree
To several other tasks that will, together, cause insanity.

It’s only when it’s after eight and I have stopped to ruminate,
I realize the mess my acquiescence did, in part, create.

I settle down to plan things out, confident, without a doubt.
And at that calming moment, my son wakes up and begins to shout.

Of course this wakes my daughter up, and I put down my coffee cup
And spend an hour getting both my precious darlings to shut up.

By now, I have to go to bed, or in the morning I’ll feel dead.
I leave the list unfinished with a vague but growing sense of dread.

At the office all next day, I cannot push the thoughts away
Of choir, nursery, ministry, the talent show, the Christmas play…

That night I swear I’ll get things done, but when the first task’s just begun
My daughter calls out “Mommy, more hot milk, please,” and I’m up to run.

By Saturday, I’m panicking. Why DID I say that I would sing?
And what about the cookies that I promised my class I would bring?

The concert program cannot wait, and then there’s prep for Lesson 8
Of COURSE my rotten children choose THIS STUPID NIGHT to stay up late!

Sunday comes, ready or not. I’m half asleep, my nerves are shot.
We’re late again and there’s no space left in the stupid parking lot.

I’m singing notes I cannot reach, and oh, that’s right, I have to teach!
Heck, why don’t I just tell the pastors I’ll stand up in front and preach?

By God’s grace, well beyond my ken, I make it to eleven-ten
And swear I’ve learned my lesson and I’ll never over-plan again.

But as I’m walking out the door, I’m asked, “Could I get your help for…?”
And think, “Well, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to do just one thing more…”

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting - I wrote a blog post today focused on the sentence "our troubles are basically of our own making". You can read it here if you'd like:

    Enjoy! :)