"All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full."
- King Solomon
I awoke to lightning. Now rain pours over us and runs like a river down the pavement below our windows. The world outside is purple, even though it is well past 7:00. Last night I planned to visit the gardens, go for a long walk, and shop. But the rain, with no one's forecast, just took over the world.
It feels like a parable. I have lived through months of mornings like this. It makes me ask:
How Can I Live Well When Life is so Wild?
I have asked myself this question often. Now, with rain pattering the windows and my first cup of coffee steaming beside me, I turn through the pages of my journal. I come across an entry from September. Three simple ideas. So simple, I might pass over them. But they have helped me in every situation where I remembered them.
1. Be Intentional: I need to be intentional about how I spend my time. There is a constant pull to be in a hurry, in a blur -- to be absorbed by busyness and distraction, to be carried down the river of demands, to be jostled about all day by wind and rain and traffic. To live well, I must resist this pull and choose deliberately. I must do it again and again.
Being intentional means I will review what I have done, reflect upon it, and use that to make new choices. I have found that Sunday afternoon is a good time for this. We like to go to a coffee shop. I think over the past week, perhaps talk to my husband, and then decide what I will focus on next.
2. Be Free. I have freedom to choose. I need to remember this at all times. Although I live in a river, I do not have to be carried along. God had given me a paddle by which I may steer my little canoe -- the paddle of choice. I can choose how to organize my efforts, where to lean, when to stop. The current is fast and demanding, but it does not have to be all. If I live deliberately, it won't be. This one thing makes all the difference: I should pick up my paddle daily and choose.
The best way to practice this is to develop the habit of pausing: just pause and think, then pursue a course of action. I should resist people who want to press me to do things quickly or in a particular way. No one who truly respects me will try to overwhelm my free will.
3. Be Aware. Since I have surrendered my life to God, I should expect him to be guiding it. My Lord knows what I need beforehand. He prepares for me. He takes care of me. One of the ways he does this is by leading me forward. What signs, unexpected provisions, and repeated impressions can I notice along the way? He will show me where to push my canoe along the current.
When I reflect about my week, I should ask myself where these repeated impressions are showing up or where there has been unexpected provision of some kind. This is the simplest way to see where God is guiding me and leading me forward. I should have a place where I can record it.
These simple concepts were written in my journal last fall. Since then, they have helped me in every situation where I remembered them.
What helps you live well when life is wild?