“Behind” and “Supposed To”

I’m behind right now.

I’m behind on blogging (obviously).

I’m behind on cleaning.

I’m behind on our family’s yearly scrapbook.

I’m behind on my reading, Bible and otherwise.

I’m behind on laundry.

I’m behind.

Also, things aren’t going like they’re supposed to.

For example, this morning at 2:00 am, I was supposed to be sleeping.  Instead, I was holding Anna’s hair back while she puked.

Same story at 2:55, 3:45, 4:30, and 6:00.

At 1o:00 am, I was supposed to be hosting a tea party for Anna’s little preschool classmates to celebrate the end of school.  Luke was supposed to be at school for his last full day.  Greg was supposed to be at work.

Instead, the kids and I were in our pajamas, since Luke swore up and down that he felt sick, as well.  They were making who-knows-what out of spare pieces of felt, velcro fasteners, and tape.  Greg was running out to get popsicles before heading to work after letting me sleep a little bit.  I was trying to wake up by drinking coffee and reading last week’s Entertainment Weekly.  After I finished the movie reviews (and decided that I do, actually, want to see Battleship), I stared at the grungy craft-pocalypse landscape of my living room and reflected that I was “supposed to” be surrounded by little girls in princess dresses eating petit fours right now.

And then I paused…and I thought about those two concepts:  “behind” and “supposed to.”

I considered the areas, listed above, where I felt “behind.”  And then I considered where I wasn’t behind:  I wasn’t behind on loving my kids; I wasn’t behind on snuggles; I wasn’t behind on end-of-school year involvement or trips to the pool; I wasn’t behind on dates with my husband or time with our parents; I wasn’t behind on participation in my church; I wasn’t behind on my friendships.

Maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t actually behind on anything.

And as far as “supposed to,” who said that today I was supposed to have a tea party?  Or that Anna wasn’t supposed to get sick?  Where was that written?  Who said that today was supposed to unfold any differently than it actually did?  What does “supposed to” even mean in this context?  I don’t know about you, but the events of my life generally don’t ask me beforehand if they are “supposed to” happen.  Reality doesn’t seem to care what it is “supposed to” look like.

Maybe, just maybe, my day was supposed to look just like this.

Now, there are definitely times when I am legitimately behind on important commitments that I’ve made, and in those times, I am “supposed to” fulfill my responsibilities, be they to the church, the state, my family, my friends, etc.  But I’m beginning to think that there are just as many times when “behind” and “supposed to” have no actual bearing on reality and that they merely represent these imaginary, parallel universes that I’ve created.  And the problem with these parallel universes is that they distract me from the perfectly legitimate reality that surrounds me.  They make my reality seem “less than,” and my efforts like failures.  They rob me of the peace and contentment that comes with accepting the life that God gives me, moment by moment.

I might come back and elaborate on these points later, because they are very intriguing to me, but right now, in Luke’s mind, I am “supposed to” be playing with Legos.  I think I will oblige…after I swing by the fridge and grab one of those petit fours that I just remembered I had!

Do you ever feel controlled by “behind” and “supposed to”?

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by bekster081305 on May 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    I totally relate to this. In order to remain sane and actually get anything done, we have to create goals and expectations for ourselves, but, you’re right, who says things have to go the way we think they should? Over the last weeks/months, I have had LOTS of practice in being flexible and have had much opportunity to redefine what “supposed to” means. However, I still feel guilt over being “behind” on things. I feel like I’m in sort of a tricky position because I’m not always sure who exactly I’m “supposed to” please. I mean, obviously, we’re “supposed to” please God rather than man, but many times pleasing God includes pleasing certain people. If I get “behind” on something, other people may or may not care depending on what it is. As far as our days going differently than how we want or expect, though, I definitely believe that God makes things happen the way they are “supposed to” happen.

    I hope Anna (and Luke) feel(s) better.

    Reply

  2. i have to remind myself when “i” feel like i am “behind” or “supposed to”, that all i’m supposed to do is what God has planned for me that day. and that’s all. so i’m really not behind most of the time, i’m just self-absorbed.

    and, OH, i want to see battleship, too!!! everyone else thinks i’m crazy. maybe i should fly to nashville. 🙂

    Reply

  3. Posted by Phillip on May 24, 2012 at 8:11 am

    I sometimes think days like you describe are enforced Sabbaths. A time to simply stop and realize the world keeps going even if I “get behind” or don’t accomplish all I thought I was “supposed to” do.

    Reply

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