The planner with all the meetings, appointments, work hours, to- do lists, and an insane amount of sticky notes to plug any holes left in the day.
People, what are we doing?
Why are we doing all of this? Are we okay?!
We’ve got all manner of supermom and superdad things to do that MUST be done in order for us to feel that our day has been fruitful. At least this is what we are learning from our society.
As a budding missionary who needs a part-time job to help sustain my family, I have recently stepped back and taken a good look at what an average day looks like for me. What I see is an impending train wreck if I don’t learn the difference between productivity and busyness. You see, work is honorable and fulfilling, but toil is absolute drudgery, and that is how life feels when it is too cluttered and overwhelming.
So, what to do? Cry, complain, embrace the mania, or just lie down in defeat? I’d rather not (although there have been tears…lots of tears).
I am, however, a huge fan of dealing with problems rather than hiding from them. Full disclosure: I have been known to run at break-neck speed only to find myself right back where I started just to end up doing what I should have done in the first place which was to deal with it so it wouldn’t be a thorn in my side anymore.
5 Steps Through a Cluttered Life
Accept that You cannot do Everything Yourself.
Life has enough problems on its own without our behaving as though we have control over every aspect of life. We simply don’t. We only have control over our decisions, and the rest is a marble run. The question I am learning to ask is this: Why would I rob God of His willingness to do my heavy lifting if I just trust and obey Him? Just who do I think I am here? The verse doesn’t simply say that I can do all things. It says the I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phillipians 4:13). Running on my own strength and counting on my own intelligence is a master plan for the loss of my own mind. And like I said, I’d rather not, thank you.
Is it Really a Priority?
Not everything is an emergency. If we look at the people around us who seem to have it all together at all times, it can be very easy for us to feel the apprehension that comes with the feeling of not measuring up. So, we try to be super heroes in ways that are not fitting to our lifestyles. This needs to stop. Your life is your life, and the things that are important to others don’t have to be important to you. We all have needs, but why are we trying to satisfy them all at once like life is some kind of get ‘er done Olympics? As a wise woman once pointed out to me, it is highly probable that the Proverbs 31 woman hardly did ALL of those things at once. She prioritized!
Are you asking yourself what’s important to you? What comes first, the job or the family? Do you need to focus on your spiritual health or your physical health? Only you can answer those questions for the life God has given you. Whatever the answer, you can trust God to fulfill His promises no matter how difficult the journey.
What Steps are Taken from One Thing to the Next?
Everything is a process. Even something as simple as making our morning brew requires a process: add water, add grounds (or pod), grab mug and fixins (if you like), wait, pour, sip! That’s an entire process. Imagine what would be in your mug without the water or the mug itself. No? Yeah, I don’t want to imagine it either. Coffee is fantastic and the process of it becoming my go-juice is almost as good as the drink itself.
That’s why it is so important to pay attention to the details of making something happen. The only thing ever created out of nothing was the Heavens and the Earth, and even they came with a plan and happened in a particular order (Genesis 1-2). So, whatever items remain on your to-do list, be sure to ask yourself what it will take to actually do them.
Check Your Baggage
Oh, the baggage of life! And it’s not even ordinary baggage when we are overwhelmed. Somewhere in the forest of lists is that all-important list of things we wanted to do, started, but never finished. When we look at them from an organizing perspective, do we even need to do these things if it has been 5 years since we started…and stopped? Even if we still what to do it, if we know we cannot right now, why aren’t we tucking it away for such a time as we are able or until God provides? On the journey of our lives, unnecessary baggage causes much stumbling and falling. Let it go…for now or all together.
If it is yours to have or do, God is better than free 2-day shipping. It will be exactly what you need and exactly when you need it.
How, you ask?
Answer: I have no idea!
I do know this: not all things require the same motivations. Sometimes we can be emotionally motivated, and at other times, we can be motivated by different things like money, survival, passions, or any other reason we might have for making our decisions. The key is in your knowing why you want or need to do anything on a daily basis. Disclaimer: if you don’t know why you are doing something, it might need to be re-evaluated as to whether or not it even belongs in your brain. When you know why you are doing something and that reason really matters to you, you have the perfect recipe for motivation.
If you need to address your physical health, why is it important to do it right now? Do you just not want to die, or do you just want to look better in those jeans?
If you want to go for that promotion, why do you want it? Do you simply want to make more money? Are you chasing a title, or are you answering a calling?
If your bed needs to be made, why do you bother making it (yes, even the little things have reasons)? Are you OCD, or is this just what you’ve always done? Is it as simple as you just want a tidy home?
Whatever you need or want to do, let your reasons be honorable ones that edify you, edify others, and edify God.
Being overwhelmed is a big part of the grey space we can so easily find ourselves in. Having so many things undone or waiting to be done can fill us with the kind of anxiety that takes our attention away from God and makes us start trying to tackle our mountains on our own – with no power, no guidance, and no protection. Is that really how we want to live?
My dears, not every priority is yours. Not everything that is yours is a priority. Look closely and decide what has to happen right now and what really can wait until tomorrow. As my kids seem to think, just because it’s on your plate, it doesn’t mean you have to eat it.