Juggling a lot this summer? Me too. For the past month I’ve been immersed in an intense graduate education course. My husband thought this would be a good time to demolish the back of our house to replace the rotting windows. And – thanks to a determined rodent – I’ve had to replant my vegetable garden. Twice.
With two kids still at home and a number of writing deadlines, I’m finding it hard to keep up with non-essentials. Like meals. The inventory of our fridge reveals how little time I’ve had to cook: four tubs of half-eaten yogurt, a drawer full of vegetables, and shelves of moldering condiments.
Truth is, I’m not a great cook. I’m not a great housekeeper. I’m not even a great gardener. Every morning, a flock of ravenous goldfinches descends on my vegetable plot, turning my Swiss chard into something that resembles Swiss cheese. And all I can do is gaze out the window of my writing shed, where I’m Zoomed in to class, and watch them fill their feathered bellies.
Which brings me to the fine art of letting go. I knew I’d progressed in overcoming my control-all-things-at-all-costs personality the day I walked into my kitchen and the entire back wall of our house was missing. From floor to ceiling, nothing separated the inside of our house from the outside except a few inches of Sheetrock. But instead of freaking out, I cobbled together sandwiches for lunch.
If nothing else, this summer has taught me to recognize my limitations. So when I’m feeling overwhelmed, here’s what I do:
- Focus on one thing at a time – Right now, that’s wrapping up my college course. Vanquishing pesky rodents and voracious birds will have to wait.
- Ask for help – A million thanks to the family friend who left his own massive home renovation project to help my husband put in our windows.
- Simplify – Forget fancy cooking shows and complicated recipes. Tuna sandwiches with sliced cucumbers make a fine dinner.
- Take breaks – For me, that means shutting down my computer to take a walk or sit in the sun and enjoy a good book.
- And admit your need for grace
None of us can accomplish all we’d like, but we’re not meant to face life’s challenges on our own. As the author of Hebrews writes:
No matter what challenges you face today, consider how you might accept your limitations.
Reach out to others.
And see what happens when you let go.
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes from a little house in the big woods of Midcoast Maine. She is also the author of the children’s picture book The Best Birthday and four other books celebrating the holidays with activities that build children’s faith.
Such good reminders, Meadow. I seem to extend grace to others more naturally than I do myself and I know that isn’t from God.
Also, for dinner last night I had a tuna sandwich and sliced tomatoes. :)
I enjoyed reading your comment, Patricia. You are the second person who’s told me you had a tuna sandwich for dinner last week! Grace is such a gift. I wonder why it is so hard to give to ourselves–something I struggle with too. But I’m going to start right now, beginning with giving myself grace for my overgrown flower garden, which I hope to rescue this week!