Empty – or Full?
Some days I walk into my office, sit down at my desk, fire up the computer, and then ask myself, “What do I need to do today?” Often, my mind’s response is . . . blank. Not helpful. So in an effort to just get started somewhere, I pull up the week’s Sunday School lesson on the computer screen, read through it, and prepare to send it out. (We use The Wired Word, which is distributed via email each week.) I look at the email list and one of the names reminds me of something I had promised to do earlier in the week. I run downstairs to take care of the task and meet up with Sharon, who is bringing me a copy of the bulletin to proofread. We talk for a moment about office odds and ends.I begin scanning the bulletin for typos as I slowly walk back upstairs. Seeing the bulletin reminds me of that ever-looming task – the sermon. I pull out my notes to see where I left off. I remember that Patty, the choirmaster, had asked me for more information about the series I’m doing. I need to compile some of that information for her. I really should do that now. I turn back to my computer to type out the information, only to see the Sunday School lesson, still unsent, there on the screen.
Okay, let’s count the unfinished tasks: emailing the Sunday School lesson, the task I promised a class member, proofreading the bulletin, writing the sermon, information for Patty. Five tasks in less than 30 minutes. Imagine what a whole day can look like!
I’ve made a commitment to work at least five days a week on my writing. Often I write for my blog. It isn’t the most important end product I have in mind, but it is an effective tool for developing discipline and skill, as well as networking with others. Other times I work on a bigger project – a compilation of some of the personal essays I’ve already written along with some new material. Still other times I dabble in a little storytelling of the fiction kind. With all of these projects in process, you would think I would never have a hard time finding something to write about. You would be wrong. Often the blank screen taunts my mind, which is also blank except for the one thought, “You have nothing to say!”
Okay, let’s count the topics I cover: parenting (the good, the bad, and the ugly), my kids (three of the most interesting people I know), family and family stories (of the endless variety), the challenges of parenting and ADHD (also of the endless variety), faith and life, ministry, body image, claiming my voice, being real, running, these half-formed stories that roll around in my mind . . . Okay, let’s not count. There are too many.
Some days life is hard. I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders: the well-being and security of my family, the well-being of my church, pastoral care needs, administrivia, housecleaning, laundry – loads and loads of laundry, bills to pay, a yard to mow, errands to run. It feels overwhelming and so, so heavy. I ask myself, “Where’s the joy? Where’s the fun? Where’s the upside to all of this?
Okay, let’s count my blessings: three happy, healthy children, a healthy body, a roof over our heads in a good neighborhood, a church full of amazing people, a family that loves me scattered across the Southeast, some of the best friends a girl could ask for, this amazing coastal landscape that takes my breath daily with its beauty, a ‘homeland’ in the Upstate (also beautiful) that gave me my roots and holds a piece of my heart, the silly puppy companion that makes me smile – all the time – along with his funny feline friends, hobbies and passions that make me happy . . . Once again, too many to count.
I’m seeing a pattern here. When I ask myself “What do I need to be doing? What do I have to say in my writing? What do I have to be thankful for?” and my mind goes blank, it isn’t because the answer is “Nothing.” It’s because the answer is “Everything!” I can’t always form the response in words – not because my life is so empty, but because it is so full. It’s more than I can handle to keep up with it all. Some days it is all I can do to catch hold of even a few of my blessings that pour out around me. I am a very happy, very blessed, and very full child of God.