The Simply Stewarded Life

Photo courtesy of Aliciakeys.com

I don’t always want to admit it. In fact I like never want to admit it. But…I…am…human. And with my being human comes limits. And with those limits comes the need for good stewardship.

If you’re anything like me and have ever spent any time in a church (not for a wedding or funeral) the concept of stewardship is probably not new and is probably one you usually associate with money. For years I thought that’s all stewardship was- being mindful of how you allocate your money and making sure you allocate some for Jesus. However, I have learned that stewardship is about wisely governing your resources- all of them, not just your money.  In fact, even if all of your savings right now is the equivalent of $15.00 in a jar on top of your fridge, financial stewardship is actually pretty simple. It’s the other areas of life I find we struggle to effectively manage and end up squandering. I hate squandering.

You can imagine how my nose wrinkled, eyebrows raised, forehead creased, and my neck turned when I was asked to ponder “What would happen if all the energy you use to combat the negative you used instead to cultivate something that absolutely  positively feeds your soul?”  I’d also like you to imagine the silence and frantic motion of my mind to create an answer that defended my current energy stewardship. translation, I was looking for a excuse for my poor management of some of my limited resources- time and energy.

Photo courtesy of Steve Meisel for Vogue Italia

No answer ever came. There wasn’t a single justifiable reason for the way I expelled so much time and energy to fight the negativity that wiggled its way into so many aspects of my life. There wasn’t a single valid reason for how hard I worked to stay positive despite the common culture of complaining, apathy, defeatism, whining, helplessness, that I would subject myself too in the name of my profession (let’s face it, no one comes to counseling cause life is awesome) or being a good friend or family member, that was becoming the norm. There wasn’t a single way to ration why I was choosing to engage and fight instead of appropriately disengaging (you can’t just mentally log out of counseling sessions) and then instead engaging in life giving, soul sustaining, goal reaching activities.

I was becoming increasingly tired and curling up on the sofa or in bed, dimming the lights, watching a movie, television, pinning, or magazine reading with a glass of pinot grigio, champagne, or tea felt so much better than dedicating an hour or two toward life goals. I had the weekends for reading about starting service based business, the efficacy of consultation firms and practices, recruiting clients, working on my book, researching grants for girl and women centered work, applying to graduate school for my terminal degree in organizational psychology and leadership, etc. Granted I also had the weekends for sleeping later, doing laundry, catching up with friends, hosting gatherings, playdates with my nephew, church, trips to the park, house cleaning, more movie watching and tv series catching up, cooking, grocery shopping, birthday celebrations etc. You see where I am going with this. The other stuff, the grocery shopping, sleeping, friend catching upping, church going and everything else would constantly have me meeting Monday morning with not a single step towards the life giving, soul sustaining, and goal reaching.

You may read this and say “Ahyana sweetie, it’s your time management.” And sure I could say that too, but well, isn’t time management and energy management all about stewarding limited resources?  Furthermore, I manage my time effectively to get stuff done, just not to be who I desire to be. A simply stewarded life is one that allocates resources- time, relationships, energy, and money to not only doing but also being. Both the doing and the being are necessary to LIVE. Go ahead and nod in agreement.

Photo courtesy of Steve Meisel for Vogue Italia

When I don’t practice good stewardship I practice poor stewardship. I practice emptiness, listlessness, and existence. I squander abundance, richness, fullness, and simplicity. I hate squandering.

After a week of great conversations with three young African American women who have their terminal degrees and are stewarding their lives to be the women they want to be I had to ponder what the heck I was doing and wasn’t doing, who I was being and not being. I had to really let that question, “What would happen if all the energy you use to combat the negative you used instead to cultivate something that absolutely  positively feeds your soul?” sink in. I had to be accountable to myself for my choices to mismanage my resources and how I planned to be a better steward of them in order to live out the dreams I have so they become realities. I am awesome at making it look like I am doing things to be the person who I want to be, but looks can be deceiving.

If you’ve been paying attention to these recent posts you’ve noticed I’ve been leaving you with less and less pretty packaged life lessons I’ve passed the exam for and am leaving you the cheat sheet. You’ll notice they are more and more me in process, learning, reflecting, and treading. I’m okay with that because that’s part of life. Part of life is actually learning the lesson and sharing it as you learn it, not just afterwards. This week is no different.

So I’m working on my stewardship. I think a part of it has been recruiting some folks to hold me accountable. I hope this week you’ll give thought to the type of steward you are over your limited resources, the most limited one really being your life. We don’t live forever. We do however get to figure out how to live well and live in  a way that we can leave something positive behind for the ones who come after us. We do get to figure out how we have more moments that count towards the creation of who we were born to be and not tolerating the person others prefer us to be. We do get to figure out how to be good stewards over our time on this planet and not squander it away. I hate squandering.

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