Different angle on regrets

Just read a post by Donald Miller at the Storyline Blog. He wrote about two lists he makes each morning before he starts working. Here’s what he writes about the first one:

IF I COULD LIVE TODAY OVER AGAIN I’D

I borrowed this concept from renowned psychologist Viktor Frankl who taught his patients to treat each day as though they were living it for a second time, only this time around to not make the same mistakes. It’s an amazing little mind trick, actually. What it does is cause us to evaluate the decisions we will make that day even before we make them and as such avoid regret. It’s a powerful tool to help us not live in reaction but instead to accept our God-given agency. When I sit and think about what I’d do if I could live today over again, I always write down that I’d spend more time in prayer or invest in close friends. My life becomes much more relational because I make this list.

This made me think of the last post I wrote (about the inevitability of regrets). They’re still inevitable, but I thought this was a great idea and I wanted to share it. It makes me think of the movie Groundhog Day–in which the jerky main character is stuck re-living the same day until he finally gets it “right.” He gains a different view of time and other people and, ultimately, of life through his second (and third and fourth) time through the same day.

If you’d like the read Miller’s entire post, here’s the link: http://storylineblog.com/2013/10/21/two-lists-i-make-every-morning/.

Thanks for reading,

Jen

God’s generosity in the middle of my mess

I posted about “the mess that is me” on Thursday morning and then had a horrifically messy mothering day. Okay, maybe “horrific” is too strong, but by the afternoon I was whining like a petulant child. “God, why on earth did you give me four children when I have no real nurturing skills? Not only am I going crazy, but I’ve got to be damaging them! I fuss at them for using snotty tones with each other, but they’re only copying mine. And then I get frustrated and yell! They’re going to be scarred for life.”

Guilt to frustration, frustration to guilt—back and forth the pendulum swung.

Dave came home near the end of my apologizing to Jake. Jake gave me one of his incredibly grace-filled hugs and left and Dave asked, “What’s up?”

I explained: argument between children; I’d intervened; was fussing at PJ for breaking his promise—again—to his brother and sister; then Jake interrupted, twice; and I yelled at Jake. My conclusion: “I’m an awful mom!”

To which my husband said, “Hon, kids are resilient and God is good. They’re fine—and you need some time alone. I’ll leave ahead of you (

Judy and Kelly, our international daughters, have been home with their parents for almost a week now. Em made these brownies for them  just before they left. Love you, girls!

Judy and Kelly, our international daughters, have been home with their parents for almost a week now. Em made these brownies for them just before they left. Love you, girls!

end-of-season soccer party for the high school team Dave coaches) and I’ll take some of the kids with me.”

We had this conversation in the basement bathroom, where I was getting ready. For about five minutes after, there were the usual back-and-forth sounds on the floor above me. Then, suddenly, nothing! None of PJ’s running/stalking footsteps (how can a kid who only weighs 45 pounds make so much noise just walking?), no music blasting, no singing, no talking. Dave had taken all four kids plus the extra friend with him!

Silence. I breathed deep and gave thanks and took my time getting to the party.

When I arrived, I hung out with several soccer mothers and decided to be honest when asked, “How was your day?”

Several gave honest answers in return and real conversation rather than small talk happened. Women a few years further along in their mothering journey shared real advice and they did NOT tell me to “treasure these years—they pass so fast.” (Not that it isn’t true—it’s often just not real helpful in the middle of it.)

At the end of the evening, I left refreshed—and more grateful.

After the kids were in bed, I checked email and found a link to a blog post by Donald Miller in my inbox: “How to Avoid a People Hangover” (here’s the link: http://storylineblog.com/2013/06/04/how-to-avoid-a-people-hangover/), an article about how he, as an introvert, has to have his alone time. I read it to Dave. “This is me!” I said.

He gave me the look. “Haven’t I been telling you that for years?”

“Yes, but I’ve always felt guilty for needing alone time, but when I hear it from someone who also needs it—who feels drained creatively when he doesn’t get it—it’s like permission.”

He gave the look again.

I fully believe that motherhood is a calling from God.

But it’s GOD’s calling. By that I mean that HE is ultimately responsible for it, and though he’s called me to be one of the two primary caregivers for these four, He doesn’t expect me to never take a break.

In fact, He made me to need alone time.

Donald Miller affirms that he needs time away from people. I call kids “people on steroids.” At 9, 9, and 7 (and sometimes even at almost 13), they don’t understand boundaries; the bathroom is still not off limits; when they call “Mo-om,” I’m magically supposed to answer, no matter what.

That’s all good, wonderfully good.

But so is the fact that I’m an introvert who feels re-charged with alone time.

And God knows all that.

How good, how incredibly good He was to me on this quite-messy past Thursday. He knew what I needed and He provided it.

And in my being able to receive, I learned more about how generous He is, right in the middle of my messiness.

I want your thoughts

A couple weeks ago Dave went to hear Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz and several other books that Dave and I have each really enjoyed) speak at Wheaton College. A few days after that Dave read aloud to me a blog post written by one of his former soccer players who had also gone to hear Donald Miller speak. The former soccer player’s post focused on the advice Miller gave to a crowd of mostly college-age kids (I’m at the age I can say that now) who are also, mostly, wondering what “God’s WILL” is for their lives. Miller told these kids to do whatever they want to do, whatever their hearts desire. His premise is that God created us and gives us passions, so we should follow those passions until God makes it clear otherwise.

Former Soccer Player was fascinated with Miller’s reply, but he had a few questions in response. What if we follow our dreams and they don’t work out? What if our passions are frustrated, and, though there are other options, those don’t excite us? What then? Do we give up on our dreams? Do we “settle”? Is the problem, then, with our dreams, with us?

Those are questions I’ve certainly thought a lot about, since writing has always been a passion, and my pursuit of it has prompted guilt (am I going after this simply because I want it? It seems so selfish.) and despair (will anything ever come of this?) as well as great joy (I simply love to write). I have my own ideas about these questions, but I’d also like to hear from others. I’m going to check back on Former Soccer Player’s blog and read the comments his readers leave, but my suspicion is that many of his readers are also 20-somethings and will have the perspective of 20-somethings. Most of you who read mine, however, are, well, we’ll say, “more experienced.” What has your “experience” taught you about frustrated dreams–or dreams that are not quickly realized–or perhaps, NEVER realized? Would you mind leaving a comment?

Thanks,

Jen

From the left, Em, Jane, and Em's long-time friend, Bekah