Friday, January 21, 2011

ALL or nothing

It's a poisonous way to live life. And yet, it's what I do in so many areas. Because I'm not The Pioneer Woman, I'm not going to even bother blogging. Because I'm not Ina Garten, I'm not going to even bother cooking adventurous meals. Because I'm not John Piper, I'm not going to even bother praying. Because I'm not Sandra McCracken, I'm not going to bother playing my guitar.

It makes sense in my head at the time. Behold, a syllogism:

The goal of everything should be perfection.
If you can't achieve perfection, you shouldn't even bother.
I shouldn't bother with anything hard because there is NO WAY I will be the best, thereby accomplishing my goal AND securing lots of accolades from onlookers (that of course being the secondary goal.)

Now, I'm no Aristotle, but I feel pretty safe in saying that this is not logical.

Why are you writing all this? Can't you just put up a picture of your kids and be done with it?

I could go on and on about this for years probably and never run out of things to say about how truly dysfunctional I am. But the reason this topic is on my mind is because of the book I started today called Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic. Laura recommended it and after reading the sample, I quickly downloaded it. So many thought-provoking ideas have grabbed hold of my mind as I read. I'll save my book report for another post, but this is why I have been examining my "all-or-nothing" mentality today:

In her chapter called "In the Rock Tumbler" she begins be reminiscing about her rich spiritual life when she was in junior high. All the spiritual disciplines came so easily and so joyfully. I think about the time in my life that was like that. Bascially anytime prior to becoming a wife and a mother. Basically when all I had to think about was me. Basically when I lived a self-centered exsistence that naturally lended itself to uninterupted prayer times and painted toenails and meeting up for coffee with friends. I don't mean I never struggled or dealt with lack of desire for the things of God, but I had the luxury of only having to worry about my sin. My problems. My needs.

The author compares this to a rock being refined in a gentle, slow-flowing river. Yeah, the rock is being smoothed out but the change takes a long time. There's not a lot of resistence or struggle, but there's not a lot of growth either. It's sweet. It's refreshing. But it is not where sanctification gets its hands dirty and scoops out that corruption.

But things changed. For me, it happened by God sending a husband and children into my world. When this occurred, I was thrilled of course (and still am!) But, as Mrs. Jankovic puts it, your rock is taken out of the serene, gentle stream and placed into a rock tumbler. It's loud and disorienting and jarring. It's dirty in there. You get hit a lot. But, by God, you are changed!

Seriously, your kids are cute. Just upload a picture of Asher playing his guitar and call it a day.

Here's where I'm going. I spend a great amount of mental energy wishing I was more spiritual, beating myself up for not being more disciplined, and wistfully longing for the days when I could read my bible and have my quiet time, and spend meaningful time in prayer without having to accomodate anyone else's needs or schedules. I am comparing life in a stream to life in a tumbler. And then, in my all-or-nothing fallacy-based mindset, I reason that since life can't be like it was in the stream, then why even bother?

But you know what I forgot? That I don't change me. All the faithful practices in the world will not change me. Of course God uses those means, but if he places me in a stage of life where I have the time and stamina for a few desperate words of prayer and a chapter or two of Scripture, then I can trust that He will do all that needs to be done with that meager offering.

But instead, I blow it off all together most days. Because I can't do the "all" that I have decided I must do. But the reality is, I am being changed. In this season that appears to be the least spiritual, the most removed from time with God, He is actually doing the most in me I think.

And probably, one day, I'll get put back in that peaceful river. Much smoother, much more polished than the young stones around me. And I will let them know that God is here, but He will be even closer in the tumbler.


cheryl said...

I enjoyed reading this post. I am all or nothing person as well, and have a hard time with balance.

One Sunday at church, I think you were outside with S, Chad specifically addressed moms of little ones near the end of his sermon about Wisdom (Prov 8). And encouraged us that, according to Scripture, she is calling out to us in the chaos. And although we aren't able to 'get away from it all,' and have a whole lot of 'quiet time', we should be encouraged. Because he said, we aren't called to lived cloistered away and that real life happens amidst the noise, and that, by His grace, He is right there with us.

I am looking forward to reading "Loving the Little Years," it sounds to good!

hilarylarson said...

Books sounds great, fab post as well! A few close friends of mine & I always make this comment: it is about perfection, not progress. i can work on making progress, but perfection is only Jesus, not me. :)

Carly said...


Thank you for writing this post. Its real and honest and uplifting. Its hard not to compare your spiritual life with past times when all you had to think about was your spiritual life, school, and other personal endeavors. Thank you for reminding me that God is the one who does the changing and growing in us. For a reformed person, it should be so easy to remember, but I so struggle always with this idea that I am in charge and have all the control over everything in my life, when its really just fake control. Praise God that I do not have the real control, because I fail constantly. Its so much better to have a perfect person holding the reins.

Carly said...


The "All or Nothing" mentality is really something I've been struggling with lately. Not only with spiritual things, but with making art work. I feel like if I can't go out and make the most beautiful piece of artwork I've ever made, I might as well not even try. But who cares? The reason I'm an artist is because I enjoy the outlet to express myself for me. I once said I wanted to be an artist, but I'd never sell my work, and now I think I have to be some hot shot who's work is all the rage and a hot commodity. Sigh...

Thank you, again.

Dianna said...

Like! I can totally relate and still have to remind myself of these things! You keep writing and I'll keep reading!

hilarylarson said...

actually i meant it is NOT about perfection, it is about progress. geez, i cannot even comment correctly!!! :)

Patti said...

Well, what a nice way to start my Monday! Two posts in a week! I love the rock tumbler metaphor--very apt. You'll have a whole new perspective next time we visit the hall of jewels and minerals at the museum.

Alli said...

Great post, friend. I'm now on my way to emailing you a song. I think you'll know why I sent it. Miss you guys. See you in March?

Blogahon said...

Hey, sent over here from Cheryl's blog.......and glad I was =).

Great, great post!

Your words spoke volumes to me.

And I need to get this book!


Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Beautiful, my friend. Just beautiful. You should blog like this more often.

~the nine of us~ said...

Very good!!
Sometimes I feel like I have been in the tumbler so long that I am scared to be put back in the gentle river. What if the next tumbler is even harder?!? Can we get too comfortable in the tumbler we are in??

Thoughts I am now pondering since reading your post. Again .. Very good!!

(Sent over by Cheryl but have been reading your blog for sometime. I think it was the first year you did the Christmas song title theme and Laura joined. It was fun and you were both so creative :)


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