Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gathering It In: Finding Joy in the Journey

I am reading a remarkable book. It is part III of the Mitford Series that I am so keen to write about. This book is called These High Green Hills by Jan Karon. It seems to touch the very fabric of the things that I have been anxious about, or have been thinking about the most.

In this book, one of the characters is thinking about his insight into his newlywed life. Side note: sometimes it is hard for me to read all the schmoopsy poo stuff that this man is feeling toward his wife. My schmoopsy poo moment didn't last very long before my sweetheart and I had to make some hard decisions, and I still crave what people call "the Honeymoon period." Did I have that? Maybe for a day.....but I want it back. I think that is why the next quote touched me deeply as this man reflected on his marriage:

"Every day, with what seemed to be no effort at all on his part, he received God's extraordinary provision of contentment - there it was, waiting for him at every dawn; all he had to do was gather it in."

The active part of this thought was that all I need to do is "gather it in". It really gets me thinking. Was I gathering it in? Was I being proactive in letting contentment in? Why do I have such a hard time feeling content?

This week I interviewed for a position in Idaho. During my conversation with the interview panel, I noticed a theme that digs far deeper than my professional disposition, and something I have referred to again and again in this blog. In both aspects of my life, I feel that there is always room for improvement, and if I am not constantly seeking it, then I am selling myself short on additional opportunities and growth experiences. For example, whenever I cook, I always look for ways I could improve the dish for next time. My sweetheart tells me to knock it off and enjoy it, but I always feel the need to think of what I could do to make it better. There have only been a couple of times where I thoroughly enjoyed my cooked meal and thought it was just....PERFECT.

But isn't this what progress is all about? I venture to say 'yes,' but at the same time, just because there are areas that can improve, doesn't mean that I can't be content in the process - the whole 'enjoy the journey' thing.

Progression for me is a fight. When I have a trial, I fight to the top. I can't wait until I can gracefully walk and be content with the journey.

My sweetheart pointed this out to me once without coming outright and saying it. One day, we went hiking with our friends. Before we began our journey, we planned on doing two hikes before the end of the day knowing our light on the mountain was limited. During our hike, we only stopped a couple of times because we set this expectation of doing two hikes.

As we began our way back to the car and on our way to the second hike, my sweetheart said, "Oh, just rush through because you want to do two hikes. Oh, just keep on going without looking around you," which essentially meant, "Why are we treating this like a marathon? We are missing out on how amazing it is out here! I am going to take this slow, and you should too!" Maybe trying to complete two hikes was too ambitious to be content during the journey. Regardless, we were missing out on on everything else just to beat the sun and meet our demands. I know that I typically run faster than I have strength and don't enjoy the journey along the way. 

I always feel the most content during the holidays with my family. During this time though, I get super, super lazy. I don't help out around the house, I laze around for hours on end. I only help when asked. Because for me, I am trying to gather strength to run fast when the holidays are over. I am realizing that this mentality is not very healthy. This is absolutely a repercussion of running faster than I have strength. The truth of the matter is, I still have responsibilities to my family and to myself. I don't know how to effectively spread out tasks of the things I am trying to accomplish in life. In the end, I wind up sleeping and being lazy for days, which actually makes me feel guilty, so I am not even content with that. WHAT AN INSIGHT!

At the end of the day, I need to remember my first commandment: It is what it is, embrace it, be grateful for it. There is a need for me to 'gather it in,' not only in my marriage, but in my life. I know in order for me to be happy, I need to set down the cooking and take in the better part (story of Martha and Mary). And I know that in order for me to be happy, I need to find joy in the journey, and realize it is still proactive, but shouldn't make me so exhausted at the end of the day.

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