Sunday, January 5, 2014
So it's been forever since I posted here. I don't know exactly why I'm posting now--I'm not hoping for any comments--and I don't have any expectations that I'll keep posting. When school is in session, when my day is over, I'm lucky to stay conscious long enough to read blogs, let alone write one. And too often, when I'm on break, I'm too lazy to write.
But now, on the night before I have to go back to work, I feel like writing about #myoneword I've chosen for this year. If for no one else, then for my own benefit. (See myoneword.org for more words and stories.)
My one word is abundance.
For a long time--maybe for my whole life--I've had what I call a "scarcity mentality." I don't know where I heard that phrase, but it's apt. I remember as a kid scarfing down food I liked, keeping an eye on the platter in case someone else claimed the second helping I wanted. And we weren't poor--I never went without, yet for some reason I feared that I wouldn't have enough of what I wanted and needed. Also, I robbed myself of enjoying my first serving by fearing I wouldn't get a second one. I've been doing it ever since.
A few months ago I realized that my chronic anxiety comes from this place of feeling that I don't have enough to meet my needs, to deal with my challenges, to teach my students, to parent my children, and to partner with my husband. That I, in myself, am not good enough. I told a friend, "I'm spread thin in so many areas that I feel I'm just mediocre in all of them." And if you know me, mediocre has never been okay with me. Result: anxiety, because I know I can't meet the standards I've set for myself. (No, really, I can't. As a high school teacher, if you feel you've failed because some of your students refuse to finish and turn in their work and therefore fail, then your marker for measuring success is ridiculous. I know this. And yet.)
I wasn't planning to have a word for the year. I thought it was a cool idea, but I don't do resolutions anymore (see: above paragraph on feeling not good enough; I've been in survival mode for more than a year) and I didn't have any ideas for a word. Then today in church, during praise and worship time, I suddenly thought, "I need a word for the year! I can say it when I start to feel anxious, to remind me to stay focused on the good things in my life instead of the exhausting or potentially bad ones."
The song we were singing had the word "whole" in it, so I thought that might be it. I do want to be whole, and so many times in my life I have felt broken. (My blog title/Twitter handle, although I chose it by picking up a book of poems and opening to a random page, seems apropos--I've long felt the hairline fracture running through my brain, and sometimes it splits open, and then my head is not a good place to be.) However, I thought about my realization that the brokenness is so centered around feeling inadequate, and I thought of a phrase from another song: "more than enough." I like that. I could imagine myself saying, when worried about money: "God has more than enough to meet our needs." When stressed for time: "I have more than enough time to do what's really important." When exhausted: "He has more than enough strength for me. His strength is made perfect in my weakness."
Being a stickler for "rules," however, I wanted ONE word to express this idea of having, not just barely enough, not subsistence living, but more than enough. I'm not talking about having lots of money, although I wouldn't say no to a better income! I mean enjoying life more, finding the ordinary miracles, the everyday blessings God has loaded me with. And there really are so many things to be thankful for. So I chose the word "abundance," and my husband likes the idea, too.
Before we were invited to friends' house for New Year's Eve, I bought a bottle of sparkling apple cider because we like to toast the New Year. We ended up toasting with the same kind of juice at their house, so our bottle went unopened until tonight. The 11-year-old thought we were toasting because the 10th Doctor didn't become the 11th doctor and instead healed himself (and then his hand and Donna created the first human-time lord whatchamacallit so there was another version of himself). The 11-year-old LOVES David Tennant and so do I, so we are dreading saying goodbye to him. It was a nice fake-out by the show and a good enough reason to toast. The 7-year-old just wanted to beat everyone by gulping his cider down first. Even though they don't fully understand, Justin and I knew what we meant when we said, "To a year of abundance."
Here's to a year of more than enough. Here's to a year of celebrating the blessings I already have, and of receiving what I need to face the challenges that come my way. Here's to a year of drawing boundaries to protect what's really important and not letting my job define me and drain me. Here's to a year of abundance.