Sunday, January 9, 2011

Joyful Obedience

Well, it's January- the start of a new year. I've never been much of a resolution maker, but the beginning of 2011 seemed like a good time to start! My resolutions include but are not limited to these:

  • Take better care of myself. No "work out everyday" or "swearing off restaurants"- I'm trying to set myself up for success, here!
  • Be a better and nicer wife. Tripp insists that in no way have I been a poor or mean wife, but I can just see some areas for growth.
  • Most importantly-- teach myself to become joyfully obedient.

I've heard the phrase all my life- joyful obedience. The first Sunday of the month, every Chrysalis retreat (sever times over each weekend)... Page 12 of the United Methodist hymnal at the end of the confession and pardon prayer. "Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord."

I have had the communion ritual memorized for a number of years (as I'm sure many in our congregations do, but still, we start at the book...). Since my realization of this fact, I have quit "turn[ing] to page 12 in [my] pew hymnal" when the minster asks and I have had a series of epiphanies about the meanings of the words we recite month after month, thoughtlessly, only because I've put thought into them as they are said. Still, I can be quite slow and some phrases get over looked all the same. Admittedly, the feeling of complete stupidity that follows the bliss of making a revelation is incredibly humbling and therefore all part of the process, I'm sure.

I marvel at the timing of God's wonders, but clearly, Christmas eve was the night where my ears were first opened to hear what my life has been so lacking, then reinforced when we took communion again on January 2. I'm lazy. I procrastinate. I've been actively working on it for a handful of years now with little success. And it makes so much sense now, looking back- I told myself to get up and do work but I felt like there was no purpose in it. Why do I need to clean up? Why do I need to do my homework? Why do I need to study stupid subjects? "Because it needs to be done." That was never sufficient for me. On the rare occasion it was, then my obedience was begrudgingly.

I didn't understand the truth in "it needs to be done" and how that IS enough purpose for me to do work. As I was talking to my friend Stacy this morning, she reminded me that work is a blessing and always has been: Adam was to tend the garden even before he and Eve sinned. God did not make us capable and smart people with the intention for us to just sit around, doing nothing. Working is just as much a part of our nature as sinning is (but helps us stay focused and avoid sin- a topic for another time). We constantly busy ourselves and I have had a habit of busying myself with stupid, inconsequential tasks when I have real jobs to be doing!

If the dishes need to be done, then I need to do them and I need to be joyful in doing so-- I have dishes and there was food on them! The laundry is piling up, and I'm so grateful we can clothe ourselves. The bathroom is dirty, but praise God for our privacy, the sanitation advances we have made since the beginning of time, and especially for the good health we have and would like to keep!

It comes so naturally to me in the office! My job is so simple and incredibly mundane, but I am so happy to do it! I have a job and an income! Maybe the fact that my position is technically temporary helps me keep a grasp on the joy of the situation- every mindless and numbing task they find for me is another hour/day/week I get paid. I've started really trying at home in the last few days to practice joyful obedience and it's going to take some getting used to, a lot of discipline. But my overall joy is greater because I feel a sense of completion and purpose.

I guess that's really my only resolution, because everything else seems to fit into that one concept. If I'm taking care of everything I need to be taking care of, everything will be as it should. And that thought in itself is so freeing...