A Responsive Life

In a world of full agendas, forceful initiatives and frightful busyness, we need free agents, those who have the time, space and energy to respond.

The desire to be flexible and available means that, as a wife and mother, I play a more responsive role than I would have chosen for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I make plans and routines. However, they are often changed based on the needs of the moment in the lives of those around me.

A kiddo with a tummy ache; a friend who needs a babysitter; a husband who needs someone with whom to verbally process life and calling; a pantry that was suddenly emptied by extra guests at dinner; a student who needs a place to cry and escape the pace of college life.

There are days when this responsive life feels both full and fulfilling. There are also days when I feel like a spare part while all the other parts around me have a clearly defined role and niche.

What can feel like a boring and highly unproductive afternoon for me often means an afternoon of space and creativity for my boys. Pictures drawn, Lego worlds created, canyons explored.  Some days that knowledge itself is enough for me; other days, not so much.

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The garden helps: a small domain where I can exercise dominion and make the calls. Exercise helps:  a chance to sweat out the cabin fever. Books help: a chance to keep my brain sharp and engaged. Good friends help: knowing there are others in other neighborhoods  fighting to leave space for a responsive life takes some of the isolation away.

But none of the helps can do what the presence of Christ does. In Him and Him alone, I am reminded and convinced that this is the good life, simply because it is the life He has called me to for this season.

A quote by Alan Jones taped in the spice cabinet of Jan Peterson, wife of Eugene Peterson, reminded me to stay the course in this unclear role this past week.

“To live no tight, neat role is truly sacrificial, it is also truly creative because it leaves us open and free (dare we say) like God Himself.”

Nearly a decade into motherhood, a clear, compelling job description and a business card in which I can place (or misplace) my significance continue to evade me. However,week by week, I experience sweet moments that hold me here in the realm of the responsive. An excited child dragging me down the street to proudly show me some strange creation of sticks and rocks; a sick child giving me a tired but thankful glance as I administer medicine and hugs; a husband who can stop by for lunch when an appointment gets cancelled: these are the perk of being a free agent in God’s kingdom.

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I have so much to learn from these homebodies I am raising. The joy of the small things, the safety of a routine with wide margins, the ability to see magic where most see monotony.

In this responsive life, I model the life of the God who graciously responds to His creatures. Seen in that light, this is no small job but a little slice of the divine life.

Being a free agent is harder than I had surmised yet simultaneously satisfying and sanctifying.

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