Washing my hair this morning, enjoying the soft, hot water rushing over my body, a message came into my thoughts, “Be easy on yourself today.”
Okay, I thought. I’ll go easy on myself and enjoy each moment. I’ll not let the tyranny of lists defeat me. I’ll make the easier decisions today and take all-the-things-I-desperately-need-to-find-out a tad more casually.
Stepping out of the shower, then, I realized that I didn’t know what this “easy on yourself” message meant. What was I to do – not do? Was it an ominous warning to prepare for something unkind seeping through the cracks of my family or work?
Was it a message to not blame myself if someone were to fall ill or die? I felt a rising doubt, anxiety.
I decided to think it over by doing a rote task. Towels from their hooks were lifted and pitched. I took the laundry basket downstairs, though carefully. Doing something that I would regret, like tripping over a trailing shirt sleeve, say, and falling down the stairs this morning, could be the reason for such a message. It could be a warning. I pulled out the shirts and pants. Spraying on stain remover, counting to sixty as it soaked in, I then began to push dirty clothes into the dryer.
This is not the washing machine, dear. The little message was showing its potential to make me neurotic! I tugged out the towels and clothing and tossed them together into the washing cylinder. Then, I switched the program to one notch lower in heat than usual.
Next, I opened and tied back the curtains on either side of our front door. That sweet light coming through those sheer panels, the green grass, longish and wet with last night’s rain, and the boughs of blue spruce edging around the corners of the sky brought a sigh. My shoulders rolled back for the gift of a new day.
Going into the kitchen, I decided to make a banana smoothy. Just a half cup, with one small ripening banana and vanilla and nutmeg. I also started the coffee. The feelings of curiosity and wonder continued to follow me. Then, I began to feel sadness at the thought that I’ve started days like this before, only to end up “doing something real quick that needed some desperate attention” and falling into extreme anxiety for all that I was unable to accomplish at the end of the day.
Looking into my dining room, I spied my Bible and decided to read the next chapter in 2 Chronicles. It was about a very bad king of Judah, who had enjoyed a murderous reign until, as prophesied, his intestines spilled out and he died, unmourned. His wicked son, Ahaziah, molded by his embittered mother, Athaliah, only reigned one year. This was because he was slain by someone named Jehu who was anointed by God to execute judgment on that evil household. No-one mourned this king’s passing either, except his mother who went into a murderous frenzy. I prayed, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”
Bill called. I told him about the message-in-the-shower to give myself a break today, so I’m trying to do that. He laughed, put in a dinner request for crockpot roast, then went back to work.
I turned my eyes to the following chapter, how Athaliah, the enraged widow of King Jehoram, mother of the assassinated Ahaziah, set about killing the entire royal family of Judah upon learning of her son’s demise. But, the lesser daughter of the murderous father, King Jehoram, also being the half-sister of the bad king, Ahaziah, set her stealthy wit to act against her bitter sister-in-law, Athaliah. Raised and surrounded by a conniving, murderous family, Jehosheba had married a temple priest, who became a man of God.
Yes, somehow, she escaped the family character. Yet, she had access to the palace.
When she saw that her sister-in-law was going to kill all of the royal princes, she stole away the youngest prince and hid him in a room with his nurse and then brought him to her husband, the priest.
They raised the boy for six years while the evil sister-in-law reigned her terrors.
Then the text says, “In the seventh year Jehoiada showed his strength.” Wow. I liked that phrase. It goes on to describe how the man of God had been thinking about all of King David’s swords from his mighty men stored for posterity in the temple. He’d been thinking about God’s covenant with David’s household. Wound up, he sprang into action.
He called up all of the Levites and heads of Israelite families from all the towns. The priestly musicians came with their musical instruments used for worship and praise and other fanfare. He led all of these priests and heads of households into making a covenant together to put the rightful young prince onto David’s throne and to swear allegiance to him.
Jehoiada, the priest, warned those who were not consecrated priests and therefore prohibited from entering the temple of the Lord, not to enter because they would be put to death. Their objective was to guard the rightful king and stay close to him or sing and play a fanfare. He told them to hold up the ancient swords, focus on their jobs, and not get too curious about what was going on in the temple. He separated the whole assembly into thirds.
One third of the assembly was to guard the doors of the temple, one-third was to guard the royal palace and one-third was to guard the Foundation Gate. All other family members were to hang out in the courtyards of the temple and shout “Long Live the King!” when the young Joash was crowned.
This is what they did. When the wicked Athaliah heard the trumpets blowing, the people rejoicing, the musicians leading praises from all these areas, she tore her robes and shouted, “Treason! Treason!”
But Johoiada the priest instructed the commanders of the troops to bring out the woman, Athaliah, and kill her and all who followed her to the gate before she could get near the temple. No talking, no reasoning, no arguing. After that, the people went down to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of his altars.
Johoiada appointed the priests to their assignments as King David had outlined and ordered, and all of the people rejoiced because Athaliah had been slain with the sword.
What a classic drama, epic proportions!
What a fun read!
The laundry calls ding-ding-ding-ding-ding, finished! Oh, dear. I’ve been distracted.
So, the basket is filled with cleaned fabrics, and I carry it upstairs.
I see the stack of mailing boxes I’ll be needing to pick through today in order to post a set of books to a retail chain store buyer. I compare them all and pull out the largest one from my stash in the closet. Then, I find a pretty mailing label, but the labels are outdated. I’ll have to edit or recreate them and get more printed. Where did I hide those suckers? If I can find where I’ve hidden the file on my computer or perhaps a thumb drive, I need to do that soon. Sigh.
Dismissing the incident, I go easy on myself.
I open up my laptop, and instead of getting right to work. I jump up. Maybe I should take a walk first? Opening the door, I feel the chill, check the thermostat, and appraise the watery street. It’s too cold and wet to walk. I shut the door and go easy on myself.
Two projects for my books eat through an hour of time, so I hire someone to help me finish each of them. I go easy on myself.
I rip out two pages from a book I wrote that has now been edited to pieces. If I give this book out as a freebie, I don’t want those pages in there. After the pages go into the kindling pile beside the fireplace, I begin to regret the mess that I’ve made of this book. Then, I stop.
I go easy on myself.
Shaky with hunger, I pour half a bag of cheese onto an almond flour fake tortilla shell, cap it with another fake tortilla shell, and shove the plate into the microwave. When it’s melted, I slice up the quesadilla, add salsa and sour cream and down the whole thing in a moment.
What have I done? Is that the kind of eating tradition that will kill me?
Going easy on myself, I turn back to work.
I begin to collect all of the tip sheets for books on a thumb drive. The documents will be printed out today.
When I get into the car, and round the corner, it dawns on me that I have no idea where I put the thumb drive with the cover letter to the retailer and tip sheets inside. I say a few words about myself and round the block winding up in my driveway again. As I get out of the car, I put my hand in my pocket and realize the thumb drive’s there. Oh well, there’s a thermos of water I need from the kitchen anyway. I go easy on myself and bring the water back to the car.
At the printers, waiting for the letter and tip sheets to print, I copy the address onto the mailing label with a Sharpie, then, I tape the whole mailer together, all ten books, tip sheets, note cards, and cover letter with a packing list.
Off to the bank, then to the post office to stand in line with my retail box proposal.
Driving home, a driver of the car behind me becomes irritated. I’m probably driving too slowly. He honks, swerves around me. and when he fires by my car, he slows way down. I laugh.
I go easy on myself and on him.
My husband finds me sitting in the parked car in the garage listening to a human interest story.
He taps on the roof of the vehicle, then he flips the lights off and on and closes the garage door.
“I just wanted a minute, please!” I shout.
Fine. Shrugged off, I finish listening to the story then steal another moment to read a Facebook post.
It tells what it means for the shepherd to anoint the head of His sheep with oil.
Apparently, the oil protects the sheep from being tormented by flies that like to lay their eggs in the sheep’s wool around their nose. The hovering flies can cause sheep to panic and run wildly. This sort of activity can ruin their meat and milk and may result in injury or death.
According to the reporter, Nicky Ellis, if the fly is successful, in a few days, larvae will hatch and burrow into the soft flesh of the sheep’s nasal passages. Wounds cause irritation, inflammation, and infection. The pain will cause the sheep to rub its head on the ground, thrash through the underbrush, and bang its head on tree trunks attempting to get rid of the intruders.
In severe cases, a sheep may kill itself trying to get away from the pain. If the sheep manages to survive, the infection caused by the larvae can cause it to go blind.
A good shepherd will mix cooking oil with four parts of each of these essential oils:
- Tea Tree
Astounded, and resonating with the baaing sheep, I collect my thermos, the receipts, my phone, and purse, and go inside. “Sorry, hon.” He shrugs and begins telling me about his hours at work. I listen to his stories half-heartedly, and we give each other a break.
With the story of the anointing of sheep running along in the back of my mind, I tell him that my mom called earlier to ask for a ride to her hairstylist, but that I had my afternoon squashed with this package proposal thingy I had to mail out, so I actually told my mom I couldn’t do it today. She accepted this, and I gave myself a break from the guilt trip.
He smiles and calls me beautiful. He can be very kind.
Since I started the roast at three, it should have been ready by six.
He helps clean off the papers and notepads lying on the table in the way of our plates and water glasses. “You’re a mess,” he says. I smile.
We eat instead in front of the T.V. and watch a recorded show together. This kind of dinner and show event is something I’m unused to doing, but it feels good. We chat about the contents of the mailbox and make plans for next month.
A less-than-average meal, my husband is happy to be fed meat with green chili and hominy. “Did you notice this meat was a teriyaki marinade?” He pops a bite of it covered with green chili into his mouth. “I bought this.”
“Ugh! No, I didn’t notice! No wonder the dish turned out somewhat less than intended.” We gag at each other and laugh.
I go easy on myself.
He gets my inhaler when I start coughing, probably from the strange combination of spices. Recovered, we watch the mystery together enjoying a cheap date.
Like anointing oil pouring over my head, I soak up the good fortune of this man, this husband, my great gift in life.
Then, taking a gander at the published blog post I’d prepped for one of my authors, I realize I hadn’t fully edited it and it is in the public eye! I’ve misrepresented her style and quality of work. Anxiety begins to rise as I immediately begin to doctor and update the blog. There is no taking back what is published, even if it is retracted and edited, and updated. Some people have read the original.
The inner critic cries out my shortcomings, flogs my awful failures. I wonder if our relationship will survive. Then, it occurs to me that giving myself a break simply means that I forgive myself. Hopefully, she will, too.
Forgiving myself is simply agreeing with God.
Forgiving myself is simply agreeing that I mess up pretty regularly, that I don’t have enough time in the day, that my hands are too full of responsibilities, that I don’t care enough for those I should care for. And, yet, He forgave me, puts protective oils on my head, and the sovereign Lord forgives me daily!
“Going easy on myself” means allowing myself to experience that moment-by-moment feeling of not being rushed to fix one thing and then another. After all, I can’t save the world, so my urgent efforts to do so robs me of resting in my own forgiveness.
I’m always struggling to improve myself or improve others. It’s a gift and a curse. Two sides of a coin.
“Going easy on myself” means living slowly and enjoyably in certain forgiveness and grace. I allow myself to agree with God that I’m actually forgiven for all of my failures and shortcomings, and I will rest in a grace I’m giving myself because He’s given it to me already. That’s all.
How about it?
Go easy on yourself.
If you are an author looking for solid ideas to promote your new book, I’m going to make it a little easier on you today, too, by giving you this list of help.
Enjoy a unique day!