I’ve become too efficient.
Not exactly what you expect to hear from a mom of four (one of them only 12 weeks old) is it?
Last week while making homemade graham crackers with my two-year-old, I slowed down long enough to see I had become painfully efficient. With his grubby little hands wedged next to mine on the handles of the rolling pin, I knew this inefficient, less effective method was one my heart (and his heart) had missed.
I dare say, on more days than I’d care to fess up to, efficiency became an idol over the last several months. The choices I made, how I measured my worth for the day, and the standard I held my people to–at the center was this idol. And, I became agitated with anyone or anything who slowed me down; my words became counted and short with our babies, and I begrudged Mark for slowing down to sit for a few minutes.
You see, we had a season that demanded me to be unrelentingly task-oriented.
Based on a directive from God, many months before, we had made plans to sell our home in March. The pre-selling project list didn’t seem daunting until we had only weeks left to finish it, I was in my third trimester of pregnancy, and Mark unexpectedly was gone for a week. But, we rallied and sold the house. Two weeks before we closed on the house, our Ryker was born–his birth ushered in a short period of “unproductive” days for me since he required a c-section delivery. I had a forced period of several weeks in which I was anything but efficient. And, it was beautiful — my man took the household lead and kept our other three babies fed and bathed, he made sure clean clothes were in our drawers and that I always had a full water bottle and a snack nearby. I mostly soaked in the days of my tasks being: feed Ryker, hold Ryker, read stories to my other people, and sneak in a nap.
But, as I recovered and was able to reinstate my normal role in our home, it was almost as if that idol of efficiency urged me to make up for lost time. And then, to top it off, it was time to pack our family of six–and I became hyper-efficient.
Packing our home of 9 years was daunting; trying to fit the task into the slivers of time between feedings for a newborn ushered me into the land centered on efficiency. Screen time for the kids increased dramatically, dinners were the same 3 simple meals on repeat, our floor collected crumbs for days because I wouldn’t pause my packing to sweep. And my quick movements and measured moments invaded the space in my heart that used to have time to listen to my 8-year old’s 10 minute story.
Now, hear me, there are seasons made for relishing and seasons that simply require survival. The two weeks leading up to our move were survival weeks–we were packing the house, attending all of the events that come with the end of the school year for Audrey, feeding a newborn, and my people still kept creating laundry to wash, fold, and put away. There is no mom guilt allowed when in these short survival seasons you bake the cookies for the last day of school by yourself (or just buy them at the store for goodness sake) and hand your tiny helper an ipad. During these days, I accepted that this was just a short season, and after we moved, I wouldn’t find myself so often telling my people, “I can’t right now. I’m sorry.”
But, you see, though it was exhausting to be efficient all day long, I wasn’t entirely sorry; it also felt marvelous. I could literally list all that I accomplished in the day; I could see the stacks of boxes and the empty shelves and cupboards and think, Wow! Look at all I did. And this worshipping of efficiency, this centering my choices around getting the most done in the least amount of time invaded my days even after our move. Of course, there were the first few days that absolutely required devoted time to unpacking so we could find our underwear, forks, and Hot Wheels cars.
But, as I stood at the counter last week rolling out cookie dough with my boy–God reminded me that getting it done the quick way isn’t always the best way. In the moments of squishing dough together and re-rolling because he made a handprint before we could cut the squares, I heard God whisper to my soul that He is not a God who is in a rush. If he isn’t rushing, I can probably slow my roll too. His Word clearly tells me that He orders my steps (Psalm 37:23), and right now He is telling me my steps need to be slower.
I know I’m not the first to write about slowing down to enjoy our people, and I will not be the last. But hear my warning– a season of required efficiency carved its way into an idol in my heart. When we look at the stories in the Bible of the Israelites literally carving false gods and worshipping them, it is easy to see just how silly and useless the worship of those gods was. But, those literal idols are meant to be pictures for us of the idols we so easily allow to be built up in our hearts–mine wasn’t a golden calf, but that doesn’t make my false god any prettier than theirs.
The relationships we create and foster with our children, open their hearts to the Father; the time I take (or don’t take) to slow down and listen, reflects to young hearts the interest of their Heavenly parent.
So, survive the survival seasons, but don’t carry that survival mentality into the new season God brings for you.