Monday, September 13, 2010

Will Vs. Willingness

Just now, as I sit here with two sleeping kiddos and just a bit of time on my hands before one of them wakes up for his first of many nightly feedings, I was pondering how best to spend my time. Sleep? Not yet: I will be awakened too soon for that to be a good idea at the moment. Read a magazine? I usually save those as treats for a bathtime soak. Work on my scrapbook? I started a new one for both kiddos for this school year (September to August), but I am up to date on the cover page and don't want to print out September pictures yet. Finish sorting floss for my new cross stitch? Maybe...but I could sneak that in during the day possibly. Also, I am just tired enough to make diddling with floss seem a bit like a production.

Blog? Well, I must admit, I have spent the past week contemplating giving up on my blog. I rarely seem to have the time, and lately I have been feeling like I need to redefine my blog's purpose. What is it that I really want to accomplish each time I sit down to write?

It hasn't helped that I have felt overwhelmed this past weekend. Why were women designed with only two arms? We need at least six arms and for two of those to be elastic and able to bend around corners. I usually like to be a blogger who puts optimism and joy and a can-do spirit into the blogosphere---I'd like to think the purpose of this blog is to inspire people to find whatever is best and joyful in themselves and to encourage my readers to create their own magic. Yet I am no sort of advice giver when I myself feel overwhelmed. Right?

On the other hand, I was just reading about the perils of keeping one's flaws secreted from the world. It is a form of self-sabotage, I read. I guess so. I tend to think we should not dwell on our flaws or weaknesses but to try to rise above them. As I have struggled the past few days, however, with my own perfectionism and pride, I had the thought that perhaps we are given children in order to humble us and to make us know our limitations: we simply cannot do everything, as much as we'd like to.

I have had to remember, in this time of exhaustion and bodily weariness, that I must maintain a heart full of gratitude, a mind full of perspective, and a spirit full of willingness.

Earlier today, I almost had phrased this as a "spirit full of will." I realized then that there is a difference between "will" and "willingness." The idea of "will" seems to suggest that I still believe I am in total control, whereas "willingness" seemed to me to suggest more of an open-mindedness to follow life as it comes. My very problem this weekend has been one of "will" versus "willingness." To be willing is to be open to learning and to be spontaneous with my family. To be full of will is to want to impose my order, timing, and ambition on things. When we are willing, we are willing to laugh at ourselves, to marvel, to take joy in how life unfolds before us. When we are willing, we can meet challenges with elegance and grace.

When we are full of will, however, we frustrate ourselves when life will not be controlled. We grumble at challenges. We are not open to the magic and miracle of things.

It is the story of my bread.

I baked some bread yesterday. In a rush. Half-hearted. I wanted it to work on my timing without putting the care into it. Will. I overheated the yeast, rushed the kneading process, and overcooked it because I failed to pay attention to its aroma. It was a disaster, the most disastrous bread I have baked in a long time. A brick. I wanted it to work without be willing to be present in the process, rushing everything, forcing it to fit into my day. I let it sit overnight as I pondered its fate: eat it begrudgingly, or admit to myself that I had failed and start anew?

My spirit this morning wasn't sure it was willing... And then I realized that I needed to readjust myself. It was time to remake my bread, and to do it the moment, without rushing, however long it took in between feeding both children and tending to their needs. Sure enough, it took much longer than one would think, even to finish making the dough. Yet when I baked it off several hours later, the loaf was truly one of my finest: delicate, moist, delicious. I found myself willing: willing to try, willing to restart, willing to embrace the natural timing and rhythms of my life with two children.

Will versus willingness. Which one is dominant in you at this moment? Is there a difference between the two? How do we embrace willingness in order to increase our joy?

Willingness. Let it bring joy into your life.