Not My Business



“Mommy, that not you business.”

I think this was the most important thing anyone has ever said to me. It was said to me by a child who could not yet use the potty on her own. It was said to me from a five-point harness I had to buckle, because her tiny thumbs didn’t work well.

“Mommy, that not you business.”

At that time, I was worried about the state of someone else’s heart. I was worried about the ways I was being perceived. I was worried about everything except for me and what I was feeling and thinking and choosing. I was worried about everything, except the thing that was actually my business.

Now this tiny prophet is just a little bit bigger. She comes home every once in a while with reports she didn’t get her work done.  When I ask her why, she shrugs. “I didn’t want to. I was bored with it. Everyone else at the table was doing something I did want to do.”

Sometimes I send her downstairs to finish getting ready for school. But instead of finding her shoes and brushing her teeth and hair (“Teeth, hair, shoes! Teeth, hair, shoes!” I yell from upstairs), she finds the feather the vacuum picked up and checks to see if the dog needs water. She admires the sunrise and turns off the lights that were left on. It isn’t that these behaviors are bad, it’s just that they’re not one of her three jobs in the morning. (Teeth, hair, shoes.)

I knelt before her this morning, looked her in the face and told her as much. “You aren’t doing anything wrong; it’s just that you’re not doing what I asked you to do.” Pretty immediately the Holy Spirit raised her eyebrows at me. My daughter isn’t the only one in this house who is not doing anything wrong per se, but isn’t always paying attention to the things she’s being asked to pay attention to.

I have a lot going on. A lot. I write on the internet and there are approximately 70 billion words every day other people are spitting out at me if we include Twitter updates and Facebook rants. I go to seminary where every single other person seems to also be in an intense period of re-working their whole understanding of who God is and how best to honor him … her … God. Then there’s just the general academic angst. Have you studied? I haven’t yet! I heard this was on the test last year. What did you get on that last paper? There’s just a lot going on.

This of course does not take into account any of the fights people can get into over motherhood, or the way I obsessively follow a friend from my old college dorm on Facebook just to roll my eyes, but also be secretly jealous of all the adorable mom things she does for her kids.

Okay. So. Maybe that one is a little bad.

But y’all. It’s a problem. I went to go see the dean of students at the end of the semester to line up a spiritual director to untie some of these seminary knots. After listening to me rant for three minutes, she gave me the name of a woman who “takes no prisoners.” She let me know I was making some very good points, and then suggested I be “maybe less of a lint roller” in a kind and generous way only someone who’s an expert in pastoral care could pull off.

Even if I was making good points. Even if I was telling the truth. Maybe some of what I was getting all worked up about simply wasn’t my business. Maybe I could make like Elsa for just a second and Let it go.

I need not beat myself up over this tendency I have so clearly passed on to my daughter. I wasn’t doing anything bad, but I also wasn’t doing anything good either. I mean, I hope there’s something better to say at my funeral than: She was really amazing at keeping track of all of the things on Twitter.

Maybe I need to attend to the things God is calling me to.

Maybe the rest is–ahem–not my business.

Abby Norman
Abby Norman lives, and loves in the city of Atlanta. She lives with her two hilarious children and a husband that doubles as her biggest fan. When not mothering, teaching, parenting or “wifeing”, she blogs at Abby loves to make up words and is excited by the idea that Miriam Webster says you can verb things.
Abby Norman

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  1. Mark Allman says:

    I think that is an awesome thought “maybe less of a lint roller”. Maybe sometimes we need to be more of a Teflon pan? I think it is great people are passionate about things but I think you have to be careful what you are passionate about and does the passion one has make a positive impact?

  2. Amy Chumbley says:

    I can’t tell you how many times over the years God has used my children to teach me! I need to learn the same lesson, “It’s not that you’re doing anything wrong, you just aren’t doing what I asked you.” Thanks for sharing Abby!

  3. Saskia Wishart says:

    Ah this hit home. I laughed out loud when you mentioned the eye-roll/secretly-jealous of her facebook friend. I find when there are so many really important things to be paying attention to, I can quickly lose track of what is actually important for me and what isn’t. My boyfriend is constantly rolling his eyes at how I watch American news and get all worked up because, what some random newly viral person did in America, has absolutely no bearing on our day-to-day, and reading all the things only stops me from doing my school work 😉

  4. Love this. And oh boy – that could be my epigraph too…

  5. I love this! One of my classroom mantras, when I taught second grade, was MYOB!! The kids knew it wasn’t rude, but if I said it, they needed to stop and recalibrate. Such an important life lesson…. I needed that link to the Holy Spirit, who often rolls her eyes at my meddling. 😉

  6. Oh, geez I can relate to this so well. I think we all need a lesson in this from time to time!

  7. Joy Howard says:

    Abby, I am pretty sure this was written for me. Thank you. There is so much that makes my heart break right now, but I too have been reminded lately that I have been given specific work to do. And that work is how I need to spent my time. I need to mind my own business and do my work. Do the work.

    • Abby Norman says:

      It is a hard time for sure. I care about all the things. I do, but I can’t attend to all the things, just my things.

  8. Walking away with a well-spoken warning against being a “lint roller,” and the words of Micah the prophet running through my head (kinda like “teeth, hair, shoes!): do justly, love mercy, walk humbly.

    My job description is not nearly as complicated as I like to think it is.
    Blessings to you in your seminary journey!

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