Sunday, May 3, 2009

Letting Go

Years ago, when mythree daughters gave up their dolls, teddy bears, and ambitions to become Ariel, The Little Mermaid, I was horrified to discover they were growing up. Fast. They'd become more independent. They did their own laundry, made their own lunches, drove themselves to play practice, work, and their friends' houses. For the first time in years, I actually had a little time on my hands.

Free time? The notion was completely foreign. I jumped at the chance to do something for myself, for the first time since they were born.

I wanted to write. Draw. Sing. Improve my piano skills. Learn violin. Take gorgeous photographs. Increase my gardens to impossibly delightful dimensions. Cook the most elegant, gourmet meals. Travel. Visit local wineries. Frequently. (LOL). I also pined for something more... something spiritual.

This "awakening" coincided with the appearance of a new pastor in our tiny country church. He was phenomenal: a decent, genuine, loving, inspirational man. His religious philosophies matched mine. He didn't talk about God exacting revenge or becoming wrathful. He talked of love and acceptance and forgiveness. When I sat in on any of his sermons, I walked away with a glow in my heart that carried me for the whole week. Reverend Tom made me want to be a better person, and I was hooked.

For a year or two, I took on more and more church responsibilities. There were very few of us, and many committee jobs that needed filling. I felt a loss when I didn't attend each Sunday.

Over the next few years, things changed. My eldest daughter moved home with her two baby boys. My writing career became much more serious, with promotional efforts demanding time as well as the creative obsession that stalked me daily. If I didn't write, I felt cheated. I had to write to be whole. And my little grandsons needed my love and attention as much as I needed them. Of course, there was also the obligatory "day job" that sucked up ten hours a day.

When Reverend Tom moved on to a larger church., I was devastated. Since the current minister didn't give me the same "lift" that Tom did, I slowed my attendance to spend more time with my grandsons and to keep my LeGarde series going.

I backed out of some meetings. Started a new paranormal mystery series. Then finally, I made "the call" to the Reverend Sally.

"I'm sorry. I just can't do it all anymore."

The phone calls began. "We need you! We miss you!" Parishioners begged me to return, lamenting the loss of my help. Guilt flooded me each time, but I stuck to my decision and did what was right for me at the time. I still miss the people of the church, and know I'll return someday when things calm down, but for now, I'm sure God understands. There are many ways to worship, and it doesn't always have to be inside the church.

Whether it's a church committee, or some other committment of time that drains you and steals your writing time - grant yourself permission to back off and give yourself a break! It's okay NOT to do it all, and it's okay to change priorities, even if you've said "Yes," in the past.

In this time of high stress, economic hardship, and when we often push ourselves beyond our limits, it's a good idea to make a list and prioritize. Cut out the items that are not absolutely essential, and go from there. Remember, you can always reprioritize when the need arises. And for you writers, be sure your writing makes it to the top section of the list! And that applies to every other form of art or means of nourishing your soul.

All right. Now that you've decided to eliminate the things you can live without - get out there and feed your soul! And remember to write like the wind!

- Aaron


s.w. vaughn said...

Amen to this, Aaron! (Ha ha...)

Seriously, you're right. It's so easy to become over-committed, and so hard to back out of things you feel you "should" be doing.

I know some people who should read this. Maybe then they'd realize I'm not completely bonkers for suggesting that God isn't going to strike me dead for not going to church. :-)

And that photo of the water and the clouds is GORGEOUS!

Kim Smith said...

I sure needed to hear this one, Aaron! And I have missed your long "filling" posts with pictures. thanks for sharing!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Thanks, SW. ;o) You live the life of a good woman - you are an example for all of us, and I know your family would agree. That photo was taken one early morning at the cabin on Honeoye Lake (my friend's place that we rent once in a while.) It was like being in a nature-church. ;o)

Awww, thanks, Kim. I've missed doing this! I need to stay connected with my friends, it makes life so much better!

Ericka Scott said...

This is soooo very true...I have the hardest time saying no, and am even now struggling with a decision about what I need to give up in order to better balance my life.

Sheila Deeth said...

A familiar tale - committing, then no one wants to let you let go. Great article. Thanks.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Thanks, Ericka and Sheila! Have a wonderful evening. ;o)