When good possibilities seem endless, how do we discern what choices to make? How can we approach these periods of joy and hustle?
I sat on the patio looking out over my year. Instead of the dead grass and growing weeds, my eyes focused on the three folding tables covered in paper and pencils, surrounded by children. They sat, intently listening to a gently soft-spoken and methodical teacher, guiding them in a Toucan’s portraiture. A three-year-old toddler sits beside his big brother, scribbling on paper, imitating one of the “big kids” as surely as art imitates life. A little girl motors on a push car through the art class, bumping the teacher’s legs before her mother retrieves her.
Beyond the tables, in the giant mulberry tree, swarmed a group of boys less interested in art. They climbed, they swung, the created the typical brouhaha as one male student looked on longingly, wishing to join the fray.
With a group of mothers, I sat, sipping water, exchanging homeschool-curriculum ideas, asking questions of the veterans among us. On the table, I set a vase of dahlias, the only successful flower grown in the garden beds of our new house.
Surveying the activity, I sense in my heart, this is why we live here. I aim to host more classes, more parties. My husband continues construction on his music studio to teach more students, offer classes, maybe even host a music lounge.
Life feels full and good.
It is only when I look at my calendar or a phone call breaks into the navigation around children at home, or when I manage bickering children during a work event, that I feel flustered. It is only when my toddler wants to keep “calling me” on the rotary-style phone or I get carried away editing my website or scheduling speaking gigs when I should be focusing on second-grade math, that life feels, maybe, just a little too full.
Then the phone call ends, the appointment is scheduled, the article turned in and I sit back and think how good it all feels.
I took the advice to hold onto the life-giving things
and say “no” to the extras that sap the energy required to do what I must. I looked for ministries that fed my soul as well as offered something to others. Our reasons to homeschool were enough motivation to build our daily grind into an obstacle course. The job was a dream job. I came home excited and stimulated from book club.
“Discern with your feet,” I told a young mom. You keep on walking the path (the path itself determined by your principles and priorities). There will be bends in the road that are neither good nor bad. They do not go against your values, beliefs, morals, responsibilities or commitments. How do you decide what to take on or what to put aside?
Tuition, informed by reason, helps. You keep stepping forward until you feel the thing is not right.
But what happens when everything seems good, fitting, fun and fulfilling?
I do not know.
Because this thing I experience is a rarity.
All I know is I take it on with a willingness to let it go. This may only be a season in our lives, just as our period of crisis was but a season.
Usually, there are more limitations imposed by commitments, time and ability. Those parameters often guide our decisions more than anything else. Next January we will welcome one of those blessed limitations. I have no idea how the rest will change. It will not be until the time comes that I will be able to discern it, practicing this method of discerning with my feet.
I believe in planning. I believe in being prepared. But I have also learned through the trials of life the glory in being detached from our routines, expectations, even the work we do. In an instant, it can change. The instant may be tragic or terrific, but I have found our willingness to love the moment while we have it, and let it go when it leaves us, to be one of the greatest tools used to experience the joy offered to us in this life.