Negotiations

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In the world of being a “Working Mom of Three Who Loves Jesus” I have come to a conclusion: I have to make compromises with myself in order to do all that I know God has called me to do with joy.

Here’s one such compromise: currently my precious mother-in-law is immobilized. Her back has decided to protest “functioning”. It simply is not working any longer and she is scheduled for surgery this month. In the meantime, this woman whom I love and respect greatly is suffering in pain. She is not a complainer, but it’s bad. So, what I want to do is be some combination between Emily Post and Southern Living magazine and Jesus. My mind says this equals stopping in every day to visit and run some laundry, bringing flowers to cheer her up, cooking dinner from scratch for her and dad and quoting her just the right verse of scripture to help give her peace. The Holy Spirit tells me this is not realistic, nor what she needs from me. So my compromise is to bring the dinner I cook for my family over a few nights a week to feed us all, calling in between clients, running the laundry while I’m there with dinner and praying for her like crazy. It’s not what I’d like to do, but it’s what I can do.

Here’s another deal I struck with myself: it’s okay to change sheets on the beds when I remember, and before company comes. It’s okay to clean bathtubs when they actually look dirty. It’s okay to not make my bed some mornings. It’s okay to go to sleep with a pot soaking in the sink. I really am not a perfectionist about my house, but I find since I grew up with a SAHM I have this standard in my mind of everything looking “just so” and being truly clean all the time. I wish I could make all that happen, but I really can’t if I want to have time to work out, drop everything to talk with my teenagers when they’re in the mood, pursue relationships with people who are in my new church family, maintain relationships I already have, date my husband and decompress. So I’ve made the deal that it’s okay to do what I can around the house in terms of cleaning, in order to make time for things I actually value more than a clean or tidy home. I want all of the above, but I’ll take the latter.

Here’s one more: fake nails. “Kiss (brand) real short french manicure” to be exact. They look pretty, take 5 minutes to put on and I can afford them. My kids don’t love them, but my husband does and so do I. Again, ideally I’d rather have the time and energy to file and polish and maintain my own real nails, but I’ve settled for these and they make me happy.

Juggling all the hats has been a challenge over the past four years since I entered the working world. I have had ups and downs in trying to live this life in a way that honors God. I have found the most peace in it as I’ve learned the art of negotiating with myself. It turns out that in many ways I ask more of myself in terms of “efforts and results” than God does. So, talking myself out of “complicated, unnecessary, involved” and agreeing instead to “manageable, practical, possible” frees me up to actually do something that makes a difference for my family or a neighbor or a complete stranger. 

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