Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Grace of Mundanity

"This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice." - James 3:15-16

Selfish ambition. 

The soil of each heart has particular species of weeds that are native to it. These invasive life-killlers need no encouragement to flourish. Rather, their demise requires a watchful eye and a fierce determination, which also will also fail, if not empowered by the Holy Spirit. Selfish ambition is one of those weeds that is native to my own heart. It springs up frequently and unexpectedly - it seems that anything can trigger its growth in my soul. 

 I hear about a peer starting work on their Ph.D. and the weed says, "you're falling behind, you'll miss out on opportunities, people will seek them out and not you."

 I enter a new situation and the weed reaches out its tendrils toward whomever it perceives to be in authority or an influencer and it whispers, "gain their respect & favor, it will be good for you."

 I hear praise being spoken about another in regard to something that I think I excel in and the weed cuts my heart with its jealous roots, "why don't they notice me? I am good at that, too."

 I am given some sort of opportunity to lead or teach or somehow showcase something I think I excel in and the arrogant blossom of ambition bursts open, "they are going to affirm me and tell me I'm gifted at this. They are going to think highly of me."

 It's a nasty intruder and I hate that my heart so easily harbors it. When left unchecked, it certainly does create disorder, as James 3:16 states. If I'm not sensitive to the Holy Spirit's conviction in killing off this weed as soon as it shoots up, it completely kills off the peace in my heart and leaves me with anxiety, frustration, and a sort of spiritual blindness toward others where I lose all ability to see them even remotely close to the way God does. It is NOT pretty.

And this is why making me a mother is one of the most gracious things God has done in my life. I think my junior or senior year is the first time I really noticed the following passage of Scripture:

 "But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one." - 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

 I knew then that living out those words - "aspire to live quietly ... mind your own affairs ... work with your hands" - were like the Roundup (or whatever your weedkiller of choice might be) that my soul needs. Becoming a mother, choosing to only work part-time, and choosing not to pursue any further education for now has taken me out of the competitive environments that acted as fertilizer for that ambition weed and has placed me in an atmosphere where I am contented. Sure, changing diapers, folding clothes, and picking up toys isn't flashy, but somehow I can feel these mundane tasks nourishing me. My days at home make me feel both stronger and gentler. It soothes me to know that only God can see much of what I do, because I feel less urgency to perform or meet an unrealistic expectation. I feel at rest.

 Before Liam was born I was always trying to figure out timelines and how to not fall behind in my career or academically. Now I thank God that He cares more about my heart reflecting Him than He cares about what I'm capable of accomplishing. I joyfully accept the grace of mundanity to do its work in my soul.


The Slonekers said...

Beautifully written, Stef. Thanks for putting so many common feelings into words.

kate said...

I am in tears, so clearly this spoke to me. Thanks for writing it so eloquently.

Carol said...

Wow. You summed it up so well, and I feel you on this one. I need a lot of weed killer in my life.

Katie said...

Thank you so much for sharing this - I was so moved by what you said. Such a wonderful message & I am so thankful for you sharing it!