Less than

When I was in a mood a couple of days ago, the BFF texted me not five minutes after the blog had gone live. She’s good like that.

She told me in her very BFF way, which doesn’t leave me a lot of wiggle room and always forces me to tell the truth, that she was praying for me and proud of me and saw holy in the work that I’m doing. And I had no choice but to confess that I’m struggling every darn day with feeling less than, like sitting in coffees shops and tinkering at my laptop and fighting every day to find just a few words to make life make sense isn’t enough.

Even now, I’m not sure what I mean by enough. I just am sometimes (all the time) plagued by this idea that I should be doing more.

A lot has changed for me in the last couple of years for sure, and I’m doing way less now than I was in my late twenties when I was in graduate school, interning at a counseling center, and teaching at the small church. This does not mean that my plate isn’t full, because it still is because I don’t do less well. (Jesus and I are working on this. Ugh.) But, it’s a different kind of full. It’s a slower full. Where my time in coffee shops usually meant chatting with my girls, now means I’m alone with my crazy thoughts and Microsoft Word. And when you’re used to going, slowing down can feel an awful lot like monotony.

In my clearer moments, I know this isn’t true. In my clearer moments I know that being obedient and surrendered is the most holy work, whatever that may look like. I know that every day that I get to be creative is a good day, because it’s one that honors our Creator God. I know that making friends with my baristas is no small thing, because I’m putting in the time to get to know my neighbors. And I know that writing and publishing in blog and in book is brave.

But, I have a lot of muddy moments. Because there a lot of people I know that are doing important things. I have a friend who started a company that creates medical devices and they’ve figured out a way to help people with diabetes not have to lose their limbs anymore. Or at least, I think that’s what he’s doing. Either way, that’s important work. I have several friends who work as engineers and mathematicians at the nearby Army post, and they’re figuring out ways to improve gear and armor so that these soldiers who have to go fight these heinous wars can come home to their families. That’s important work. I have mom friends who are making tiny humans and teaching them to be kind to people and to love God. That’s important work.

It’s all important work.

And it is when I think about those people and all the important things they’re doing in the world, I feel less than. Less than important, less than clear, less than brave.

Anne Lamott, patron saint of nutty writers, quotes Mother Theresa a lot and talks all the time about doing small things with great love. Saint Anne says that this is probably how God’s going to use us to make the world a better place, and if nothing else it’s what stops everything feel so nutty. And when she was at the writer’s conference I went to back in April, she said that she starts by returning phone calls and getting thirsty people glasses of water.

Okay, Saint Anne. I hear you.

I want to do important things (don’t we all?), but when did I get to the place where I think that important things have to big things? When did I start thinking that having coffee with my girls or getting to know the baristas was less than important? When did I start believing that telling stories about what God’s teaching me through my friends was less than brave? When did I start living like following God down the path He’s laid out particular for me was less than holy?

Blergh. Being human is hard sometimes.

But, I wonder if hard is the great human connector sometimes. The BFF reminded me of this the other day, after I made my confession and she reminded me that the important work of motherhood is holy and hard too. She told me in her very BFF way that I was feeling similarly and that was because I was in the middle of it, and then she reminded me that being in the middle of the hard stuff isn’t less holy. And then she said that we need to let that knowledge carry us through the middle. “It IS holy work,” she says.

That BFF. She’s good like that.

I wonder if when we find ourselves in the middle of the hard work of whatever it is that we’re doing, there’s a way to remind ourselves over and over that what we’re doing IS holy. And that it’s true whether we’re married or single, or raising kids or writing books, or visiting with old friends or making new ones. I wonder if we can take to heart what Mother Theresa and Saint Anne say, and remind ourselves over and over that doing small things with big love IS important. In fact, it’s the most important, and that’s true when we’re getting water or returning phone calls or engineering armor or creating medical devices or mothering tiny humans or having real conversations in local coffee shops. When whatever we’re doing reflects grace and God and love and light, there’s nothing less than about that.

Now…only to remember that.

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2 thoughts on “Less than

  1. Amber we had a sermon 2 weeks ago about great people of God and the preacher spoke of Mother Theresa and it was such an encouragement to me as her philosophy was based on the part of scripture where Jesus talks about separating the sheep from the goats and then goes on to talk about feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty etc This was what she aimed to do all her life, she was not a great evangelist but through her work so many people came to faith. Don’t disregard what you are doing. How you reach out to others is important and your blog is one way you are doing this.

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