Some time ago someone I respect gave me some very good advice. He said he could see I’d been surviving and getting on pretty well, but that now it was time to put down the butter knife and pick up the sword and really start thriving. I have been thinking about this for a long time now, trying to figure out what it really means to me.
I like I good butter knife with a little weight to it. I am familiar with the feel of a butter knife in my hand. A butter knife is just fine for me, and I can get a lot done with one. It’s great for buttering bread, of course, but it can also be used to pry things up, tighten a loose screw, cut through many things, and push food onto your fork.
A sword, on the other hand, is serious business. Swords come in all sorts of sizes and can be purely ornamental, or made for war. Swords are razor sharp and meant to reach forward, cutting through where other tools can not. Although sometimes life feels like a battle, I surely don’t see myself as any kind of swordsman. What if I can’t lift it? How do you hold a sword? Is there a particular way to swing it?
So, I started thinking, what are my butter knives? What are my every day things that I am using to survive, but that may not really give me the life I want? Here are a few of mine:
Routine: knowing the general layout of my day is comforting. It doesn’t have to go exactly as planned, but I don’t just like to drift through my day without some idea of what I am going to do.
Distractions: Netflix, Facebook, etc.
Caffeine: a nifty pick me up especially when accompanied by sugar.
Learning and research: about ANYTHING. Some item I am thinking of buying. The best way to shampoo your dog. Where is Sumatra? I am currently learning Italian with the hopes of traveling to Italy in a few years.
Podcasts: A few of my favorites are: The Widowed Mom, The Minimalists, The Connected Life, and Terrible Thanks for Asking
Busy work: Sorting, cleaning, etc. This really is the shiny penny that gets me most of the time. We have endless adages and stories that have been drilled into us since childhood regarding this: “Redeem the time because the days are evil”, The Ant and the Grasshopper, a mother’s favorite; “if you’re bored I’ll find something for you to do”, and “Don’t just sit there DO something”, to name a few.
So what is my sword? I think my sword is love. That is the one thing that allows me to become better than myself and connect to people and life around me. If I am truly wielding love in any given situation, I am cutting through all the nonsense to see what is best for myself and anyone within sword’s reach. It may very well be that the most loving thing to do would be to clean the kitchen, or may be to sit down and have a cup of coffee. Just because you have a sword doesn’t mean that a grand gesture is always required.
On the other hand picking up the sword can mean doing something that is not my first inclination. Reaching out to a friend or relative after a long day at work when the last thing I want to do is talk to anyone. Turning off Netflix and going for a walk with the dog so I can think about and pray for my family and friends. Letting the dishes stay in the sink and the dust on the coffee table to rest when I really need it. Giving my Christmas bonus to a family in need instead of buying new jeans and a sweater that I really don’t need.
To make this work I need to know what I want my life to look like. What is really important to me? It requires me to stop regularly during my day and choose which way I want to go. Do I want to mindlessly go about using a butter knives and stay in my own little me-world, or do I want to pick up the sword and become a part of a larger life?
When I do stop for a moment of reflection I often visualize myself with a butter knife in hand and having to physically throw it down. This happens so often that I am seeing butter knives piling up at my feet. Who knew that the majority of the battle would be with myself, trying to remember to pick up the right weapon?