Friday, September 12, 2014

In Praise of a Small Life

Sometimes I want to feel like I have made it big (whatever that means).  As much as I believe it's all about the journey, there are moments when I want to realize that I've arrived somewhere.  I fantasize that I would like to be known, when the little bits of recognition and affirmation I receive lead me to crave it on a larger scale.  What would it be like to get that kind of attention on a regular basis?

I know it's not exactly appropriate for a minister to desire these things; I should be a humble servant of God and others.  But last night I dressed up and went to a fancy dinner.  There was wine and good conversation and names I recognized.  I thought, "I could do this."  I can be somewhat social in these moments, and I'm not afraid of speaking in public.  The spotlight is not so blinding and the stage is not so very high.  The praise goes to my head and I think, "I could be a speaker."  Perhaps one day I will be touring and sharing about my book.  But the inner critic reminds me that to get there, I would actually have to be working on a book.  Meanwhile, there is the work that I am paid to do (which blessedly I love), a calling that takes me in a different direction.  There are my kids who are growing so fast and are at the age where they still want me to be involved in their events.  I want to be there as well, and it is a gift to be able to be present with them at their school and activities.  But it is a sacrifice in other areas.  There is more gray in my hair every day and time keeps moving ahead even when I feel behind.

I've been having more conversations lately about work-life balance, about the pull between career and family. We have been told we can have it all, but it rings false when you're playing the juggling game.  What if we don't want it all?  There is so much already, good things, but there can be too much of a good thing.  Perhaps we can have it all, but not everything will be in balance at the same time.  It's a shifting scale that is simply exhausting at times even though I'm grateful for all my gifts; I'm grateful for the ability to choose a lifestyle that many have sacrificed to earn and many have not yet achieved.  I am only here because of the work and support of those close to me who make it possible.  There are still things I have to say "no" to in order to say "yes" to what is necessary and important.  I made my choices years ago, but I'm learning they are choices we make each day.

So tonight I finally felt as if I had arrived, but it wasn't at the fancy dinner.  I arrived when I came home to my cozy house with my sleeping kids and my husband waiting up watching football.  It was when I took off the painful high heels and got into my comfy pajamas that I felt like things were as they should be.  It was in thinking ahead to the weekend with the promise of some Sabbath time and maybe some books that I found fulfillment. Sometimes bigger is not better, and sometimes fullness is not about lots of activity but the peace of fully engaging in what truly matters to us.

Sometimes I just want a small life.  I want to be known.  And suddenly I realize that I have it made.

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