Thursday, April 22, 2010

Schedule, Routine, Legalism, Grace, Self-Discipline

What do those words have in common? They're all floating around in my head as I try to sort out some of the discouragement I feel and adopt a strategy for finishing this school year on a positive note.

I think the problem is that I'm legalistic by nature. I'm wired to like organization, schedules, and order. That was pretty easy to accomplish when I only had 2 or 3 kids, and only preschoolers. Wait - let me rephrase that. It wasn't "easy" - it was a lot of work. But you know what I mean - it was more, shall we say, "doable." It was also very tempting to be proud of my accomplishments, of my skills - and forget that it was only God's grace, blessing my feeble efforts.

Fast forward a few years - and 2 more kids. Life is far busier. The hyper-organized, scheduled-to-the-minute lifestyle just doesn't work as well. I'm frustrated, burned out. I decide (this was back in 07 or 08, I think) that schedules are out and we'll just have a 'routine' and fly by the seat of our pants. I won't worry about the house being all clean. I won't stress about the little things. Let's lighten up & chill out.

The problem with that was it went counter to my own personality and I can only handle being laid back for so long before I completely lose it and go on a cleaning rampage and turn our house into military school, lol. I believe my God-given temperament towards being orderly is corrupted by sin and pushes me into legalism. I need to show myself grace in this area. But I'm coming to realize that, though corrupted, it IS a God-given temperament. It's foolish of me to try to operate counter to my personality, warts and all.

That brings me to the present. I work the best, and am the most at peace, in a somewhat ordered atmosphere. I obviously need to pray for the grace to be flexible and adaptable to the unexpected (something that admittedly has challenged me.) However, not only does my personality gravitate toward order, but God is a God of order, not confusion. In the past, I may have taken that to an unhealthy place. But I (hope) am a little more mature now, and can use order as a principle and not a taskmaster.

To that end, I'm eagerly anticipating the arrival on my doorstep of a new book: A Mother's Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul by Holly Pierlot. My childhood friend and blogger over at St. Theophan's has recommended it often. Now, I'm not Orthodox or Catholic, but I believe as sisters in Christ we have much to share in order to encourage and be encouraged. I've not read the book yet (obviously, duh! just ordered it today with a B & N gift card left from Christmas), but my understanding is that the author applies some of the principles of Managers of Their Homes with a more spiritual focus -and I think, more grace in understanding how a schedule serves a higher purpose, and serves US - not the other way around. Applying a 'rule' of regular times of prayer and praise and Ecclesiastes 3:1 - "for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven."

Charlotte Mason put a lot of emphasis on developing good habits. Like laying the tracks for the trains to run on, she said. I think applying some of the principles in A Mother's Rule will help me develop a habit of praise and prayer, not only in myself, but in my children. Hopefully at this point, I will have the discernment to apply the principles as a blessing, and not allow them to become drudgery and rote.

Motherhood is our vocation, as Luther would say, our calling. Whether we homeschool or not, we have a big job. We each bring different gifts, skills, and personalities to our roles as mothers. I think that perhaps this book will fit well with me. It's probably not for everyone, and that's ok. But I'm feeling a lack of focus in our home and our homeschool and could use a little encouragement to get back on the track. I'll let you know what I think!


Mindy said...

I found your blog and read this post - I feel the same way alot of times! I have read the book and it's pretty good - lots of ideas to implement. I do the same thing of throwing out the schedule, house stuff in an effort to be more "go with it" but it always ends up biting me back :( Thanks for sharing!

Mike Tant said...

Jen - well written and expressing one form of the tension we all experience as we strive to serve God in our day to day responsibilities.
Love, Dad

Andrea said...

Sounds a lot like me. A lot! ANd I agree that it's not good to totally fight the bent that God has given your personality. I have found that I NEED structure but it is so easy to be STRESSED by structure, ya know?
What I'm finding works for me, is to start with structure but to allow myself lots of flex with it. That, and TOTALLY relying on communication with God for EACH day.
Hope this book hold many blessings for you and that you can finish the race strong!