Moments ago my peace and quiet was interrupted by what sounds like Romeo and Juliet. Loud strong male voices assaulted my serene morning. Now, with three young men in my home, I can be pretty sure that none of them felt the need to pop a little Shakespeare into the dvd player and turn the volume up to a deafening level, but I thought I should check. I needed to check because my inspiration was waufting away like steam rising from a kettle, while my frustration was boiling like the water inside. Had I just paused and thought it through I would have known that on a Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. no teenage boy is awake enough to even turn on the dvd player let alone appreciate the beauty of romantic siliques. When I was assured they were all snug in their beds like giant pigs in a blanket, I made my way to the window and realized that my neighbor was listening to a book on tape—at an ear piercing level. Perhaps they wanted to hear it outside where they were working in the garden—and hear they could; as could I and all of the surrounding houses; inside and out. Now you have to know that what seems like a simple problem with a simple solution isn’t. There is a history here. There have been other confrontations. Let’s just say we have different boundaries than our beloved neighbors. As nice and kind as they may be, (and they are), there has been a history of cars parking across our driveway so we are held captive in our cars or home, children climbing over the fence into our backyard to ask about the wisdom of our removing the dough- boy pool that came with the house, sunrise meetings ( yes I mean at dawn) on their property each week- day morning, attended by 20 or so vocal participants and the many “informational pamphlets” left on our front porch. Conversations about these events have left things a bit strained which was confirmed when we overheard them discussing with their guests one afternoon, our “insane need” to have the ability to back out of our driveway whenever we wanted. So excuse me if I don’t don some courage and run over and ask the neighbor to turn the fatally afflicted love birds down. It is a matter of choosing our battles. I will try to wait it out this time because there may be another issue on the horizon that is more urgent, so is it really necessary to turn this into a hill upon which I will stand and fight.
It’s a life lesson isn’t it? Look at parenting for instance. If we hold up to our children each and every thing that is not to our liking, they will tune us out—maybe permanently. Sometimes we choose our battles, because quietly picking up the 24 dirty cups that appeared on the counter since we did dishes last night is better than complaining about it one more time. Maybe showing a little grace in one area gives us space to be heard when we need to bring up a concern in a more important area. (No you may not drive yourself to Denny’s at 2:00 a.m.,--just as the bars are closing down, to have a late night breakfast with the rest of the basketball team.—And no I’m not driving you either.)
This is true for our other relationships as well, spouse, family friends, and equally important--ourselves. Choose your battles with yourself. You can be room mom, work outside of the home, make gourmet dinners, keep up a vibrant relationship with the Lord, volunteer in your church ministry, eat healthy and workout each day, put together a life changing baby shower for your friend, volunteer to lead VBS, and still have enough energy left to light a spark of romance with your husband, but should you. When you can’t do it all, do you beat yourself up for your shortcomings? Choose your battles. You can be a great mom and serve up a grocery store, rotisserie chicken for dinner. You can take care of your health but maybe delay your entrance in the Boston Marathon for this year. What are the things that aren’t negotiable for you? Where can you choose to give up the battle in order to win the war? Marriage, family, a few moments of quiet with the Lord, these are some of the things I will choose to battle for. Messy kisses and stories at bed time don’t last forever so don’t succumb to the battle of dust bunnies and dirty dishes. Choose what matters most for now. Let’s put our energies toward something of eternal worth: hugs and love, and peace and Jesus not organized cupboards, size 2 jeans, and noisy neighbors. Choose your battles, save your energy and maybe appreciate a little Shakespeare.