It’s the second full week of January, and I still haven’t started on my New Year’s resolutions. I can’t even bemoan that I’ve already broken my New Year’s resolutions because, as I just said, I haven’t even begun them. Of course, my list is much longer than it should be. I remember giving advice to a friend a few years back that her New Year’s resolution list shouldn’t be so long, that it would be hard to work on so many areas at once. Do I listen to my own advice? No, because how can I narrow it down when all of them are so important? More exercise, more water, fewer sweets, more sleep, more…hmmm…I had so many, I don’t remember them all. I’ll have to go check my list.
Speaking of lists, I’ve got a lengthy to-do one, as most Americans do. On top of the regular cleaning, writing, cooking (ok, Greg does some of this), tidying up after a long Christmas trip, preparing for homeschooling, hanging pictures and putting up decorations in our new house, planning field trips, and doing other miscellaneous work that goes along with life, I recently added another level of teaching to my list–teaching ESL at UT Tyler. It’s definitely not a big job–I’ll only work 3 hours a week to start–but it does entail lesson planning, and it’s a daunting job, as I’ll be teaching college students for the first time in ten years, and the last time I did it (for only a month), I team taught with Greg, the experienced college instructor. Don’t think I’m dreading this job; I’m actually excited to teach ESL again for several reasons, but it does add another layer to my already busy week.
As I lay in bed last night thinking of all I need to do, I started thinking, What could I complete that would make me feel satisfied? What can I finish so I can get rid of the feeling that something is (or many things are) sitting heavily on my shoulders? That’s when I realized that I really wouldn’t be satisfied unless I had my to-do list completely checked off, my email inbox absolutely empty, and my house utterly and spotlessly clutter-free and clean. Oh, and I can’t forget to add a daily quiet time with God, a daily shower, and the whole resolution list, including exercise, etc. I do remember once in my life working on my inbox until it was completely cleared out. That lasted all of fifteen minutes. I might obtain something close to this when I’m retired, if my husband tragically dies before me so that I live alone, and if I have housekeeping help. But really, as a part-time (very small part of the time) working mom of three young homeschooled kids, I don’t stand a chance to get this weight off me by completing all I want to do. I can’t even satisfy myself by staying up late to finish everything because then I feel guilty about not getting enough sleep (one of the resolutions, see?).
So, what do I do?
I think there are three things I need to do.
First, I have no chance of completing all I want to do, but I do have the ability to complete all I need to do. God wouldn’t give me more than I can handle in the amount of time He’s given me. So when I start to stress out about one of my lists or piles or messes, I’ve been asking God for help to complete all I need to complete that day and to give me wisdom to know what that is. I’ve been thinking about Psalm 37:5: “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.” I looked up the word for “will do it” in the Strong’s concordance, and found these synonyms (among many others): to do, accomplish, be at, bear, bring forth, be busy, have the charge of, deal (with), finish, furnish, grant, be industrious, labour, perform, provide, serve, and work. I can’t do it, but if I commit my work to God, if I ask for His help, trusting Him, He will surely do it.
Second, I need to get to work. Sometimes, in my anxiety over all I need to do, I get stress paralyzed (introduced to me by that fantastic movie, Mom’s Night Out). I look at it all and can’t do a thing. Sometimes, I hide from it by doing something I definitely don’t need to be doing, like reading a favorite book during my set-apart time for God. Sometimes I do work that I want to get done instead of what needs to be done because I haven’t committed my plans to God, asking Him what I need to complete. Besides, who wouldn’t rather organize photos on the computer than scrub the grime off the shower floor? However, once I’ve seen what I need to do, I just need to do it, a little at a time.
The last thing I need to do is counter-intuitive to me. The last one is hard for me to do. Next week, I’ll explain the last thing I need to do in order to get this weight of work off my shoulders. I hope you’ll come back and explore it with me.