Updated: Jul 3, 2019
Last week my husband pointed out to me that I'm not very much like Jesus.
Not in those words exactly.
I was readying for a day of volunteering at my daughter's elementary school. Colonial Day is a special event at which all the fifth graders dress up like colonists and rotate through a series of historical activities. I was in charge of the quilting booth, which meant I would be teaching about 120 ten year olds -- many of whom have never held a needle -- how to sew a quilt block in a 20 minute period.
I made a comment at breakfast, something along the lines of, "Here I go, off to teach a million kids in a loud room all day. Uggggghghghhghgh."
"You know," said my loving man, "it kind of takes away from this good thing you're doing if you complain about it this much." (Or something like that.)
"Have I been complaining about this?" I asked.
"For days," said my spouse.
Oh glory. He's right.
This passion week, I've been reflecting on Jesus, and his last week on earth: what He did and said, especially to those He most loved. What I observe about Jesus is how very intentional He was, how very focused. And most of all, how present He was in each moment, with each person to whom He spoke. I really love this about Jesus, and I want to be more like Him.
Too often, I spend time doing things I don't really want to do. Optional things. I do them out of guilt or obligation.
And even more often, I agree to do things with good will and good intentions, and then when the date roles around (as with Colonial Day), I forget that this was my choice, and I complain about doing it. I show up. But I leave my heart at home.
Here's the thing: Colonial Day in some ways is not really very fun for the adults. It's loud and overstimulating and repetitive. But it's REALLY fun for the kids. I volunteered to serve, in order that I might SERVE. Do you see what I'm saying? I did it to be a blessing to others. And then when it rolled around, I didn't really feel like it because it wasn't fun for me.
Which my husband lovingly pointed out just in time. I went to Colonial Day on purpose, remembering how much I value these kids and their multi-cultural community, and how much I actually love the opportunity to pass on a skill about which I have so much passion.
I would like to show up more like Jesus did in more things: intending to be a blessing, and having joy in the fact that I am following through on that intention. I would like my "Yes" to mean more.
In Codependents Anonymous, I've learned that the deeply rooted compulsive behaviors I've developed since childhood, from which I am recovering little by little, make me forget that I am an adult with choices. When we have choices, we have freedom. And when we have freedom, we can serve in love rather than out of compulsion or obligation. For many years, I didn't feel okay with saying no, and so my "yes" didn't count for very much. But now, what I want most out of life is to be a loving person, and to be a loved person, in a wholehearted, present way.
I've been trying to bring Jesus-like intentional-ity to my life this week. I'm choosing to shop, prep meals and wash dishes as a mediation of loving service to my family. I volunteered at the school Jog-a-thon on purpose, and chose to be glad that I was there. I've vacuumed and folded clothes with love. I've thought, "yes, yes, yes," as I do these things. And I've laughed at myself -- a choice to laugh rather than feel deeply ashamed -- as I realized how much I was inwardly saying "Uuuuugghghghghg" over the menial tasks that add up to loving those I most love: my husband and kids.
And then I cried, thinking of Jesus who didn't just live with intention, but died a wholehearted death, with forgiveness for his tormentors on his lips. I'll never live up to this kind of love, which is why He died in the first place: so I wouldn't have to.
And that love, that grace, makes me want to be present, bringing my whole heart to each yes, all the more.