Maintenance

Maintaining.  We all do it.  The need to keep things at the same level.  Often, that level isn’t realistic, but we push to maintain.  Whether is be a new exercise routine, an eating plan, staying up on the mountain of laundry, keeping our lists going at work, quickly emailing/texting or facebooking a friend to maintain the relationship.  We are encouraged to maintain.

This maintenance is required in the midst of a culture that also pushes GOALS, RISING TO THE TOP, MAKING YOUR WAY UP THE LADDER….pushing, going, attaining, and mastering.

I spent a lot of time organizing and purging our kitchen and art cabinet over the summer.  And as lovely as those shelves looked, as easy as it was to find things, all it took was one afternoon of dropping the ball and an avalanche began.  Because while reaching goals and getting fresh starts is crucial, maintenance is just as important.

We are called to something bigger than blindly maintaining, though.  Sometimes it can be maintaining some semblance of sanity over the holiday vacation when commitments, rich foods, children out of school and changing routines abound.  But then, what happens when it’s over??  Usually, the typical crash and burn.  Tracey wrote so eloquently and honestly about this very problem today on her blog.

When we are so worried about just maintaining our level of performance, our successes, our relationships, our lifestyle, then we often are blinded to the changing scenery around us.  And this surrounding context is often the determining factor of whether or not our maintenance will be successful.

A week into teaching again, I am struck with this same concept.  We are told we must maintain high standards for the students.  To help them MAINTAIN what they’ve already learned.  To maintain our gradebooks, anecdotal notes, jam-packed schedules.  And yet, where does this get us?  Sometimes we end up stressing so much over keeping things where they’re at, that we forget to adapt to what is truly happening around us.

What fuels this need to maintain?  More often than not, fear.  Our fears of what will happen if we FAIL to maintain, not realizing that imminent doom is on its way anyhow.  Sometimes in our desire to maintain, we don’t realize that we’re heading straight toward a cliff if we don’t look up, readjust the route and adapt.

I had the gift of attending, and sharing a blessing at, the wedding of two of our former summer staffers this weekend.  I loved the moments ahead of the service.  Sitting in a quaint, redwood chapel at Mt. Hermon.

Watching the light stream in from the stained glass windows, seeing the candles flicker at the ends of the pews.  Trying to breathe, not get nervous about speaking publicly and remember the gift and joy of being present at such a special moment in time.  As the service started, though, I couldn’t help but be enveloped and changed by the moment that was unfolding around me.  Daren & Lisa wrote their own vows and it would have been impossible for anyone to maintain focus on themselves, their own fears and worries, when listening to the earnest commitment they were making towards one another.

It is my guess that these moments of peace, calm, silence, reflection are necessary for pulling ourselves out of blind maintenance.  Stopping long enough to see the cliff that’s looming in front of us.  Being surrounded by others who are authentically pledging to honesty, community, commitment and staying true in the midst of change, fear and life.  Knowing that maintenance, while important, can not be our end goal.  God calls us to something much bigger, often much scarier than blindly maintaining our known realities.  {remind me of this when I’m just trying to MAINTAIN my sanity and classroom management each Thursday and Friday!}.

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