I am in the business of helping people plan for their retirement, so it caught my attention when I saw my friends Sonya and Gary post, “We have decided something big! We have decided to retire.” They are my age. (Which I try to tell myself is really young.) How in the world could they have accumulated enough wealth to be retiring already? I wanted to know their plan, and then start doing it now!
Then I read on. “We are retiring the negativity. We are retiring the despair. We are retiring the hopelessness. We are retiring the doubt that has infested our home. We have a retirement plan in place and can’t wait to begin.” Wow. That may very well be the best retirement plan I’ve heard of yet. It has nothing at all to do with money, but could make you a very “rich” person.
As I laid in bed and replayed all of the negative moments of the last week in my mind, I realized that there were way too many of them. In fact, there were a few nights when I could not sleep because I felt like it was just one of those days when I totally bombed as a parent. As I thought of how my lack of patience and need to control things interfered with how I handled things with my family, I wanted a change. I was thankful that – God willing – a new day was just hours away and I could try again. I decided to make my own ‘retirement’ plan.
In my experience, the best way to get rid of something negative is to replace it with something positive. How could I retire negativity? With kindness. I want to use more kind words, both verbally and written. In the past week, I was quick to point out what my kids did wrong, but didn’t tell them enough what they did right. Think about it for just a moment… it takes the same amount of time to do both. My words can be kind, or they can be negative. How was I going to use them? This week, I’m going strive to be kinder to myself and to others. I’m going to give more compliments and leave more encouraging notes for my loved ones.
How could I retire despair? With joy. Children are the best teachers when it comes to finding joy in the little things. As grown-ups, we don’t do that like we did when we were kids. When was the last time you sang a silly song just for fun? Who cares who is listening? It’s surprising how much joy can be found in taking a child’s hand and actually skipping with them when they ask, without care of who is watching. (Although, I do apologize to those who witnessed that in the school parking lot. It didn’t look pretty, but it was fun.) This week, I am going to strive to step outside of my grown-up mind and look for that child-like joy.
How could I retire hopelessness? With peace. I don’t know about you, but we have a hard time finding many peaceful moments in our day. It took me a while to realize that having “peaceful” moments does not mean the same thing as having “peace.” On a day to day basis, we are dealing with running late, forgotten lunches, bickering, burned dinners, sickness, pain, and sometimes even death. That’s just part of life that has a way of making us feel hopeless. But when we can do those things and still feel calm in our hearts and minds, that is peace. People find peace in a lot of different ways. Some say they find it when they are in a fishing boat or sitting in a deer stand. Some find it through exercise or reading a good book. I find mine when I pray. In prayer, I used to do all of the talking. Over time, I learned that sometimes I need to just shut up and listen. This week, I am going to strive to make more time to just ‘”be” with God and let His peace soak in.
How can I retire doubt? With faithfulness. This one is multi-layered, going back to my need to micromanage and be in control of things in my home, I have a difficult time putting certain jobs in the hands of others. I have doubt that it will get done the right way. I sometimes forget that my kids are not babies anymore, and my husband often has ideas that are way better than mine. I’ve learned that, even though the dishwasher is not stacked the way I would have done it, it’s still stacked, and I didn’t have to do it. I need to be thankful that it has saved me time, and let the little things go.
This week I will strive to put more faith in them, as they deserve. Many of us have situations in our lives that seem impossible and unbearable. This week, I will try to put more faith in God and let His grace in those situations be sufficient. I will not doubt every decision I make, and I won’t lie awake at night beating myself up for mistakes I think I made as a parent. This week, I will strive to have more faith in myself. Among the list of things to add to my ‘”retirement” plan are to exercise more patience, goodness, love, gentleness, and self-control. I realize this won’t happen overnight, and I will still mess up. A lot. But I’m certain it’s the only surefire way to get ‘rich’ quick. Thank you, Sonya and Gary, for the inspiration!