Since the beginning of the year I have been on a mission to do what I value and not what I don't. It sounds simple, but it's not--especially not for someone who is a stubborn, perfectionistic first-born, who wants to be good at everything. I came frighteningly close to burnout this last year and while I was teatering on the edge of losing it forever I realized it didn't have to be this way.
Life is stressful and hard and uncertain and full of many sorrows, but that was not primarily what was dragging me into the abyss of ministry burnout. It was my desire to be everything in all situations, to be the best of the best, to shoulder my load and everyone else's, to be the "team player" that picked up everyone's slack and made things successful! Placing these expectations on myself not only packed some very unwanted stress-pounds onto my gut, but made me feel overwhelmed and resentful.
Thankfully the Lord brought me some clarity before I packed my bags and ran off to Mexico, and since then I have been working on asking for help when I need it and not claiming other's responsibilities as my own. I have also decided that I should do what I value and let the rest go. This is not to say that I don't still do plenty that I don't want to do, but I try to be realistic about what I can actually fit on my plate. I try to pick out the most important parts of projects and focus on those being great and let the rest of the chips fall where they may. As much as I'd like to believe it's true, I'm not Superwoman after all.
This is true in ministry as well as in my personal life. For example, as I shared in my last blog, I am not a woman who finds much personal value in things many other women do. I am not saying that cooking a five course meal (or a meal that at least isn't microwavable and/or previously frozen) isn't valued--I sure do love visiting those ladies' houses--but it's just not me. My house shouldn't look like it does right now (I like to refer to it as The Pit), but I would rather spend time working on the vision of our church planting tactics than make sure my house is spotless. I also love to save money and find awesome deals, but I cannot seem to take the time necessary to become a great couponer--I am determined to do better, but then again, time is money and I'm not so sure I wouldn't rather spend my time somewhere else (I'll let you know how that one turns out).
While there is much freedom in this line of thinking it can be difficult to let go of my own expectations or the expectations I feel people have for a good, Christian woman/wife/(hopefully)soon-to-be-adoptive-mother. I still feel the pressure to host people with freshly baked bread and the cleanest house, or to not be so opinionated at work and at home, or to start thinking less about my call to minister to the city as we prepare for kids. But, I just won't do it. It's just not who I am. Hey, I planted a garden this year (even though it was mocked mercilessly for it's tiny size by Andrew's Kansan relatives), that ought to count for something if we're talking Proverbs 31 women, right?!
Living what I value is something that requires constant attention to what I value and why. I need to know that what I'm valuing is godly and logical. But then I just need to focus on what is important for me and say about the rest: "It is what it is." It's a work in progress.
So, let's be real, when I host I'm the Hostess with the Mostess: The most dustballs hidden under my couch, the most frozen entrees in my freezer, the most notebooks stacked around the house with ideas about our ministry programs and future, and the most grandiose plans about how I will weave together my life as missionary, wife, and mother so that I can be a part of changing the world...and in my heart of hearts, I'm OK with that.