My older brother survived our childhood, barely, as life with three contentious sisters played out like a scene from Hunger Games most days.
The Czarnecki homestead saw its share of verbal smackdowns and indignant scheming for sure-
My brother, perhaps the most ornery of all.
And I adore him all the more for it…in adulthood, anyway.
Years of shenanigans the four of us siblings gifted our parents.
One such infraction found my brother “accidentally” blowing up a toilet at our high school resulting in weeks of expulsion.
Not so much then.
As I currently experience what it is to raise multiple teenagers, I offer condolences to my parents about two decades too late.
Mom, Dad- We were idiots.
I made up my mind long ago that I would not base my worth as a person nor a parent on these four beautiful lunatics I am raising.
I will admit, however, it is difficult not to intertwine their misbehaved moments with my bruised ego as a parent.
Because being a grown up is a lot of deciding what you’re gonna care about.
In her book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamont tells of a concept she learned from a friend early in her writing career,
“Every single one of us at birth is given an emotional acre all our own. There’s a fence around your acre, though, with a gate, and if people keep coming onto your land and sliming it or trying to get you to do what they think is right, you get to ask them to leave. And they have to go, because this is your acre.”
How true and hopeful to know that yes, we all have this emotional acre within us to cultivate according to our deepest convictions.
In this acre we get to decide what we are going to care about.
This matters greatly because what we care about inhabits a large part of our emotional acre;
And largely informs how we manage all the rest of it.
It determines our pursuits, our motives and responses, and how we nourish our emotional inner space.
Sometimes I forget that I have a choice in this.
We all know what it feels like to carry an emotional load that’s just too much.
When we make a decision about what we are going to care about, by default we are also choosing what we will NOT care about.
Just as important.
Cause when we make these decisions, there will always be thoughts, emotions and influences that we will have to escort out of the gate because they no longer serve us in a nourishing way.
Lately, I find myself asking what I’m going to care about.
The most recent political buzz, what folks are up to on Instagram, the dimples in my thighs, or how my 14 year old just back talked me…again, or the crabgrass growing in my backyard, or the rapidly declining honey bee population?
I mean, there’s a lot there to cram into my one emotional acre;
And I bet you have a lot vying to occupy your one acre of real estate too.
So I’ve made some decisions that I will continue to fine-tune as life offers new things to care about daily.
Being clear regarding what I will and won’t care about allows me the mental and emotional capacity to focus on the things and people that matter most.
And I wonder, what fills the space in your acre these days?
What do you need to care about a little more (or perhaps a little less) in this season of life?
Thinking about those years ago with my brother, when the crap literally hit the fan at Madison Comprehensive High school-
I pray the toilet bowl moments of life will reveal a well tended emotional acre within me.
Because I decided to care about the right things along the way.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. -Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)