Saturday, 27 October 2012

Is life a perpetual contradiction?

I have been involved in a number of conversations lately and I have realised how differently each of us sees the world.  Depending on our beliefs, teachings and experiences we all interpret our world and what is going on around us slightly differently.  I can often believe something very passionately and then I will have an experience that alters, deepens or erases that belief.  I can say one thing and then do the complete opposite, it is very confusing.

Last night I saw the end of a documentary about Paul the Apostle and it discussed how his writings in the New Testament have influenced society more than most of us would recognise.  He said some beautiful, empowering and inspiring things that revolutionized how people thought about and treated each other.  We have one of his quotes hanging in our kitchen “Love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in wrong doing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes in all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).  He also said “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28.

However, Paul is also quoted as saying some much less loving and inclusive things, like “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet” (1 Timothy 2:11-12).
The documentary highlighted the contradictions in Paul’s writings and it made me think of all the contradictions in my own life.  For example I find thinking and talking about money offensive and dull however I love spending money; I hate paying taxes but I love that we have high quality public hospitals and public schools; I feel as if love and relationship is the most important thing and earthly possessions are meaningless but I am very attached to our home and where we live; I believe every human being has been perfectly created yet I think and say some very unkind things about these perfectly created human beings, myself included.   The list goes on. It is like I have this ideal in my head that I strive for but sometimes the reality for me is quite different, creating a world and life full of contradictions.

William Blake, English poet and painter who died in 1827 said “Do what you will, this world’s a fiction and is made up of contradiction.”  I tend to agree.  Look at Saint Paul he made three long missionary journeys throughout the Roman Empire, planting churches, preaching the gospel, and giving strength and encouragement to early Christians. Of the 27 books in the New Testament, Paul is credited as the author of 13 of them. Paul was martyred for his faith in Christ by the Romans, about 64 or 65 A.D. Paul towers as one of the all-time giants of Christianity yet still he was surrounded by many contradictions, so what hope do the rest of us have?

Do you think it is possible to live without contradictions?  Do your own contradictions bother you or do you just embrace them as part of your unique, curious and magnificent personality?

Monday, 22 October 2012

Adventure of the spirit or excuse to be lazy?

I can not decide if being a Stay at Home Mum (SAHM) is an exciting adventure of the spirit or just my way of hiding from reality and avoiding hard work.    Every day, each hour, even fleeting moments can contain exciting adventures of the spirit.  I love my children, husband and life so much I have tried to stay busy so I wouldn’t have to feel the complete emotion, I didn’t want to be completely and utterly overwhelmed by the love, and the subsequent exhaustion, frustration and constantly changing tempo of life as a mother and wife.  I wanted to have a small amount of control, my own identity, which I thought I maintained by having many other things going on in my life ... but I am slowly starting to let go, to let it all flood in, to be fully present, immerse myself in all its glory, and endless frustration, and it is wonderful and worrying all at the same time. 

I feel so grateful for all the blessings in my life, the amount of love, the wonderfully rich relationships I get to enjoy, I feel a great responsibility to recognise, acknowledge and celebrate these blessings, these individuals, these relationships.  This can sometimes feel like a cover for being lazy, an excuse to talk on the phone, to spend hours on end with friends and their children, an excuse to go shopping for birthday gifts, a reason to do craft and play games and a justification for sitting still and relaxing.  Sometimes it is exhausting just fighting these feelings of guilt, writing this I feel I am trying to justify my choice, to convince anybody that will listen that staying at home with our children is a worthwhile pursuit, and one that I am capable and deserving of.  I read books on it, attend courses about it, I am consumed with the desire to prove to myself and world it is alright to stay at home.  Embarrassingly I always try to work into the conversation that I have two University degrees, see I just did it here, again trying to justify myself.

I have a very detailed idea about what a SAHM should be, she should cook a lot of beautiful homemade food, it would be preferable if she could sew, she should have a thriving fruit orchard and vegetable patch and make cordials, jams and preserves, she must be very frugal and make do in any situation, she looks after the household finances, she should have at least four children and her house must be spotless at all times.  An extra cherry on top would be if she ran her own small business from home, preferably her own label of health foods, homemade beauty products or range of adorable designer kids clothes.

For some people this is their reality and I will be forever jealous, and if I was any of these things I don’t think I would struggle with the fact that I do stay at home. For me a SAHM does everything they tried to teach us in Home Economics, which I hated, and now I can’t do any of these things.  I can love my children, I can make my husband laugh, I am good at coordinating great parties, I love taking photos and recording wonderful moments we all share together, I love sitting still and listening to and sharing stories, if something gets a rip or a hole it gets tossed out and I throw out a lot of left-overs.  I yell sometimes and even occasionally throw a thing or two, and sometimes I shout out the back door just cause I have to.  None of these things fall into my idea of what a SAHM looks like but guess what I am still a SAHM.  From right now I am going to try and stop justifying my choice and I am going to enjoy this exciting adventure of the spirit, goodness knows where it might lead or how long it might last.

I will continue to pray that I can enjoy it, all of it, and not rob myself of joy by thinking about all the things I am not. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Living the dream is off to a slow start

Since I finished University and entered the workforce in 1999 my life has been about one deadline, event, project or function after another.  I have been involved in coordinating, promoting, attending and completing more community events and projects, big and small, than I care to remember.  Then once we decided to become parents back in 2005 there has been a lot of planning, organising, heartbreak and celebrating tied up in that process, which for us has been an eight year journey to get two beautiful children.

After many months I have finally made the decision to be a full-time Mum with no part-time jobs on the side.  I want to be fully present with my children and husband, I want us to have the time and energy to realise our dreams of living lightly, trying to produce our own food, not creating so much waste, setting faith and family as our priorities every day and not getting caught up in consumerism/materialism.  Sounds great but it is proving much more challenging than I thought.

I thought my life would look like the pictures out of an Australian Country Style magazine, but not yet.  Since making this decision my body feels like it is shutting down. I am having a whole range of strange symptoms including fatigue, conjunctivitis, blocked ears, head colds, body aches and I think my body is physically realigning to the fact that I have no deadline in my head, no to-do list, there is no plan for the first time in a long time.  I think I may have over-relied on my Catecholamine hormones (these regulate stress responses and includes adrenaline) and now my body has to start functioning without them.  I have no medical training but this theory sounds good to me.

To make it worse our home life has not become miraculously more organised since making this commitment.  There is still a massive amount of washing to be folded and packed away, the floors need vacuuming and mopping and I have not embarked on my juicing, bread making and homemade baking as I desire.  Life is pretty much the same as before I just have absolutely no money and feel more tired than ever before.  I’m not sure this was the plan.

Anyway, despite the immediate shortcomings of my plan I am determined to continue with the experiment, I hope I have made the right decision, and even if it takes 20 years to reap the rewards, if there are any rewards to reap, I hope I have the courage and conviction to try and live my life the way I feel I have been created to live it.  Wish me luck.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Does your life resemble art?

“This particular artwork is lacking in detail, the perspective is unusual and there does not seem to be a strong focus but it is light and draws in the eye, there is something captivating yet indescribable about the piece”. If my life was art I think this is what an art critic might say. 

Often everyday life sucks the air right out of my lungs, the weight of responsibility is heavy on my shoulders and I get exhausted thinking about what needs to be done, before I have even done anything.  I get so bogged down in and consumed by what I think I ought to be doing and this, along with the guilt of not doing most of it,  has consumed most of my life to date. 

Recently I have found it necessary to strip my life right back to the core, which for me is God, family, love and relationships.  I am struggling with the process.  I feel lazy and irresponsible dropping off all my commitments but I genuinely feel they were distracting me from what is truly important, the joy of living.  All I want to do is praise and worship my heavenly Father; nurture, recognise and enjoy Mother Earth and love my husband, children, family and friends with all my heart.  For me, these things require all my time and effort. 

Money, my little earthly brain says, oh but what about the money, how are you going to make money and I don’t know.   I feel so abundantly blessed in so many ways that I feel I am doing an injustice to bring money into my life equation.  Easy enough for me to say, I’ve always had enough money for anything I have ever needed.  Money has seemed to take care of itself in my life, so far anyway, so I will continue not to focus on or worry about that.  In making that statement I feel incredibly irresponsible and selfish but I just don’t feel I was created to focus on money, but see how it has hijacked my thinking right here, I’m going to move on.

So, as I sit here in my pyjamas at 8:20am, my children play noisily on the deck, my husband is driving his beat up old tractor around his paddock just because he can, the washing machine is going, the breakfast dishes are stacked in the sink, the sky is blue, the air is warm, the birds are singing and I am going to go and plant trees along our driveway.  I will try not to think about all the other things I should be doing, everything that needs to get done next week, what I will cook for dinner, what people would think if they came to visit right now, all the things I would love to have and I will try to block out the insecurities, the fears, the worry and just live in the moment.  I will appreciate and recognise all the blessings that surround me, right now.

If I can learn to do this with every minute than my life might resemble art, and wouldn’t that be magnificent.  I know my life has been created by an amazing artists on a spectacularly amazing canvas, so what am I waiting for?  What do you think, does your life look like art?