Several years ago, when I had piles of dishes, overflowing counters and far too many pieces of furniture, I determined to live with less so I could do more.
Before I would sit down to play a game with the kids and I would be haunted by the piles of clutter surrounding me. I had thoughts like:
“Wow, it’s been at least a year since I dusted the piano, look how gross it is…”
“I want to take a bulldozer to the house. Too bad it doesn’t just burn down.”
“Stupid dishes. I hate dishes.”
“Why do kids bicker so much?! Gah.”
“I thought being a mom was going to be fun.”
I was annoyed with my children, and I was annoyed at my attitude towards them. So I set out to declutter my life and change that.
I decluttered, I implemented routines, I got rid of over 10,050 things, all for the reason of being a better person, better wife and better mother at the end of it.
And I am. But it’s not as easy as I thought.
I still was distracted when I was with my children.
I still had to learn how to live with purpose, in the moment. I had been able to rid my life of excess. I had been able to clear my schedule enough to be home with my family. I had been able to teach the children how to complete routines, so their life would be better as well.
But being satisfied with my life didn’t just happen because I decluttered. And I didn’t love every minute of it. In fact, I had to fight my attitude the entire way. I had to work at it regardless of how I felt.
Very seldom do I want my kids to help me cook dinner. But they help me several times a week.
Very rarely do I want to sit and read a book with my children, but we do it anyway.
Very rarely do I want to homeschool, teach them to read or do an art project, but we do something almost every day.
To be honest; I would rather let my kids veg out in front of the TV while I read a book or play on my computer.
I would rather let them eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every meal than hear them whine about chicken and green beans.
I would rather be lazy and self-indulgent.
Of course, there are days when I truly enjoy my children and enjoy the projects that I am working on. But so often, I have to just show up. I have to be there and do what I know is right regardless of how I feel about it.
That is what living with purpose looks like.
I’ve struggled with depression, I know what it’s like to want to stay in bed all day and hide from the world.
During a particularly dark time in my life, one of my good friends referred me to an essay by Andrée Seu, in which she says:
You can say, “I’m depressed. So what?”-and carry on with the energy God supplies. ~Out Of The Blue
It’s the same with living purposefully. It doesn’t matter how you feel, it doesn’t matter the thoughts going through your mind. You carry on and do what you know is right.
We all want hacks and gimmicks that mean we can do the right thing with a smile in our hearts, birds singing around us and the sun always shining. But the fact is, life is hard. Being a spouse is hard. Being a parent is hard. It means we have to die to ourselves, giving to those around us. And it’s just not fair.
But like Peter Falk said in The Princess Bride:
Well, who says life is fair? Where is that written?
And so we carry on. With purpose.