Saturday, January 20, 2007

Who's on First?

Ann Kroeker writes a blog which I enjoy reading. We were chuckling over e-mail recently that we seem to be thinking some of the same thoughts, and she commented, "Great minds think alike?" (I was honored that she assumed I have a great mind!) Well, it seems to have happened again. Today as I was reading her blog I thought, "This is exactly what I'm dealing with right now!"
She spoke of the conflict we face when we want to put first things first. For Ann and I, the struggle comes from wanting to put our families first, and our writing first, and our...You get the idea. There's a clash.

I'm coming to understand it really comes down to putting others first. I just finished writing an article about saying "Yes" to my kids more often. I won't re-hash the whole thing here, but the bottom line is I'm making a decision to say "No" to myself and "Yes" to them.
Funny how God gives us ample opportunity to put into practice the good decisions we make. That is, the decisions that cause us to grow, to say "no" to self, you know, the ones that go against our sin nature.
Just this morning I was sitting down to check my e-mail when my kids started asking me for things. (Did I say "started"? Check that, they started before I'd even gotten out of bed!) One wanted to invite a friend over, which I agreed to, but the friend couldn't come. Then they wanted to invite over the neighbor kids to play, and I agreed to that as well. It continued...

"Mom, can I have a snack?"
"What do you want?"
"An apple."

"Mom, can I have a snack?"
"What do you want?"
"A granola bar."

Hmmm, this saying "Yes" thing isn't really so hard.

"Mom, will you take us sledding?"
What? Can't you see I'm trying to get my own thing done here? Sledding is simply not on my agenda. I don't want to go sledding. I want to do what I want to do - not what you want to do.

Saying "yes" was easy when I could say it without having to put someone else first. It was easy when I could say it and stay in my chair, doing what I wanted to do. But one of the things I've decided to do is this: If I can't think of an unselfish reason to say "No," I'm going to say "Yes." And since all my reasons for saying "No" were clearly selfish, I said "Yes" to sledding.
My neighbor has her nieces and nephew for the weekend, so the two of us took two vans and nine kids and went to the local sledding hill. It was cold. It was icy. It was very cold. It was fast. It was a lot of fun!!!
Besides truly having a good time - enjoying racing down the hill on a piece of plastic with one of various kids between my legs - going sledding brought me joy. It brought me joy to say "No" to myself and to put my kids first. Those of you who've heard me speak at a MOPS group know I admit I'm a selfish person by nature, so it brings me joy to do unselfish things. It's almost like I'm winning a battle over the parts of me I don't like. (Take that, you selfish nature! Die!!!)
Now, if it were only easy for me to be unselfish. Ahhh, I don't think that'll be happening this side of heaven! So, I'll keep asking myself, "Who's on first?"


Julie said...

I just came for a visit (since you stopped by my blog) and I'm so glad I did! I'm not sure if I'm a great mind or not, but I was thinking about the same thing today. My best mothering moments are when I can set aside my own selfishness and really give my kids the attention they want and deserve. Sadly I don't always do this (and I would have never gone sledding because I detest being cold - see there I am being selfish again). Thanks for this post - you inspire me to try harder.

Angela said...

If I can't think of an unselfish reason to say "No," I'm going to say "Yes."

Well spoken! It is so easy to get caught up in the selfishness cycle and so hard to get out. I am working to remember the acronym for JOY - Jesus, Others, You. Helps keep me focused when I'm tempted to say "No" for no good reason.

Irritable Mother said...

Julie - Thanks for stopping by. I hope you will continue to visit! And, honestly, it did take me a long time to warm back up, but hot chocolate always helps. (My little reward!)

Angela - JOY (in that order) is what I want in my life!!!!!

Ann Kroeker said...

Oh why, oh why did you have to pick *sledding* as your illustration? Like Julie Q., I detest being cold. I also hate flying uncontrollably down hills on a flimsy piece of plastic. Sledding ranks pretty high on my list of "Things I Could Never Do Again for the Rest of My Life and Still Be Perfectly Happy."

Man. Now I have to say "Yes" when they ask.

The good news (for me) is that my previously selfish responses have trained them not to ask. Oh, they pester their snow-lovin' dad, but if I'm lucky, maybe they won't think to bring it up to their poor old heat-lovin' mom...and I won't be forced to say yes.

Of course, if that's the case, I'm missing out. According to your revelation here, I'll be missing out on joy.

And couldn't we all use a little more joy?

Lots to think about. As usual. Good stuff. I'm glad you got this inspiration!

Irritable Mother said...

But Ann - I didn't *pick* sledding. My kids did! Really, if it were up to me to do the picking, we would have gotten pictures out and done scrapbooking. And I certainly wouldn't have picked going to Caesarland yesterday, either! (Do you have Caesarland in Indiana?)