The Art of Giving Up
A few years ago, I ordered the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Everybody else was going on and on and on about how it had inspired them to declutter their homes and lives. We didn’t live in a very big place at the time (a 700-square-foot apartment), and I can remember staring, despairingly, into one of the few drawers we had. There wasn’t much in that drawer that particularly brought me joy. It wasn’t like I could start tossing out the spatula and potato peeler to make room for more art supplies. I wound up throwing away a few birthday candles and a plastic serving spoon that had gotten too close to the burner.
Don’t get me wrong. There was plenty of clutter that needed to be addressed. In fact, our current house is nearly double in size, and I have a home office and basement that need immediate attention, but my problem…as I came to see it…had more to do with other things I needed to give up.
You might have stumbled across this article in the hopes that I would somehow give you permission to throw in the towel. What you are facing is too hard. In fact, if you have been homeschooling for any length of time, you understand that the road you’re on can be long and bumpy. In other words…homeschooling ain’t for wimps.
Maybe you are dealing with other challenges in your life: a health issue, a difficult relationship or an unrealized goal. The next few pieces of advice I am about to give you came through a few tough years of self-reflection. Take it for what it’s worth.
There is magic in the art of Giving Up a Grudge.
Maybe you are holding on to some hard feelings. Relationships can be nasty. People can be nasty. Undoubtedly, there is someone in your life that will, at some point, say something that will hurt you. Don’t let those unresolved feelings of unforgiveness and hurt occupy your heart. They will begin to fester and sour, coloring every moment and situation in your life. Holding a grudge does nothing but hold you back.
There is magic in the art of Giving Up Expectations.
There is nothing wrong with certain kinds of expectations. I have an expectation that my teenage son will complete his daily chores in a timely and responsible manner. I expect him to do the best he can in his studies. I expect him to take on more responsibility with his education than he did when he was younger. I can expect my husband and I to have a healthy and loving relationship. We have put in the years and the effort. We have grown together and understand that we have to work together to make our little family unit a healthy one.
What I can’t expect are things that are unreasonable or unrealistic. Have I been training my son in how to manage his time? Does he know what responsibility looks like because I expect it of not only him, but myself? Am I imagining my husband to be anything more than he is, or am I placing unfair expectations on him? Whatever it is, we have to make sure that we are expecting the good things and the God things in life…not just what the world tells us we should have.
There is magic in the art of Giving Up the Battle.
Are you at war with your circumstances? Maybe you are at some place in your life you never imagined you would be? There comes a time when we must either give up, make the most of what has been placed in our hands, or we battle on until we become bitter.
My futile attempts at finding joy in decluttering had nothing to do with the actual act of getting rid of stuff. I was just trying to take control of SOMETHING in my life. I wanted a bigger place to live. I wanted homeschooling to be easier. I wanted to not worry about my health. I wanted to make everybody in my life happy.
I was weary in battle. Giving up meant that I could finally rest in WHAT WAS. It’s not like the fragrance of contentment wafted over my soul immediately. Wafting can take some time.
I began to focus on making our small home a place of peace and refuge. Friday mornings, my guys could expect a waffle breakfast. I placed beautiful things around our home: original pieces of art, vintage treasures…just enough to make me smile. I started putting Scripture in strategic places: They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. I had to give up and just wait.
I began to change the tenor of our homeschool. My dyslexic son was weary. I started planning elements of fun. He began to look forward to our days. We went to concerts in the park. We listened to audio books about swashbuckling adventures and spine-tingling mysteries. We explored places close to home and found a whole world beyond a traditional style of education. I had to give up and just do.
I began taking control of my own health. Whereas life had thrown some nasty things my way, I had to respond, in kind, with life-giving words and attitudes. Believe me, I had to stop focusing on what was and give myself up to what I knew to do: put good things in my body, get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, and give up those attitudes, expectations and battles I had been holding on to. I had to give and LIVE!
The “art of giving up” is not a one-time event. It is something that must be reexamined over and over again. Am I finding contentment in my “whatevers,” or am I battling…using my grudges and expectations as my weapons?
Here is one more question, dear friends. What do you need to give up?
Rebekah Teague is the homeschooling mama to one busy and beautiful boy. She is married to The Muffin who is a pastor and a really great guy. In her spare time she can be found with a book and a cup of tea. She blogs at There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
(chargeforwhining.blogspot.com) – link for words in blue above