This question has been on my mind for a few weeks now. It was sparked by the sad events surrounding the death of my blogging friend Lauren's baby; and I was reminded of it again yesterday during a conversation with a friend.
Lauren is the definition of "open book". She shares all the ups and downs of her life with her fellow online community through her blog, Sparkling Adventures. She writes eloquently of fun, hard times, crazy adventures, family, parenting, and marriage. After her seven-month-old baby, Elijah Rainbow, died in difficult circumstances, she has also written about the pain and loss she and her family are walking through. She has received criticism from people who feel she has revealed too much. I think that in the end, her openness and honesty will be seen for what it is: her way of processing her life and providing an accurate record for her children of their childhood. The outpouring of love and support that she is receiving right now from people all over the world is a direct benefit of her willingness to write about her life.
I've always considered myself to be a "what you see is what you get" type of person. I don't pretend to be anything or anyone else other than what I am: a mother of four who spends a great deal of her time at home with her children and obsesses about healthy food: talking about it a lot [a bit too much!] and loves to read, create, and write.
But what else is there? I'm not a shallow person. I've written before about how I've felt when my grandmother and other grandparents have passed away. I had to sit down and think long and hard before I wrote. I don't quickly and easily analyse my feelings, and quite often, unconsciously just ignore them!
My thoughts began to draw themselves into a more complete circle this morning as I read a simple story aloud to Coo. It was the story of Mary and Martha, told in the New Testament gospels. When I was a child, I disliked this story. I have always acutely perceived the tension of it: I am not a "sitting still and listening" Mary. I like to be busy, and always see what needs to be done, like Martha. I am full of ideas for new things, too, and these function as a constant distraction. I have a free ten minutes? I can knit another square or create another homemade card or mix up a batch of cookies!
And in that constant busyness, I cannot fail but miss opportunities to hear what the Spirit is prompting me to do. I often hear, but do not heed because I am in the middle of something important like planning a week's menu of healthy meals. Other times, I hear, but forget because the washing is there, needing to be hung out on the line in a brief interlude of sunshine. Or I hear, but wait until later, and later is too late.
Sometimes I hear and I really do listen. My mind and hands are stilled. I think. And it is in these times that the Spirit speaks to me about what I must do: what I must change in myself, what others are in need of from me [even more than healthy food, good coffee, and relationship], and what I need to guide my thoughts into. I remind myself in these thinking times that I need to process my life. For some people, particularly those who wear their hearts on their sleeves, processing the events in their lives comes naturally to them. For me, it is a discipline to be learned and discovered.
Forgetting is simply what I do. I am so busy I do not even recall many of the challenges in my day by the time bedtime rolls around. They are lost in a jumble of history lessons, reading aloud to kids, food preparation, cleaning, laundry, phone calls and text messages, visitors, prayers for others, and planning.
My journey to a more defined "Mary" life is going to look like this: every Monday, I will blog a "Mary Moments" post, processing the challenges of my past week through writing about them. I will make notes during the week to help me do this! The purpose in blogging my "Mary Moments" will be to define and create a more "open book" life.
Would you like to join me next Monday in beginning this new discipline?
Maybe you already talk about yourself a lot, and in detail. Your last Facebook status or tweet was something like, "Grabbing lunch with the kids at KFC before going home to clean the house, cook dinner, wash the dog, read War and Peace, weed the garden, and drink a homemade espresso."
Dig a little deeper. Forget the details; think about the "stuff". The challenging stuff. Then open your book for the rest of us by commenting here and linking to what you've written.