I'm officially Reclaiming My Time, and I want to invite you to as well.
This blog is about what it means - what it really means - to be a "Good Christian Woman" - apart from the stereotypes or impossible standards placed on women from the church, from men -- standards that can make us feel inadequate and have nothing to do with Jesus.
If a "Good Christian Woman" is anything, conventional wisdom says, she is AVAILABLE.
She is AVAILABLE to bring the egg casserole for the women's bible study.
She is AVAILABLE to bring cookies to the church visitors.
She is AVAILABLE to listen to long diatribes from anyone who desires her to listen, especially men.
She is AVAILABLE to be the #1 diaper-changer, baby-comforter, dishwasher-emptier, listener, comforter, supporter, champion, cheerleader ...
You get the picture.
And a lot of it is great. You're available to others because you love them. Because you want to be available. You would hate to be cold, or standoffish, or lazy.
I used to participate in some mommy message boards shortly after my boys - Jacob (4) and Josh (1) were born. Sometimes, in the fatigue and stress and anxiety of sleeplessness and colic, conversations on the mommy boards got a little heated. And when they did, I noticed the #1 insult that well-meaning, kind moms would toss one another's way: lazy.
We don't want to be lazy. That stereotypical woman, sitting on the couch in her bathrobe watching soap operas and eating bon bons... (this sounds fabulous, by the way, if you replace soap operas with Bravo reality TV) ...
But the insult always caught me short, too. Am I being lazy when I tried letting my colicky baby self-soothe for 3 minutes? Am I being lazy for using plastic bottles?
Am I being lazy for allowing an allotment of TV? For Easy Mac?
Lazy for having stretch marks?
Lazy for a career that has taken a detour with two little boys at home?
The fear of laziness has made me do all sorts of crazy things, and I can feel it ramping up whenever I'm tired or anxious or stressed or overwhelmed.
Today I read about Reclaiming My Time and I wanted to reclaim it but first I spent 20 minutes turning our house upside down looking for the toddler cups my 1-year-old had purposefully hidden.
No they have not been found yet but I did find four plastic bowls in the backyard storage bin so we are making progress.
I wanted to reclaim my time but then I spent five minutes opening a cardboard box of an ottoman my husband ordered online ... shaking it out, cutting the ties ... nearly getting a hernia ...
I wanted to reclaim my time but then I spent five minutes diffusing my hair because the completely wet look seemed lazy.
And then ... in the blessedness of nap time (which for my 4-year-old means he gets to watch YouTube Kids for 30 minutes and then spend 30 minutes coming out to tell me random facts so he can avoid napping. He just told me he had to poop.)
In the blessedness of napping, instead of Reclaiming My Time, I got lost in a 3,000-word New Yorker article about foster care and the injustice of the system for parents, children and caseworkers alike.
It is only in the Now. In perhaps this very moment right now as I sit in front of a screen with nothing but myself -- my 4-year-old occupied ...
I AM RECLAIMING MY TIME
If you watch the clip above you'll see Maxine Waters, (D-Calif.), a congresswoman from California, during a hearing for Steve Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary. He's going on about something, and he's not answering her question and he's on her time, and so he's breaking procedural congressional rules and she takes this moment to take a risk, to interrupt, to do something women are often loath to do ... and she says this phrase that is becoming a movement - not only for women but also for people of color, for the LGBTQ community, for people with special needs ... for anyone really who has lived their life being told that their time doesn't matter, that they often exist to be AVAILABLE for others.
And so this isn't really about politics to me, but it is about a claim of personhood. A claim that our time here is finite and we'd do well to claim it, and not always spend it - as I have - doing trivial things for others or things that don't matter - and instead spend it doing something purposeful and present for yourself.
I notice this difference between my husband, Ben, and me. Now Ben is a fantastic guy. Early on last week when I posted A Good Christian Woman blog #2, it wasn't getting much early traction and so for awhile my husband was the only one to react to it on Facebook. He even "loved" it.
If that's not true love, I don't know what is.
So I love him, he's my best friend (shhh don't tell our boys) ... and he's an all-around awesome male specimen who can also still dunk in his 30s.
Being a person who recognizes some of the challenges and inequities of womanhood doesn't mean you're anti-man, remember?
Anyway, I notice this difference when it comes to claiming time. When we get a moment of calm around here, naptime on the weekends say - and now that our yard work has been completed - Ben has this ability to turn off the over-functioning and possibly watch TV. He can momentarily ignore the crumbs on the floor or the dishes in the sink or the laundry in the washer.
And too often I find I can't. And I start scurrying everywhere to get it done for that elusive moment when I can relax, which of course generally occurs about 2 minutes and 45 seconds before naptime is over. And I never ever refill my time and I am depleted for the stuff that matters, like being present with my kids, like writing, like hearing Jesus' voice, like preparing articles and sermons and organizing my freelance career.
So clearly I'm still working on it, but I'm going to remember that Reclaiming My Time is blessed.
I'm going to leave you with Jesus' words about time, from the Gospel of John, Chapter 7. His disciples were trying to get him to go to this church party, the Festival of Booths, and Jesus did not want to go. Even though he was expected to go and everyone would be really disappointed if he didn't. And they'd probably post pictures on Facebook and everyone would be all: Where was Jesus?
He was totally not being available, which you'd think the Savior would be. But he also had the fortune of being a relatively privileged man, so his disciples just said OK finally instead of guilting him into it and calling him lazy and checking all his plastics for BPA.
This is all Jesus said:
Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.
Jesus knew he had to claim his time. He knew God had an incredibly difficult and heavy task for him ahead, a task that would save the world, and so he had to ration his time and claim it for what mattered and what he could handle.
Jesus knew the importance of timing. That when you did things mattered just as much as how you did them.
And Jesus, fully God and fully human, loved himself enough to grant himself time. To view himself as intrinsically valuable enough to take up time and space.
Jesus today says this to you. You too are intrinsically valuable: valuable simply because you are, not because of what you do or who you help or who you love - but because you are. This love enables you to love and to care and to do all that you are called to do, but to live the life that God intends for you: you must reclaim your time.
What are you doing to reclaim your time today?
I'm finishing this blog while my boys eat an afternoon snack. Both awake. I figured out that doing things for myself only while they sleep is unrealistic. So we are figuring out how to coexist.
Tell me your stories of your time.
PS: Jacob just helped Josh out of his booster seat without my help. Everyone survived.