Once upon a time (three years ago), there was a girl. This girl was married with two children. She volunteered at church as church pianist. She helped in summer ministries and taking meals to others (because she was a stay-at-home mom, and therefore felt she should do more than others who worked full time). She homeschooled her two well-behaved, beautiful children, and was a loving wife to her handsome husband (there are a few fairy-tale details added to this story – you be the judge). She enjoyed gardening and canning tomatoes in her “free-time”. She was especially proud of the fact that she exercised 5 times a week, an hour a day (just like the experts recommended!) And, she worked hard to keep an immaculate house in the middle of a complete (several years ongoing) home remodel that she and her husband were doing themselves. And life was just peachy. Yes, there were times when things got busy or hectic, but “it will soon be over and back to normal”. In fact, they were planning to take a nice weekend getaway soon just to slow down and catch their breath and reconnect and plan some more.
Then one day (a Friday), the washing machine broke. This resourceful girl decided to save some money and fix it with the help of the experts on YouTube. However, her back, which had been hurting all summer off and on after gardening or exercising, would not allow her to reassemble the machine. The pain must have been great, otherwise this girl would never have left her beloved washing machine half-disassembled on the laundry floor for her husband to see (yes, he was shocked at the sight). But, even though her back was hurting, she was determined to continue on with their plans that evening of going out to eat as a family and finishing the school shopping because all the school sales were on, and they were headed out of town that weekend. Yes, the shopping got finished, and yes, her back hurt A LOT when it was done, but everything was still on schedule…
Until the next morning when she could barely get out of bed. And by afternoon, she could barely sit up. And by evening, she couldn’t climb the stairs to her own bed. Nor could she get to the bathroom by herself. And she would have cried at the thought of her and her husband missing their very anticipated anniversary trip the next day, but crying would just make it hurt worse. And so, instead of getting away to slow down and catch their breath and reconnect and plan some more, she was stuck on the couch, forced to slow down and rethink.
Fast forward almost three years. This same girl is still living with her husband and two children, but in a home less than half the size of her last home. There is no remodeling necessary. She still keeps an immaculate house, but it is so much easier with only 6 windows to clean. She doesn’t have a dishwasher, yet she spends less time in the kitchen than when she did have one. She still homeschools, and she still plays the piano (but not as frequently). She does not have a garden, nor does she have an exercise routine. What she does have is plenty of time to read, learn, and listen. And, again, while preparing for a trip, she AGAIN hurt her back. This time, she had learned her lesson (the sooner you rest, the faster it will heal), and immediately stopped EVERYTHING. She is not frustrated because her plans aren’t going the way they were. She’s not scared that she’ll “never be able to keep up with this big house and everything that needs to be done with it.” She’s not afraid that she’s letting everyone down by being ill at an inconvenient time. Instead, she is using this time to relax, listen more to her family, cuddle more, read more, watch TV guilt-free, and organize her recipe book (which she’d been wanting to do for ages, but it just never seemed important enough to sit down and do!) She has decided that this is an ideal time to teach her kids to do more in the kitchen (since she can’t do it anyway, and the family does like to eat). Above all, she is grateful.
She is grateful that God has forced her to slow down. She is grateful to have found that doing less but doing it well is better than doing it all half-way. She is grateful for minimalism, which has taught her to not look at her things for happiness. She is grateful that in these times of economic uncertainty, she and her husband both appreciate living simply. She is grateful for the opportunity to enjoy life together with her husband and two children. She is grateful for peace in the midst of uncertainty.
And, she is grateful for every person who took the time to read this long tale.