Who am I now? [Part 2]

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post, Who am I now?

Yesterday, I posted about struggling with my role during one of life’s in-between phases.  These are some of the questions I’m asking.

1) What defines my role?

When I prioritize my roles, I would say that I am first a follower of Christ, then a wife, then a professional whatever I am.  But my freedom in Christ from guilt and legalism, then, should always trump my preconceived notions of wifedom, wherever they may have come from.  (And ironically, I’m am much better wife when they do.)

“Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” Romans 7:4-6

(Cue legalism.) “But!” My mind protests. “That doesn’t mean I can do whatever I want!”

Right:

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” 1 Peter 2:16

I’m obviously still working out what this looks like, but I know a proper understanding of freedom in Christ just absolutely can’t be achieved without a proper understanding of the gospel:  Jesus Christ died and rose again, and in doing so ushered in a new covenant of grace and adoption that I, inexplicably, belong to.  Serving him is an outpouring of love and gratitude, which I could use a whole lot more of most days.  Which brings me to…

2) What is my motivation? (AKA: Is using my gifts self-seeking, and is that a good excuse not to use them?)

Let’s talk about music, as it’s my best example.  For those of you new to me, I used to play and write a lot of music.  First I played keyboard in a band (my picture’s still on there!), and then I wrote my own songs. I even recorded a CD (on a small budget, mind you — and you can download it for free here).

But I wrote right around the time the Lord was doing a huge, huge work in my life and changed everything all around.  These songs were my way of working through a lot of pain that came from wrestling with issues that overlapped from my old life to my new life.  As I kept changing, my desires changed.  These were all very good things – I was and am so thankful that my life changed and my seared conscience was restored.  But with my restoration of conscience came a lot of fear and worry about my motivation.  I went from worrying hardly at all, to worrying all the time. Suddenly I realized my art was completely about me, and I’m not sure how much other people got out of it, or what they got out of it. 

Does producing good art out of despair ever justify wallowing in self-pity?  When does creation out of a need to create become megalomania? Fiona Apple (a reclusive and reluctant artist herself) pretty much sums up this catch 22 in the following, from a 2006 Paste interview:

I think it’s still ego-driven for me, but I’m not worrying about people thinking I can write a really good song; I’m worried about people listening to me and knowing how I feel … And that doesn’t even make sense to me, a lot of the time … It’s definitely ego-driven. I don’t think I’m a selfish person, but I’m very, very self-centered … I’ve thought a bunch of times, what kind of thing is this that I’ve made my life revolve around—writing about myself? … You look at the facts of it—I write about myself and how I feel about things, and then I get a bunch of people to sit in the dark while I stand in the light, and they quietly listen. That’s gotta be really ego-driven.

I am just now coming to a point where I am reconciling these extremes and coming to the middle of the pendulum, as it were.  But just philosophically — I still haven’t written any new songs.   I suspect the answer to this question lies somewhere in the “using my gifts for Christ, not for myself” spectrum — another deceptively complicated topic for another time. :)

3) What doesn’t work? What does?

Doesn’t:

Ignoring the problem. Becoming stressed to the point of breaking because I’m trying to be some graven image version of myself. Taking my frustration out on my husband by projecting my issues onto him.  Fretting that I will never be [fill in the blank].  Leaving God out of the equation. Comparing myself to other people.

Does:

Well, it would be nice if I knew.  So far?

An early waking time.  For the last couple of months, we’ve been relishing the fact that we live closer to Eric’s job, and it starts later — thus we can wake up as late as 7:30 instead of some horrible hour like I did for teaching this spring.  But that also meant that I didn’t have my quiet time until Eric left for work, when my mind was already distracted by my to-do list.  I’ve started waking up at 6:30 instead (okay, maybe 6:45 some mornings!), and spending time in the Bible and in prayer before I start my morning routine and my mind gets too busy. It’s made a huge difference.

Figuring out a good system for task management.  Right now, calendar schedules are too rigid for me — it’s just me here all day, and my phone beeping at me to shower between 9:00 and 9:15 is unnecessary and overwhelming.  Right now I’m using Google Calendar, synced with Calvetica, to specify blocks of time for general categories of tasks: work, home, and errands.  Then I use Wunderlist to manage task lists for each of those categories, which I can then sort by due date and priority.  When it’s “work” time, I pull up my list and check things off until I’m done or the block of time ends.  Any time not blocked off can be used for whatever I feel like doing or need to do that I haven’t scheduled — eating, showering, sometimes doing extra work, sometimes relaxing.

Pursuing what I love to do.  This is the hard one, because immediately my mind gets overwhelmed by distressing questions I should have gotten out of my system a few years ago, like What DO I love!?? and How can I tell this is what I want to do forever??!? and What if I change my mind??! and What if I’m no good?!  Again, another topic for another day.  For now, let’s leave it at this:

In order to stay sane, for my sake and for the sake of those around me, I must purposefully pursue my talents and passions.  How? Why? When? I have no idea. But you know I’ll tell you when I do.

Despite my attempts at organization, this post came across as more fragmented than I wanted.  I’m sure there are holes, so feel free to ask questions, and please — above all, hear my heart and not my words.

Love,

 

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