I was doing some writing (on the extraordinarily helpful 750 words site) this morning, and ended up writing about what we do and do not HAVE to do in our lives.
Right now, we're getting ready to put our house on the market, with the impending arrival of our third baby in September (or August) -- it seems as though we are all on top of each other in this house.
However, I have learned that a family who lived in the house "way back when" raised 5 girls (!) with, yes, 2 parents, in the very same house where the four of us are currently squished. (And yes, it's just me and my husband who feel squished; the kids could care less.)
So, here are some ramblings on anxiety and what is required...as I looked back over them, I thought perhaps they would be helpful to other people as well...
I'm really trying to remember that everything is fundamentally okay right now. I am healthy, my family is healthy, we have a place to sleep, we have a house which is stable and warm and dry and secure, we have enough resources to get what we need in terms of food and clothing and sustenance. There is anxiety about the house, in terms of selling it, and there is anxiety about moving, and where we would go and how we would afford it if we can sell the house fairly quickly, but those things do not make or break us, and they are not even required. They are optional. We don't HAVE to sell the house. We don't HAVE to accept an offer that someone makes. If we get a super-quick offer, we can always decline it, I guess, and take the house off the market, although we might have some people mad at us.
The only things we HAVE to do are take care of one another and survive each day. We don't HAVE to spend lots of money on things that don't matter. We don't HAVE to have a bigger house -- it might feel cramped where we are at times, but we can make it work. We don't HAVE to have our house in decorator-style fashion, where it looks like a million bucks and is ready to show to people. We can just have it the way we live in it, and we can relax about it. We don't HAVE to paint things and get rid of the mold [yes, we have extraordinarily ucky mold in the basement, blech], but even if we stay, those things will be a good idea (definitely the mold...why didn't we address that like, three years ago?) We don't HAVE to redo the fence but it will look nicer if/when we do. We don't HAVE to mow the lawn, but it's such a clean, fresh feeling when the grass is not insanely long and scraggly. All these things are optional, though, and I need to keep reminding myself of that. Basically, what I am required to do is to care for my children, to try to take care of myself and be healthy, and to be the pastor of this congregation. Even with that, there are only so many things that are actually essential. I need to stay connected with people, and stay in contact with them about how things are going in their lives. I need to touch base with our friends at home to make sure they know they are loved and thought of by the congregation and by me. I need to prepare sermons that help to impart some kind of wisdom, or at least provoke thought. I need to let people know I am thinking of them when I am thinking of them! But there is not all that much that I HAVE to do in my life. So I can calm down with some anxiety about all of the "have-to's" that seem to dominate my thoughts...there is only a very small amount that actually HAS to be done in the great, grand scheme of things. The rest is just extra, and I can relax. Right?