It was Tuesday morning, circa 8:50am: homeschool co-op day was upon us, where I’ve been entrusted with an hour of activities and playtime for the boisterous toddler set. Except I had no activity planned.
My fully-adult baby brother and sister came to visit the night before which meant I’d stayed up late talking about all the things. Sibling time is soul food, and therefore worth shirking other obligations for occasionally. Right? So there was simply no time to squeeze out to prepare for class. Not a drop. (This is where you all smile and nod your head and pretend like it was grossly unreasonable for me to carve out a twenty minute slice of prep time in the two weeks between co-op classes. Ahem.)
But honorable and brave woman that I am, I became fully committed to preparing for class 20 minutes before I had to leave for said class. Procrastination calls for nothing more than a healthy dose of creativity.
As a side-this is probably why my home is in the state it is: The theme is basically “functional chaos”. While I’ve gotten more organized over the years (I can literally hear some of you snickering right now), I’ve mostly learned the art of “creative cleaning” which is more focused on appearance than legitimate clean. For instance, I still have papers everywhere, some stuck on the wall, some stuck in “planners” (some good they do me), but mostly I stick them in baskets now. That’s better. To actually sort the papers, well, that’s asking me to exert a great deal of my limited decision-making ability. (How does anyone decide the destination of one more financial paper or half-scribbled coloring page and remain sane?) And when it comes to “cleaning” my kitchen, well…I’m much better at artistically stacking the dishes in such a way that the counter appears clean. Ta-da! (If you want a further window into my home, read this blog post by my friend about HER HOME. It was scarily relateable and will give you a chuckle!)
But where was I? Yes. 8:50am. Nothing planned. So my mind played this out: “It’s fall- we’ll just print out some tree coloring pages. Yes. Oh! Here we go…this one is great (clicking print)..and I can totally have them glue on the extra tissue paper I have cut up from 2 classes ago. Um…except what are we going to do for glue? I don’t think I have time to find all the glue-y things. Um…wait…I do however have an excessive number of alphabet stickers. Alphabet…tree-…the Book! Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!
We’ll make a fall themed Alphabet tree and I’ll bring my book if I can find it. Hallelujah, it’s on the shelf. What are the odds? Aaaand…let’s go!”
So out I ran, probably reminding my kids that they should know enough to get in the car and get buckled without me asking, and probably blaming them somewhat for why we’re always late, when in reality my last-minuteness is killing us.
When my class started 10 or so kiddos filed in, and the territorial squishy-block wars began as usual, with a couple quieter ones on the fringes playing with magnet dolls or trains. But then, miracle to behold, my most active boys were totally engaged in the story- kids were chanting “Boom! Boom!” in adorable disunity, and most of the kids sat patiently for the craft as well. My heart swelled almost as much as my pride as I confidently proclaimed myself “brilliant” and beyond gifted at the art of creative procrastination. You know what, let’s just call it creativity.
Later that day, I pulled a similar creativity stunt for our non-existent dinner plans- I whipped together some concoction of stew that I believe to be one of my best ever, and which I’ll never be able to duplicate because I, um, just used whatever popped into my head. Go me.
Except I started thinking…creativity is a blessing, yes…it’s a strength of mine. But do I sometimes rely on it to avoid actually working? Yes, sometimes I come up with things on the spot and they are AMAZING. But other times, my kids suffer from my lack of planning and wonder what on earth the schedule is going to be today? Sometimes, my spontaneity actually takes up MORE time. Sometimes I think that if I just planned a bit better, I might actually save more money on food and feed my kids less PB&J. (not that I’m knocking that!) Maybe what I’d like to call creativity is a cover up for weaknesses I’m less thrilled to admit- being late to things, feeling overwhelmed simply because I didn’t sort out my week, not giving myself FULLY to a task or following through completely on things because I’m creatively bandaiding it for now.
For the life of me, if I knew how to insert an emoticon, I’d put a sad little questioning face right here.
I’ve been thinking about how our strengths can often be part of our weaknesses… About what it means to acknowledge what I’m good at and what I’m not and surrender it all to God to be used in His way. And that probably means I need to wake up a little and do some housecleaning of my heart and stop making excuses for the parts of myself that need work.
What about you? Where have you found that your strengths and weaknesses collide? What practical steps have you taken to address your weaknesses? How have you found yourself surrendering it all to God? I’d love to hear your story!