As the song says, "I'm a product of my raising." As I look forward and try to define who I want to be and what type of home I would like to have, what interests I would like to more intentional about and what gifts I would like to develop, I've some to realize that my tastes and interests may not be as random as some may think.
About a year ago, while digging holes and talking about favorite Lord of the Ring characters, I claimed a kinship with the hobbits. I feel like a defining mark of a hobbit is a love of domestic arts done well....a meal well prepared, a home cozily decorated, a party well enjoyed, a pipe well smoked, a story well told...this is also a theme in my life. Things like these, done well for the sake of them being done well and well enjoyed, give me a deep sense of satisfaction and joy. A word well chosen, a joke well delivered, a garden well appointed and kept, a blanket well knitted, a wine well crafted, a kitchen well cleaned, a cup of coffee well brewed...all of these make me sigh and smile and think of heaven. Knowing this about myself, I've tried to figure out why these seemingly mundane things give me such joy and I think that a lot of it has to do with how I was raised.
Being a good new englander, I have a strong sense of the puritan work ethic. "You don't work, you don't eat." seems drilled into my DNA and owe much of my productivity to a desire to eat deservingly. Now I know that this ethic can be taken way to far and I indeed have taken it to far in my own heart, believing that I must "do something" to earn not only other people's love but God's love as well. By God's grace He is building my ability to rely on grace and rest in Him and accept good gifts without looking for something to do. I am by no means "there yet" but He isn't done with me yet and I am just a clay pot after all. Sometimes the work ethic is useful and enables me to keep my hands from being idle.
I also blame Paul for my love of things done well. Colossians 3:17 was a common reference in my house growing up, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Taking this verse to heart I have often thought, "If you're going to do something in the name of Jesus, it better be done well," and Paul says, "whatever you do." This means cleaning the mold off of my shower tiles and teaching people how to use a fire extinguisher; reading a story to kids in nursery and tending my garden; reading my Bible and encouraging my friends and family...."do it all in the name of Jesus."
That is a lot to live up to, but I think it also has shaped my love for things done well. And my love of things done well has shaped who I am....I have eclectic taste in music because when you love "music well played" genres don't matter as much. I have a long, somewhat random list of favorite books and movies because I love a story well told, almost regardless of subject matter. I love things that are homemade because someone has put the effort into to doing them well, I love organic things because others have taken the extra step to have a garden well-tended. I love to cook and make things from scratch because if I'm gonna do something, I like to do it as well as I can. I love a line of logic well thought out and an argument well crafted...even if I ultimately disagree with it.
I think that this also has shaped my frustrations...I get frustrated when I don't have the tools or time to do something as well as I think that I ought. I also get frustrated by others settling instead of striving, and I get even more frustrated with myself for settling instead of pushing through.
Perhaps I have spent to much time thinking about this but writing it down has helped me process...in black and white I can see logic.