Saturday, December 17, 2011

Learning to Focus without Losing Sight

The gold on the wedding invitation swirls around the name I know. I check the date—it’s the one night free sandwiched between Christmas parties and our own Christmas open house and a birthday for friends.

I should go. Noit will take hours—the kind of fancy Chinese sit-down meal that offers some 10 courses or so. The kids wouldn’t last and I don’t really want to spend an evening separated from Brad—him home with the kids, or him at the wedding and me home…

I settle into the No, trying to focus on the things that really matter. The calendar filling with requirements and shoulds, Focus seems to be the only thing to help me decide against this wedding of an acquaintance I rarely see.

This happens every December, and most likely, no matter where you live, the month fills with that combination of things wanted and things that have to be done.

But really, this is how I feel most months. In motherhood—those things I want to do with the kids—reading with them, teaching them about love that never ends, going on adventures, baking cookies together, sharing a heart of compassion. They are mixed in with the things I definitely don’t want to do—middle-of-the-night cries, potty training, disciplining.

And no amount of Focus, or prioritizing or simplifying will give me the freedom to disregard those necessaries.

And in this place where I live—with needs pressing in, I know I want to serve. But I know I don’t have enough. I focus on what I can do, ending some days content with needs met, but other days, bothered by ones that never seem to go away.

And many times, I know I’ve missed something important—that opportunity I let slip into the confusion or the fear or the plain busyness of life.

Some days, focus gives me clarity, reminding me of the big picture, as a mom, as a neighbor, as a wife, as a friend. Focus helps me to help others in the ways that don’t leave me too empty for the next day.

It keeps me from getting sucked into others’ expectations to the point of never getting around to really touching people’s lives--within my own home and outside of it.

Other days, though, the focus keeps me from seeing life on the edges. The woman with the half-smile who sells me my fruit. What’s really happening in her life? Or the child learning English from me, usually talkative, but suddenly quiet, disappearing into the songs and the stories and the flashcards and my ambitious task to teach English to orphans.

Or the child in my own home, wanting to help me pour the flour—one tiny teaspoon at a time. I’m focused on getting all the food made from scratch, even as I need to remember the heart being created—or crushed—through daily decisions.

And so I live with the desire to focus, without losing sight. Seeing what’s in front of me, what needs to be done, without missing needs on the fringes. Choices made with purpose, and purpose found in the necessary mundane. Sticking to roles I need and want to do—mother, wife. But trying not to miss the chances to be more to those with less.

photo credit, schizoform

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