Let’s get real.
So last week I posted about being overwhelmed, right? But then at the end I was all like, “But You got this, God, so it’s all good.” And I genuinely meant that as I wrote it.
Here’s the ironic thing, though.
When I published that post, I was so. Stressed. Out. Over silly stuff. I had previously written and saved the post, but decided to publish it that day because it had been a week since my last post. And I’m trying this new thing where I get stuff done. Publishing a post wasn’t originally on my to-do list, but I already had written it–I just needed to publish it. Just a couple of clicks of a button, right? Simple. No time. On to the next thing to cross off the list. Another pat on the back for being productive.
I also decided that because I’m trying to learn more about being a successful blogger, and one of the tips I’ve heard along the way is to always put pictures in your posts (because no pictures=boring, and no one will read your posts), to find out about putting a picture in my post. But I also know that it’s not as simple as just finding a picture from Google, slapping it in your post, and calling it good. So I googled how to use pictures in blog posts. I found a blog post, of all things, that tells you how to find free images and use them. Sweet. “I’ll just find a picture of a girl looking stressed out and call it good,” I thought.
My computer is SO SLOW, people. I’ve had it looked at three or four times, and still. S-L-O-W. (Computer people, help??) Not to mention that I have horrible wifi connection in my room. I tried bringing my laptop down to the kitchen where I usually get a stronger connection, to no avail. So, I finally settled for sitting at the top of the stairs outside of the bathroom, because I know the bathroom to be the best spot in the building for wifi connection (you all know you take your phone into the bathroom with you, too). Boom. Full wifi connection. Smooth sailing from here on out.
It took FOREVER for my computer to load anything. Because apparently wifi wasn’t the problem. My computer’s just–yep–slow. Sigh. At this point, 1:00 was approaching. I was supposed to have already run and showered by then, and I had a webinar on confidence to attend, because, productivity and personal development and all that fun stuff. And I didn’t want to be doing anything else during that time, like running and showering, because I didn’t want to be distracted. “Great. Guess that’s not happening now.” I could feel my blood pressure rising. I wanted to fume on facebook about how frustrating it was that my computer was not cooperating! But complaining’s not the Christian thing to do, and it doesn’t make you look good. So I just did it in my head instead of facebook. So much better, right?
It wasn’t supposed to take this long. I wasn’t even supposed to be doing this, because it wasn’t on my to-do list. And other things were, that this now was interfering with. But I was already this far in, and why couldn’t the pictures just LOAD so I could publish the dang post?
By 1:13, the post is finally published. I get on facebook to share it on my personal page from my blog page, which of course also takes forever. But then my laptop dies. It’s now 1:16. Mind you, I have to be at work at 2:00. I am SO frustrated at this point because it wasn’t supposed to take this long! And now I don’t really have time for a run and a shower, which I’m even more frustrated about because not only are they on my to-do list, but I am finding myself craving the opportunity to run out this frustration. So what do I do? I I throw a tantrum. It’s embarrassing, but it’s true. I jumped up and down stomping my feet, yelling under my breath about how it wasn’t supposed to take this long and I could have/should have been doing other things and I don’t even have time to run! (Please tell me I’m not the only one who loses their cool and acts like a child every once in a good while.) I was trying so hard to be productive, and I was annoyed that I allowed myself to be sucked into this task for so long when I knew it was cutting into the time I had allotted for other things, particularly running.
I decided to run anyway. I quickly changed my clothes. I laced up my running shoes. I took to the track right outside my building. I pounded out 2.4 miles while listening to the confidence webinar I didn’t want to listen to while running. And I thought. I thought about how I’m doing all this stuff lately to be a better person (what does that even mean? Better at what? Life? How? By being nicer? Making more money? Being more disciplined? Eating better? All the things?), but if I’m not careful, I can miss out on who I’m truly meant to be in the process.
You see, here’s the thing. On my own, I am a lazy human being. I sleep in. I like junk food, and facebook, and TV. Too much. My natural inclination is to float through life, doing the things I enjoy, hoping that somehow my aspirations will come to fruition. I know intellectually that it takes action to make things happen, but I guess I didn’t really want things to happen badly enough. And I finally came to a point where I realized that wasn’t where I wanted to stay. I’m a couple of months out of an unhealthy relationship and subsequent bout of depression. And after coming to terms with the fact that life wasn’t turning out the way that I had thought it would, I realized I should probably do something about that. That I could do something about it. And I feel ready to.
I’ve always wanted to make something of writing. I just never really had the confidence that I could, and always came back to, “Writing won’t pay the bills.” So I set it aside as something to do when I felt like it, not something to invest my time, energy, and money into. But since I’ve been on this “Stop being lazy and make something of yourself” kick, I’ve tried to invest a little more time and energy (no money at this point-I’m not there yet) into writing, and improving as a writer/blogger. I’ve been writing more consistently, and committed to posting more frequently. I’ve been listening to webinars, reading blog posts, and joining facebook challenge groups. I’ve been going through Chalene Johnson’s 30-Day Push to help me identify my priorities, set my goals, and break them down into doable tasks in order to reach those goals. It’s been helpful. I’ve been more organized, productive, and mindful of how I use my time. I feel like I’m making measurable progress toward my goals. And it feels good.
Except for when I can’t get everything done in a day. Or don’t manage my time well, despite good intentions. And then I get flustered because I feel like I’m some machine who must, must, must. Must run. Must clean. Must look up money-saving tips. Must write. And then when I don’t do all the musts, I feel like I’ve malfunctioned–even if I’ve still spent my time doing worthy things, or if the reasons I couldn’t accomplish everything on my to-do list were outside of my control. And I don’t make a pretty sound when I’m malfunctioning, like faulty brakes that screech. I vent to my Heavenly Father about how it’s not fair, and I’m trying, and I don’t feel like I have enough to show for it. Wah, wah, wah.
And then He reminds me. He reminds me why I’m doing it all. That it’s not a bad thing to be more productive, to set goals and to go for them. It’s not bad to make a to-do list and feel a sense of accomplishment when you can cross things off of it. What is bad is being married to that to-do list. Making it an idol. Getting so caught up in “personal development” that you forget that at the center of your personhood is your spiritual life, and you focus so much on developing other areas that your spirit starts to starve. Because inevitably, Bible reading makes its way to the bottom of the list. It doesn’t feel as tangible an accomplishment as paying a bill, or publishing a post. And that’s just it. It’s not an accomplishment. It’s not a task to be crossed off a list. It’s an investment in a relationship, one that is living and breathing and eternal, with a God who is living, and breathing, and eternal, and holy—and thus worthy of my reverence and affection. That’s not something that gets checked off a list. That’s something that transcends the list, that should be the very essence of my being–and at the center of everything I do on that list.
He reminds me who I am, and who I’m meant to be. I’m His, and I’m meant to shine His light. That’s what it’s all about. Not a certain number of followers, or an amount in a bank account. Not a certain number on a scale, or titles attached to my name. At the end of my life, I don’t want to be remembered for having made so much money, or having so many followers on my blog, or being out of debt, or disciplined, or any of those things just for those things’ sake. At the end of the day, amidst competing desires that do want it to be all about me, I want to honor my God. I want to live for His kingdom. If I’ve gotten out of debt, let it be so that I can give more to furthering His kingdom. If I’ve reached a certain number of followers, let each one of them be pointed to Him. If I’ve attained a certain level of discipline, let it be so that I’m a wise steward of the resources God’s entrusted to me, to use and take care of for His kingdom’s sake. It’s not about me being “better,” because I must decrease, and He must increase. It’s about becoming more like Him. And Jesus got stuff done, but He didn’t bow to a to-do list. He was a Man of purpose, but He welcomed interruptions.
I’m learning. I’m not always getting everything done on my to-do list. Sometimes because I’m too tired. Sometimes because unexpected things come up. But I’m okay when I don’t. I’m learning to roll with the punches, and operate on God’s timetable, not my own. He doesn’t love me any less when I don’t put a line through all the tasks for today, because life is not about lists. It’s about living.
So I guess I’m back at the same place. I’ve come to the conclusion, once again, that I am accepted and loved apart from my ability to do All the Things. And that my aim is to honor my God–not to complete as much as I can in any given day. And in the event that I get caught up in thinking my worth is wrapped up in how much I can cross off a list, I am still loved and accepted–and gently reminded, by the One who loves and accepts me, of what I’m really supposed to be living for–Him.