Family

slave or servant?

my desk

I tread heavy; movements slow and sluggish as if ankle weights are attached to my lower extremities.  My thoughts are like molasses; lost in greasy sludge where cogent sentences fail to form, words floating like oil bubbles.  It takes all of my willpower to focus on tasks throughout the day; making the process more tiring.  I feel achy and I imagine my white blood cells fending off the intruding antigens; antibodies waiting at the ready to serve and fight.

I am a slave to many things.  Time ticks away and I constantly watch it wondering where it is going.  My shoulders are tight; my eyes feel the strain as I work on the various items upon my work desk.  Numbers and dollar signs change on the computer screen and I am a beholden to them; my quality of life dependent on the peaks and valleys.  My mind wanders to my home and its constant state of disarray.  I remind myself to let it be but find myself placing a jacket on a hangar, washing one more dish.  Everything needs a place.  If I cannot put it somewhere, catalog it or define it; it gets lost in the sludge.

How do I become less of a slave and more of a servant?

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Last evening I sat alone at a table, nibbling on a salad as music emanated from speakers around me.  I was at my children’s spring program and was sprinting from one place to another; barely catching glimpses of my two sons in their various grade performances.   I serve on a committee to raise funds for my middle son’s class so that they can enjoy trips to theme parks and receive amazing goodie bags and mementos of their last year in elementary school.  Mind you, this is for the 2013-2014 school year.  Exhausted from coordinating and serving I sat at my kitchen table later that evening, alongside the hubs, and wondered if all the effort was really worth it.

I feel that way about life, sometimes, too.

1 Peter 4:10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

When I chose to be a servant it was with the above intention; sharing my gift (whatever that gift actually is).  I do so, willingly, and think nothing of myself or family; much to the detriment of my kids and husband.  While I serve others is it fair that I miss my own kids’ and husband’s needs?  To put others above self?  This truly is the question the hubs and I debate back and forth about.  In serving the whole, do the individuals suffer?   In what form is my works administering God’s grace?

The constant lament of the hubs is, “Why does it always have to be you?”  There were countless people sitting in the grass watching the performance.  I stood beside the other, few parents, who made the same choice as myself.  Why is it always the few who do the work for many?

Normally, these questions don’t enter my conscious mind to be bothered by them.  But, today,  the lethargy has set in, the questions insidiously lurking.   Is this what the apostles felt like, doing the work for Jesus and God?  How on Earth did they keep going when surrounded with unbelievers.   I am not on some religious crusade; nor do I seek glory or reward.  Why am I compelled to always serve?

It’s so much easier to give in, to become one of the many.  The ease and comfort of having things done for us is very tempting; choosing the path of least resistance.  Muscle fibers come to mind.  During resistance training we put stress on our muscle fibers and create micro tears; hoping they will rebuild and become thicker; stronger.  But there is a limit to the amount of stress you can place on a muscle fiber before you pull it; causing damage.  I’m wondering when I will discover my limit; when the works become too much.

And then I think of parenting.  Just when you think you’ve mastered the art of parenting your child throws you a curve ball!  This push-pull tension of give- and- take, supposedly, builds character.   There are days when I have endless patience and others when it snaps.  Building character.  Under times of great duress you truly realize how much strain you can manage.  The added responsibility of having others rely on me reminds me to place one foot in front of the other.

Am I a slave or a servant?  I went to ahdictionary.com to find out.   American Heritage Dictionary Online

slave n. 1. One who is owned as the property of someone else, especially in involuntary servitude. 2. One who is subservient to or controlled by another: his boss’s slave. 3. One who is subject to or controlled by a specified influence: a slave to alcohol; a slave to an irrational fear.

servant n. 1. One who is privately employed to perform domestic services. 2. One who is publicly employed to perform services, as for a government. 3. One who expresses submission, recognizance, or debt to another: your obedient servant.

Am I owned versus employed?  One infers there is no choice; the other does.  I think I am a little bit of both.  I started relating this to theology.  Am I God’s slave or God’s servant?  Does time, money or vanity own me or do I make the choice to let these vices consume me?  In serving, what is my purpose?  Surely I am not trying to raise money for my kids’ grade level for God’s glory?  Does my son need a trip to Disneyland?  Will he remember his elementary school memento years down the road?  Or will he remember that his mom missed his performance during his spring program.
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I don’t want to be either of the above.  I want to forge my own path.  I want the choice to do things because I want to.  What I need to remind myself of, is that, even when you choose to do things; doesn’t necessarily mean they come out they way you expect.  Choosing something doesn’t ensure happiness.  I guess, sometimes, things choose you.
I no longer wear my watch since I am a slave to the clock.  I try not to worry about bills and bank statements.  I don’t mind working but I need to spend equal quality time with my family.  As for vanity, I’ve stopped looking at mirrors and numbers on a scale.  It is okay to have a messy house even though it drives me crazy.  In the end will the kids remember the immaculate home or the things we did together instead of cleaning it?  Moderation and balance versus extremes.  I am working my way towards the middle.
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