I can't remember the last time I read a book from start to finish, but yesterday I did. Last night, bundled under a blanket and heating pad (I just couldn't get warm), I read the last page and then closed the book. The hard cover and book back felt so good between my hands, every word between, now my arsenal.
There's something about January that makes us want to eat better, do better, live better. This book I finished, Present Over Perfect , was the reminder I needed that life can be more full when we rid ourselves of the unnecessary. People-pleasing and ceaseless hustling, the author Niequist suggests, gets in the way of joyful, purposeful life. I'm guilty of both people-pleasing and hustling, something I intend to change.
So today, along with getting up at a decent hour and starting laundry, it was my goal to immediately practice simpler living. After sorting mounds of clothes and starting a load this morning, I threw together ingredients for a hearty soup we'd have for supper. I gave myself an imaginary check mark for following the meal calendar that hung on the fridge.
I quickly (something close to a hustle) assembled a lunch salad for Jason and pulled my hair back in a ponytail. Grabbing the first pair of jeans that came out of the dryer I got dressed. My youngest, Rylie, and I would spend the afternoon together.
While shopping we found a coat that fit her nicely...and we both liked it. I gave myself another check mark (clothes agreement tends to be anything but simple). I even let her sit in a rolling chair with lilac cushions that invitingly sat in the middle of TJ Maxx. I was patient...not at all hustle-y.
I was so patient and lacks i daisical that I suggested we find a place in the mall to get her hair cut (She was in desperate need). Again we were in agreement. At this point I gave myself fireworks instead of checkmarks, because this mom and daughter date was booming.
We had no wait for a haircut. A sweet lady that reminded me of my older daughter Hallie's friend, took Rylie straight back and washed her hair. I sat directly across from the stylist chair, ready to watch the simple transformation, from messy ponytail to a shorter, smoother "do".
We were having a great conversation about Christmas and good eating places when three employees (two girls and a guy) walked past us and into the workroom two chairs down and to the left.
Their conversation, which was much louder than ours, turned downright vulgar in a matter of moments. In patient mode I waited for the conversation to turn, or get quieter, but neither happened. My face burned with embarrassment and my heart twisted in agitation. My twelve-year-old daughter was hearing cringe-y information that she could live a lifetime without.
Just when I gained the courage to get up and go peek my head in and request that they turn their X-rated sex talk down a few decibels, one of them closed the door.
I sunk in my chair. The situation had been diffused, but not by any good choice of mine. Every checkmark and firework I'd accrued rained down in my head like ash. I hadn't had the courage to do what was needed.
Though I refrained from hustling today, my need to people please rose above my parental duty. I don't protect my kids from everything. They're going to encounter unsavory behavior from time to time. The difference is, today I knew in my heart that it was in my power, and it was my God-appointed purpose to speak up, and I didn't.
I was afraid of causing a scene. I feared I'd embarrass my kid. I felt sure that my efforts would be neither appreciated or understood. I also had little confidence that my words would change their behavior (They'd already walked by and saw us there).
In my effort to refrain from trouble-making, I'd silently pleased everyone in the salon except for the loud voice in my head urging me to do the hard thing, the right thing.
Fear of being misunderstood or offending, it seems, is more important than offending my God.
So hustling? I know what that looks like. I need less of it. I'll continue to practice a slower rhythm again tomorrow just like I did today.
People pleasing? I saw that as large as life in a salon mirror today bearing my image. I was reminded what it looks like with my daughter looking on. Rylie received a simple transformation today. It looks like mine will prove to be a little more complicated.
...just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:4