Monday, August 30, 2010

It’s About Relating, Not About Doing

[I began to write this post a couple of weeks ago on August 16th.  For the sake of time and simplicity, I will not change its beginning to make the point that now it has been two weeks since this all took place.]
Yesterday, as I pondered some of the events of my past week, I began to see something and to learn what it meant. 
I had all last week to myself at home.  My husband and two of my children went on vacation to visit family.  I did not go with them because we have four dogs and to try to find someone to care for them is such a hassle, especially now that my oldest one is blind. Four weeks ago, I went on a vacation with my daughter to visit my family for a couple of weeks, and last week, my husband took one of our sons and our daughter to visit his family.  A dear friend came to visit me for the first weekend, and we had a fantastic time together.  After her departure on Sunday, I had the house pretty much all to myself for the rest of the week.  I had made up my mind that I was going to accomplish a great many things.  My plans were to catch up in areas or responsibility where I was behind and also immerse myself in some reading, studying, and writing (three of my favorite things to do).  Those were my goals.  Some were accomplished, and some were not.
Every day was full of “doing”.  I looked after things around the home, I worked on the digital pictures from my trip, caught up our checkbook records, paid bills, did some research on the internet, decided on necessary homeschooling materials and ordered them, tried to do some work on my blogs, ran errands, and met with a couple of friends to chat.  However, each day there were always quite a number of things which I was still unable to get accomplished.  Even looking back now, I ask myself, “Where did the days go?  What did I do with them?”  One thing I can say that I did not do was spend time watching TV.  I can’t even operate the controls on the thing; so I don’t bother with it.
As the week went on, I became more and more frustrated knowing my time alone was coming to an end, and I felt like I had not accomplished nearly as much as I would have preferred to.  I had not spent any time doing Bible study or writing, like I had really hoped to, and that disturbed me very much.  By Friday, I had some errands to run that were a must and I made up my mind to get those accomplished that day, no matter what.  I left the house around 12:30 to fulfill my quest. 
The first errand took way longer than I had expected.  I had to wait in lines over and over again at the community college where I only wanted some simple info on possibly registering my 16 year old in some music or computer elective classes.  After waiting in lines for a long while, I left there without much of anything.  The person I really needed to talk to wasn’t there.  So passed 45 precious minutes of my day. 
I drove on to a friend’s house to drop off some curriculum she had let me borrow; at least that was a quick stop except for the driving time. 
After leaving my friend’s house, I proceeded to Bed, Bath and Beyond (BBB) to exchange my daughter’s humidifier because they are no longer selling its filters in the United States and BBB said I could exchange it for a new model.  Oh my!  Did that turn into quite the “adventure”!!!  As I took the humidifier to the service desk, the employee cheerily said, “The hardest part of this whole thing will be picking out a new one.”  (Ha!  Famous last words.)  This “simple” exchange ended up taking 45 minutes to one hour because the initial humidifier I picked out from their shelves could not be sold to me once I took it to the register to finalize the transaction because it had been recalled.  There was a long time of me waiting for the manager to confirm the recall followed by spending more time picking out another humidifier that was going to cost me more money than I wanted to.  After waiting in line once again, the clerk rung up the new humidifier and accompanying filter change I was purchasing along with it, and I noticed that the price on the filter was incorrect and $10 more than it said on the sticker.  The manager had to be called again to help us and address the problem and the clerk had to spend time filling out some erroneous price report for the store.  During all this I made the greatest effort to remain calm and take it all in stride.  No sense getting angry at the clerk or anyone else there.  These were all circumstances beyond all of our control. 
Finally!  I left Bed, Bath, and Beyond with the belief that I was almost done with my “To Do” list for the day and could come straight home to do something I wanted to do for enjoyment.  Well, God had other plans for me.  As I got on our freeway to come home, I caught the Friday afternoon traffic.  It was bumper to bumper.  What would have been a 15 minute drive home took me 45 minutes.  Plus, I had to make another stop for gas and some groceries.  As I sat in the bumper to bumper traffic, I talked to myself and to God a whole lot.  I had to remind myself that it was a good thing *I* was not in control of my day and God was.  After all, what a mess I would surely make of things if I was in control of all I desired.  I reminded myself that God was giving me a great opportunity in learning to relax in His hands and into His plans and that resisting and pushing against things which were not in my control would only frustrate me and make me miserable and upset.  The more I talked with myself and with God, the calmer I became.  Though, I can honestly say that I wasn’t necessarily “happy” about the way the day had turned out.  I was disappointed things had not gone the way I had wanted them to.
That Friday night, I made a new, final “To Do” list for my last day home alone, Saturday.  Michael and the kids would arrive early evening, and I was doubly determined to do as much as possible before that time.
Saturday morning arrived.  I began my journal entry with, “Allrighty…lots to accomplish today.  I’ve been on my own all week and haven’t spent time on study or reading at all.  God has not granted me that time for whatever reasons.  Today, more of the same.  I must…”  And so I listed five things that were important for me to get done.  However, I had also awakened that morning feeling determined and encouraged that I would not allow myself to be frustrated whenever my plans were detoured by God or derailed altogether.  I told God that I would not resist His readjustment of my “To Do” list for the day.  Oh boy, was it a good thing I awoke with such a positive attitude because God certainly readjusted my plans.
As I was eating my breakfast, a neighbor called me needing my help for a few hours.  When I received his call, I had to check my heart and ask myself if I was just giving “lip service” to God in what I had said to Him, or was I really serious about being submitted to His will instead of my own?  I made up my mind that I preferred to go with God’s flow instead of resisting and insisting on my own.  My neighbor needed me to sit with his wife, who has advanced ALS, while he got out of the house and went to the gym for a couple of hours.  As I dressed, I pondered which of the items on my “To Do” list I could accomplish while I spent a few hours at their house.  I figured I could surely take my very disarrayed recipe binder and organize the recipes.  Organizing my recipes and creating a monthly cooking menu had been one of the perpetual items on my “To Do” list.  That morning, I enjoyed a fun two and a half hours sitting with my neighbor, laughing, and chatting with her and also organized all the recipes I brought with me.  I came home feeling blessed by growing the friendship with my neighbor and also making progress with the recipes.
I also arrived home quite hungry.  I planned on eating my lunch and following that task with getting some away from home errands done that were also on my list.  As I was wrapping up my lunch, one of my dogs began to bark out in the backyard.  She’s not a barker, so I went out to see what was going on.  Well, she was barking at our new neighbor behind us who recently moved in and who I had not had a chance to meet.  The neighbor was trying to talk to Ella and looked up at me when I came out to see what was happening.  I thought, “Well, I suppose I can’t just tell Ella to be quiet and go back inside so I can hurry on with my things to do.  That would be rude.  I really should introduce myself to the new neighbor and at least say hello.”   A bit reluctantly, I went down to chat with her.  She was in the mood to chat for a long while; hence, I stood out there for a very long time.  Eventually, I became too hot and thirsty to continue our conversation and finally had to excuse myself.  During our conversation I was glad that I had taken the time to go down and chat with her.  From what she said to me, it meant a lot to her for her neighbors to get to know each other and speak with one another.
I left the house to run the errands which I had meant to run first thing in the morning.  Upon returning home, I put away some things purchased and began to set up the new humidifier in Madison’s room when there was a knock on the door.  It was a couple of LDS missionaries, and they wanted to chat too; especially when I told them I had LDS family and nieces and nephews who had also been missionaries like them.  I am not bothered whatsoever when the missionaries come to the door, although I have no intentions of joining the LDS church.  Following their visit, I tried to get back to what I was doing before they had knocked, and my sister called to chat and catch up.  While on the phone with my sister, Michael and the kids arrived home much earlier than expected!  And that was the end of the week on my own. 
The following day I did quite a bit of thinking about the events of my Friday and Saturday.  I had a lot of time to be able to think on Sunday because I had been battling a terrible sore throat all week and after all the talking and relating I had done on Saturday, my sore throat was quite flared up and I couldn’t talk anymore.  While I pondered, I realized that when I had relaxed into whatever plans God had for me instead of resisting or forcing my own “doings”, He had me interact with various people throughout the day.  Each interaction was one of relating.  God had orchestrated my Saturday to be one of relationships, not one of “doings”.  It was quite the “Ah ha!” moment to come to that realization, and it made all the sense in the world. 
God, the great YHWH, is a god of relationship!  It makes perfect sense that one of the things He cares most about pertains to our relationship with Him and our relationships with others whom He places in our lives.  “Doing” means absolutely nothing if it is not rooted and stemming from healthy relationships with Him and others.  God doesn’t find pleasure in any of us because we are “doing” or “performing”.  He finds pleasure in us because He created us and loves us unconditionally (regardless of what we do or don’t do), and He wants to have an intimate relationship with us.  I do not love my children because of what they do or don’t do.  I love them because they came from me and I birthed them.  I loved them the moment they began to grow in my womb, when they were totally helpless and unable to do anything.  Do I prefer for my children to do things or to relate with me?  Most certainly, I much prefer for them to be in a healthy relationship with me.  When our relating is not right, it is a great sorrow to me.  My favorite times with my children are when we are all together, relating well, and enjoying each other’s company.  If and when they “do” anything, if it is not being done with love in their hearts for me or for others, it means nothing. 
There are many religions out there promoting a lot of “doing”.  “Doing” to be saved, “Doing” to be in good favor with God, “Doing” to get rewards in heaven, “Doing” to be more prosperous here on earth…“Do, do do…”  To me that is a bunch of “Do, do”, if you get my drift.   
YHWH is not the God of religion; He is the God of relationship.  The Bible is an account of how God relates with man and what He does for man.  It is not account of what man does for God.  God doesn’t need ANY thing from us.
In Apostle Paul’s words, I say to every single person on this earth:
This One am I announcing to you.  The God Who makes the world and all that is in it, He, the Lord inherent of heaven and earth, is not dwelling in temples made by hands, neither is He attended by human hands as if requiring anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all.  Besides, He makes out of one every nation of mankind, to be dwelling on all the surface of the earth, specifying the setting of the seasons and the bounds of their dwelling, for them to be seeking God, if consequently, they may surely grope for Him and may be finding Him, though to be sure, not far from each one of us is He inherent, for in Him we are living and moving and are”  (Acts 17:24-29)
Our life, breath, and all are found in Him…He gives it all.

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