The if-onlys, maybes, and shoulds

Is my life small?

I don’t have a big to do list. My calendar isn’t packed. My days aren’t a blur. I have plenty of time to stop and smell the roses or take a minute or two for self care. I am not pulled in a thousand directions.

So what is it that overwhelms me? Perhaps it is not what I need to do. It is “what could I do?”

  • I look at the project basket and linger over the bits and pieces of memory books I’ve wanted to create for years.
  • I save posts by my favorite needlework store and confidently make plans to knit presents for those I love while watching football or a movie or binge on The West Wing.
  • I flip through magazines and see simple ways to do fun things with Audrey and mentally plan for the day we make it happen.
  • I’m notified that someone has saved one of my “Blackout Poetry” pins to their board and vow to make time to do more.

Even things not in the least bit creative seem compelling. Like if I just cleaned out just one of those bins every day, that closet could be neat, clean, and organized by the end of the week.

And, reading? Oh, good golly, Miss Molly! My books-to-read stack is ridiculous – which, of course, does not stop me in any way from cruising through ThriftBooks and adding volumes to my Amazon Wish List on a regular basis.

But do I actually DO the crafting or Kondo-ing or reading?

No, I don’t. What I do is little jobs, like emptying the dishwasher or making the bed or folding laundry, that I can do while watching re-runs and re-check email to see if there is a new work order for the articles I will procrastinate editing until just days before they are due.

And I’ll check social media – just in case.

So here’s the question. In case of what? 

I have absolutely no idea. In fact, the number of times I have said, “Oh, thank you, Jesus, for a holy prompting to check Facebook for that life-altering post,” you could count on one hand. And, in every case, it was about the health or well-being of someone I love and probably knew about the situation already and in which I had absolutely no chance of making any measurable improvements or changes. Except to pray, which I could (and should) do, of course, without minute by minute update.

And while I value and enjoy these social media check-ins, they seem to be one more way for me to diminish my own life. I hope that didn’t come out wrong — because I love keeping in touch with the ones who like to keep in touch with me, especially from afar. And the hilarious memes and videos? What would we do without them some days. I like the interesting stories and connections to connections I would not otherwise have.

But there’s that down side – the place where I find myself not measuring up, not fitting in, not being included, And I think that’s the side I both dread and fear. The side that shows me how small my life is.

I can’t help but think
if only I worked harder, followed the elusive and ever-changing Author Guidelines, kept a rigid writing schedule, and signed up for the best seminars, maybe I would get a book deal.
If only I had joined them or gone there or attended that or “liked” and “shared” more posts, maybe I’d feel a little more “in” than out.
if only I had stood my ground or spoken my mind about that very idea, maybe I would have been a leader instead of one of the crowd.

Ugh. Those if onlys, maybes, and shoulds can torpedo even the brightest of days.

So what is it? I am delighted to work at home, freelance writing and editing, getting my hand-made journal crafting organized and (maybe?) profitable, spending days with Audrey and Asher, being available because I can be.

I don’t really want a book deal, do I? … Have you noticed the pressure during a book launch? holy moley, I don’t think I’m up to the required hype.

It’s not my nature to go, join or attend everything, no matter how fun it sounds – I don’t know why, except I’m delighted to work at home.

I’m actually getting better about standing my ground and speaking up. But my skin has not thickened enough to be as brazen as needs be to lead.

I’ve chosen to keep things close. Despite the allure of exciting world-travel and the glamour of being a high-profile person of influence, Truth says, “That’s not you.”

Perhaps small is the right word.

But I’m convinced small refers to my world — not my life.

Because Truth also reminds me that God has planned a big life for me.  Not big like widely-known or influential. Big in a way that’s unique to me.

True, when I get it together for a minute and look at what I could do to impact the small world in which I live in small ways with unpredictable results, I get overwhelmed.

Maybe I’m just not convinced that I could actually do all of it. Or that I will, once again, start strong and peter out after a few limp attempts to be creative or organized. Maybe I don’t see the true value to others or the benefit to me.

The lies of the Liar clang so loud – that I really am not worth it. That I’m not good enough. That what I do has no meaning or impact.

Sure, maybe a scrapbook page won’t change the world… but my love for paper-crafting did lead me to a group of women I would not have otherwise met, had it not been a mutual love of handmade journals with Sarah. This lovely group that inspires me to take more artistic risks as I make and create… and a group that just might see the love of Jesus in me and, well… you never know.

And, maybe an organized closet or clean kitchen counter doesn’t do anything for the starving or marginalized. But having a put-together home may just give me the permission I need – from me – to be more spontaneous about inviting someone over, beginning relationships that would have never bloomed if my house shame kept me distant.

Maybe the book I finally read with a friend will start conversations we can’t even imagine.

And maybe my world will grow bigger in ways I can’t even imagine.

Maybe, maybe not. My world will most likely look the same for a long time. But even that doesn’t mean my life will not affect the world or life of someone else.

A lifetime ago, Ray Boltz wrote and sang Thank you for giving to the Lord. It’s the story of a man in heaven, strangers he met, and what his life meant to others. One of the verses goes like this:

One by one they came,
As far as the eye could see
Each one somehow touched
By your generosity
Little things that you had done, sacrifices made
Unnoticed on the earth, heaven now proclaims.

Thank you for giving to the Lord, Ray Boltz

Thank goodness heaven won’t be competitive, and no one will take notice of who has a longer line. We won’t be victim to the if onlys, maybes, and shoulds, and everyone will enjoy the glory. Social media will never make us cry or leave us out. We won’t regret all that we didn’t do that kept us from being who we really were.

But I hope to remember there were times when I, indeed, was my real self in my small world living the big life I was meant to lead. I hope I will meet those souls whose lives I touched, even if we connected only because you, my lovelies, shared your big lives with both of us.

My world is small and it fits me just right. My life, though, is big – I only hope that I continue to grow into it.

And, until we write and read again, I pray for you …

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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