Redefining Value

Something of magic happens when the weather turns a few degrees warmer, hinting at spring and open windows.

I know we’re not the only ones who dragged our grill to the back deck, swept off the front door mat and walked around sockless. We moved here in deep winter, and even the slight uptick in temperature has us refreshed, hopeful and craving more. We’re coming up on three months in this house. I’ve not been working, which has been a great blessing in that I’ve been available to support Thomas through sleep-altering schedules and nutty stories.

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So I think about these fast three months and wonder at them. The freedom of un-rigid days that sometimes, somehow, still felt daunting. The idea that I’d use this season to do or make progress on, or, at least, plan something substantial for my writing or other another big idea. Like a productive sabbatical where the stars would align, bolstering my ambitions and hindering obligation to other people’s needs. It was going to be my time.

In an ironic turn, a different message keeps pressing into me. In our church small group, through sermons, blogs, books and hard conversations, what I’m hearing has nothing to do with goal-setting, productivity or self-preservation.

Instead, I’m asking questions like:

“How can I give more of myself away?”

“What actions and pursuits have long-term value?”

“How can I love those directly around me and tend to this small piece of the kingdom I’ve been placed in?”

My body fights it. I want to protect myself and my season of freedom so I can accomplish something concrete. I don’t want to be taken advantage of by always taking care of others. Every ounce of culture tells me I’m entitled to pursue what I want, like we’re all little soldiers fighting for our rights.

So again, I think of these fast three months and see a lot of small, seemingly inconsequential actions…dinner-making and dog-bathing and candle-burning on the nights our friends come over. In terms of things I’m doing, it all seems average.

But the idea that it’s not all about me and what I accomplish has been refreshing and satisfying. The quiet days with tiny victories, un-pressured and un-hurried, have been generous to me.

I’m redefining what’s valuable and learning that even the inconspicuous and intangible have worth. I’m reconsidering what is pleasing and good, productive far beyond me and not just about right now.

Every meal made, every person cared for, every prayer uttered, every dream chased and every idea set aside for now – I think God uses all of this, shows up in all that seems small, so we don’t need to worry about what we’re not accomplishing by the world’s standards.

And for that, I am so thankful. It’s exhausting to always lead the charge, to always feel the need to achieve, to feel that our achievement is who we are.

This is ongoing for me. Releasing what has no place here, pursuing what is good, and differentiating between the two.

That’s the journey I’m on. And, maybe, the one we’re all on together.

P.S. I’d be lying if I told you the only thing on my horizon was more cookie-baking. This June, I’ll begin working at Purdue Christian Campus House, a church that primarily serves college students and a growing number of young professionals. I’m thrilled for the opportunity and will certainly keep you posted!

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