Saturday, October 19, 2013
How NOT to find sanctuary (#31 days to Sanctuary day 19)
It's somewhat ironic that I write about finding sanctuary as if I'm some sort of expert. It would be more probable for me to write from the perspective of how NOT to go about it. I'm a type-A recovering perfectionist with two children who don't cooperate with my OCD tendencies. I want everything to match the plans and pictures I have in my brain, but reality rarely plays along. I should be more understanding when my kids can't handle deviations from routines because I'm made of the same stuff.
I think I seek sanctuary because it's so antithetical to my makeup. I crave it because it's not part of my frantic mind. I know what it takes to find it (slowing down, caring for my soul, and making space for activities that connect me to God and others), but it goes against what I feel like I SHOULD be doing (people like me really "should" themselves to death). It's also so counter to what others expect of me. Just in the last few minutes, I've been interrupted from writing to be notified of when my son's milk expires, to view my daughter's writing of the word "one", and to debate over exactly how many shrimp must be eaten before the promised trip to Dairy Queen. I know it's really my issue for thinking I could squeeze in a few minutes of "me" time in a day completely devoted to their needs and interests (and yes, my self-indulgent snarkiness is very anti-sanctuary).
These "interruptions" are the source of my greatest frustration, and yet, this is life. It's also par for the course in ministry, where interruptions are often true crises that must be dealt with NOW, never mind my to-do list. I realized today, though, after intermittent bouts of impatience with my kids that I was erroneously thinking that it's all about me. I was irritated that they wouldn't allow me a moment to think my own thoughts or indulge in my own wants. I remind my children that life is not all about them and they must take others' needs into consideration, and it hit me that this is also true for me. Their interruptions are not (always) an attempt to drive me batty, but a way of sharing their needs and a way of drawing me closer to them.
When I structure my day in my head, I'm thinking about what I want. When that gets altered, I get annoyed. But what if I changed my perspective? If I put the phone down, put off the writing until I truly have time for myself, and focus on what's in front of me, I have a much better chance of finding sanctuary. Living in the "now" and being present in the moment are big components of contentment, and when I'm more content, I'm better able to listen and connect with others. I may even be more open to listening to a report of what is happening in the sixth Harry Potter book from the boy who likes to update me page...by page...by page. I can hold my girl close and work on reading word...by word...by word, realizing there will be a time that they won't want to monopolize my time (and I will probably be saddened by that). And maybe I'll start to realize it's truly not MY time after all. Sanctuary is about connecting, and that involves reaching out beyond myself. God commanded God's people to observe Sabbath as a reminder of their connection to God...a relationship that is best acknowledged when we stop doing all the meaningless stuff that zaps our attention and energy.
If admitting you have a problem is the first step, perhaps I'm on the road to sanctuary after all.