Over the past few years the question has been posed to me many times over: “How do you do everything?” I am here to give you the answer, the honest truth…here is the magical secret…I don’t! If you followed me around in my daily life, you would see, there is so much that is on my to-do list that I never get around to completing. And here’s another shocking truth for you: I’m absolutely okay with that!
From the time we were knee high we have been told things like “You can be anything you want to be.” Or “You can do absolutely anything you want!” Somewhere along the way those well-meaning sentiments turned into the unattainable goal of becoming the career woman who excels in everything she does, the best mother in the world who always makes dinner on time, the most beautiful wife who maintains her pre-pregnancy body by running 3 miles every day, the best Christian who volunteers to teach Bible class every quarter, the most hilarious friend who has an impeccable sense of style. While any of these goals is completely doable on its own, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all of them…there isn’t a person on this planet who can! We have become deluded by the lie that becoming this perfect person isn’t just attainable, it is common, and if you can’t do it you have failed in life.
We have begun to define our value based completely upon our accomplishments. Here is the truth though, you have value, not because of all of the amazing things you do, but because you belong to God.
“…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor with the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”
Can you read that without feeling the love God has for His people? This was written specifically for the Israelites, but the sentiment has never gone away. God doesn’t love his people because they have done something to earn it. Just like we love our children, He loves us because we belong to Him. This is something we have been told many times, but somewhere along the way we have lost touch with the reality of it. My accomplishments do not define me, it is God’s love that defines me. The quicker we can truly wrap our brains around that the more peaceful our lives will become.
So how do you choose? How can you possibly decide what to include and what will be left off of that infinite to-do list? Here are a few guidelines that I use to help:
Mental lists don’t count for this one. Actually take time and write down your priorities in order. If you are married, be sure to visit with your husband about what the most important goals are for your family. This is an eye-opening exercise because sometimes the urgent crowds out the important. Are you so focused on looming deadlines that you are completely neglecting one of the things highest on your priority list?
Start Saying No
This one is so very hard, but is completely necessary. Our plate can only hold so much before things start spilling off the sides. Be realistic about your time and don’t feel guilty about things like family time, date nights, and your personal time. Those are all probably a big part of some things close to the top of your priority list.
Take Care of Yourself
This may be the hardest one for me. I have a chronic illness and if I don’t allow myself enough rest I will find myself down for weeks at a time. Sometimes it feels selfish to block out time to take a nap or take the necessary downtime I know I need; however, I have come to realize that it is more selfish to push through and wind up sick because I was too proud to admit my physical needs.
Be 100% There
I don’t just mean your body, I mean your brain. Fully engage in whatever it is that you are doing at the time. Is it time to study your Bible? Then set the timer and fully engage. Is it time to play with your kids? Leave your phone behind and sit and wholeheartedly participate in their world of imagination. Even though we may claim to be multitaskers, our brains are not designed to function that way. You will accomplish much more with your whole attention. My kiddos know that when it’s Mommy’s time to study they need to let me study without interruption, then, when it’s Mommy and the girls time I give them my full, undivided attention. This will allow you to get more done, and actually enjoy your day to day life instead of just surviving it from minute to minute.
Be Forgiving of Yourself
We have a bad habit of comparing ourselves to other people’s highlight reels. We see the pictures people post on Facebook and automatically assume that their whole life follows suit, and then, when we don’t measure up, we beat ourselves up about it. We have to stop playing the comparison game! Paul even talked about embracing our different talents and abilities in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26. Instead of dwelling on everything you didn’t get done and all of your failures here are a few questions to ask yourself: Did I accomplish one good thing today? Did I do my best to live according to God’s will today? Did I show love to someone today? The answers to these are a better litmus test than comparing ourselves to Sally Sue’s Facebook photos.
Try New Things
I know, I know, I just told you to say no, and I do mean that. But, once you find the few things that you are involved in, do them to the best of your ability. Learn new and better ways to accomplish them. Our overwhelming schedules are magnets for stagnancy. By freeing up time, we can focus our time and attention in growth in one particular direction, it’s like pruning your roses so you can have bigger blooms. Growth should always be a priority.
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
When all is said and done, remember, it isn’t about how much you can cram into your day. It isn’t about how many sports teams your children are one. It isn’t about having a nice house, or being thin, or giving your children the coolest toy for Christmas. Life is about one thing: Giving honor to God. In this endeavor we can all be a shining example of success.