On Fridays I write with these beautiful ladies at Five Minute Friday: no editing, no over-thinking, no major corrections, just writing because writing gives us life.
Just here. With the yeasty dough smell wafting under the pantry door to my irritated nostrils as I boil water for my second cup of tea. Here with cool spring air seeping through these drafty windows, beckoning my boys to stand at the door and plead to run free. Here with an up-much-too-early toddler whose tired red eyes awaken compassion in me as his whiny tantrums make me want to run and hide. Here is where my life is formed, my soul is changed. Here is where I take shape.
John Ortberg writes in Leadership Journal what he hates about spiritual formation:
I hate how spiritual formation gets positioned as an optional pursuit for a small special interest group within the church. People think of it as an esoteric activity reserved for introverted Thomas-Merton-reading contemplatives. I hate that. Spiritual formation is for everyone. Just as there is an “outer you” that is being formed and shaped all the time, like it or not, by accident or on purpose, so there is an “inner you.” You have a spirit. And it’s constantly being shaped and tugged at: by what you hear and watch and say and read and think and experience. Everyone is being spiritually formed all the time. Whether they want to or not. Whether they’re Christian or not. The question isn’t if someone will sign up for spiritual formation; it’s just who and what our spirits will be formed by.
I hate that too, Mr. Ortberg.
Because here is the most forming moment I’ve ever faced. Not there and not then. I spent days in silence at a monastery before I was married. Maybe I needed it then. But in eight minutes with my children, bending low to look in needy eyes, holding tight to wriggling bodies, feeding open mouths: in these minutes I am more formed than days at a monastery, alone.
With one minute and twenty seconds left to write, a small hand grasps my arm and tells me that his little brother’s hand is stuck. I want to write but I choose to pause my timer, only to find a tiny arm lodged in the shape sorter, attempting to wiggle free but only worsening his bondage. So I don’t write as much as I want or as long as I want or as free as I want but I take new shape, shape that God is surely molding.
My husband tells me I write about being a mother too much. I am slightly offended; he softens the comment by explaining that he likes my thoughts on so many topics and couldn’t I share about other things, too? But it is here, in this motherhood monastery, the rhythm of life shared with littles, the finding of self while losing, here I take shape slowly. I still lock the door and hide in the bathroom. I settle them with Baby Einstein so I can write my five minutes. I wait at the screen door in running shoes like an anxious dog, blowing past my husband before he can say hello as I ache for the freedom of wide open spaces ahead of me and no small pitter-patter behind me. But here is a good place to be formed. Right here.