Friday, January 08, 2010

The Year of Instead

Too complicated!

Too messy!

Too late!

Too difficult!

[I'm] too busy!

And the slumpage begins. (You've read Coop. You must have. Haven't you? Oh, please. Read Coop. Highly recommended.)

Slumpage: shoulders falling, head hanging forward. A physical manifestation of a lack of enthusiasm. A funny word for a sad state of being.

Mama, can I....? and if it isn't on The List or it doesn't fit into the little box of Things To Which I Have Granted Myself Permission To Say Yes, the answer is No.

After days (months? years?) full of No, I am ready to just curl up and give up. I'm about ready for some slumpage of my own. It takes a toll, these two letters.

Really, rather than free me from whatever it is I don't want to do, it just chains me to it, pulls me along with it to the next No.

And I am tired of living that way. But sometimes I'm afraid of Yes, with all its big three-letteredness. When I've tried using it, it comes out all grumpy and humphy, and instead of "slumpage" I just get "concerned head-tilt". (Is she okay? She said Yes, but it sounded a little like a growl. I'm kind of scared to do it now.)

But one morning, He just whispered it to me. And really, He's the one who said it first, long long ago...

Forgiveness, instead of punishment.

Relationship, instead of separation.

Covenant, instead of slavery.

Life, instead of death.

To me, Instead breathes relationship.

I say, Son, instead of dismantling the computer keyboard right now where I'm making dinner, let's talk about what you think you'll find when later we'll do it together.

Daughter, instead of buying room after room of furniture for your birthday dollhouse, let us use your new book and make a bunk bed!

No is M.I.A., and eyes light up, computer keyboards are dissected and explored later, beards drawn onto chins with brown eyeliner, a bunk bed takes form with a Christmas box and Scotch tape, and we share in the glad commotion together.

This is the year of Instead. It rolls off my tongue a little easier every day, and his friend, Yes, has been popping her head in more often, too. The key is to say the word first, quickly, then pause to think about how to make it happen. The children will help you, their hearts pounding a little faster when they realize their request is now a strong possibility.

And I love that.

21 fellow travelers shared:

Kelly Sauer said...

omigoodness - this is going AROUND this year! It is specifically what God has been showing me about my relationship with my daughter, and Ann Voskamp wrote a post over at Holy Experience about this too! Thanks for another reminder and more encouragement to stick with it... I'm with you!

mamakyker said...

Yes, Instead. Who wouldn't rather hear Instead? I love it. Thank you for doing such a good job of putting the thoughts that wander around in my own mind into words.

Deidra said...

I hear you! When my kids were little I heard Chuck Swindoll say we should say "yes" whenever we could. He said that we say "no" way to often when it comes to our kids. But then I'd feel guilty because sometimes the answer just couldn't be "yes" and I started to count the "no" answers and to see them as failure. But sometimes "no" is appropriate. And sometimes it's over the top. "Instead" is full of hope and freedom.

Unknown said...

Oooh I love it!

Carrie said...

Yes, my friend, yes. I love it!

Christine said...

So sweet, this post. You always inspire and meet us where we're at. Love that about you!

And so well written, too!

Linda said...

I think you and Ann have discovered some wonderful wisdom Elise. I am so encouraged as I "read" your lives - young mothers who so passionately seek the Lord's heart. I wish I had been a bit wiser when my children were growing up.
I must tell you that as a grandmother I find it much easier to say "yes" and "instead." Funny how that works.

Andrea said...

dearest Elise--you are such a care-full mother--and I love the thought you've put into "instead". "Instead" actually takes more thought and energy than even just "yes".
Thank you for inspiring us mothers....
just got back from "Isms" where I laughed out loud. Go read your precious children's "isms" when you are tired of the "insteads".
love to you--andrea

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, did I need this...thank you for the redirection. Thank you for giving me something to say when "no" comes so easily. I keep reminding myself that "things won't be this way for long" and I want to enjoy these days with my sweet little ones as much as I can..Blessings, pattie

Anonymous said...

love this!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this thought-provoking post.
When I'm tempted to make a bad choice (usually in eating) I like the word OPTIONS instead - like your LIST has options.
I learned about using the word OPTIONS (which is kind of like a plural INSTEAD) at work. I work in an office where we advise college students. These are young adults just learning how the world works and when they mess up - we give them OPTIONS, instead of telling them what to do or where they went wrong. This way they are still in control.

Stacey said...

This is it for me, friend. Thank you. I linked to this post today. :)

Love to you.

Maridy Carpenter said...

Hello, I can't remember how I found your blog, but I am so glad I did. You are such an inspiration to me. God bless you as you keep up the great blogging.

Tiffany said...

Absolutely lovely. Thank you for sharing this!

Pebblekeeper ~ Angie said...

LOVE this! I'll be chewing on how to incorporate Instead all day. :)

Aimee said...


This was A*W*E*S*O*M*E!!
"Instead" is so intentional and so thoughtful...many times I don't want to say "no" but I am also in a place of not being able to have a ready "yes" (being realistic!).

Instead is perfect!

Anonymous said...

Just travelled over here from a Holy Experience. Love the post but I could listen to your playlist ALL DAY! :)

-South Carolinian

Christy of The Travel Bags said...

Wonderful! Thank you! I've been more conscious of my "no" this year, but sometimes "yes" seems like a commitment I can't keep, and "later" never comes. Instead is wonderful!

Tamara said...

I agree with Anonymous who said "Love the post but I could listen to your playlist ALL DAY!" I came here from Ann's Holy Experience (a blessing) and read this wonderful post...but BEFORE I read it....I was in a deep devastation...the culmination of devastating circumstances bearing down relentlessly and literally no where to turn. I broke down before the children, had taken a nap, made homemade pizza and was feeling somewhat better but answers to questions about God's love still hanging in the air mingling with the smell of melting mozzarella. I had clicked on your site but had to pull the pizza's out of the oven. While I was standing at the counter, from the other room where my laptop was all of a sudden came the sound of Chris Rice in his sun song reminding me that I am loved. Where was that coming from? Every song after that melted my heart. God hears prayer...ME. I sit down to read the INSTEAD and I see. Instead of answers, I get the assurance of love. Wow. Big people need insteads too. Thank you so much for just being there!


Heather said...

I think the playlist that some of the others commented on is actually from Ann's site, no?
On that note, very inspiring post. Thanks.

Heather said...

So sorry, Elise. I couldn't hear any music except from Ann's which was open at the same time. I looked at the top and side for your playlist, but apparently missed the bottom. whoops. back to my unknown corner. :)

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