Spiritual Growth

When You Are Drowning in Your Own To-Do List

This week!  Holy guacamole.  I mean seriously.  I’m in over my head and that’s not my usual status quo.  I have spent at least twenty years of my life purposely studying time management and organization, simplifying, slowing and all other sorts of good healthy life habits.  Because of this, I lead an intentionally full life, but don’t usually FEEL overwhelmed.  God created me to be capable of juggling many balls – it’s just how I’m wired.  That being said, we all have limits.  Can I get an amen?

I usually have a rhythm of out-of-town work throughout the month.  I go to LA the last Monday in a month and the first Thursday of the following month.  Thanks to February being such a neat, tidy, short little month, those two days fall in the same week – two trips to LA from my home (at 3hrs a pop) in the same week.  But, no, wait, it gets better.  The additional quarterly meeting for one of those jobs is on Tuesday!  Enter a sleep-over on Monday to stay for the work day Tuesday, arrive back home for a day on Wednesday and go back into the fray on Thursday.  Here’s where the “holy guacamole” kicks in – with chips.  Ay caramba!

Did I mention we are going on a retreat this weekend, so we’ll be gone for two days before I leave for this yo-yo week to LA?  Just the task of finding a hotel (which turned into a daring decision to take the leap and try an Air B&B) took me hours online as I combed the internet looking for good prices and decent places to stay.  (You know, the places that aren’t across from road construction and a liquor store in the neighborhood with chain link fences?  As a single woman traveling alone, I’m sort-of picky about not being mugged when I’m on a work trip).

All that to say, my head felt like a carnival ride as I prepare to pack for retreat, work, more work, boys’ needs while we are gone, getting the dog cared for, groceries, laundry, you name it … Can you say spin cycle?   Even more importantly: can you relate?  I mean, I’m not unique.  I do work part-time in another city.  I home educate.  I write.  I minister.  I am a wife, a friend, a mommy.  Sometimes I have as many hats as Bartholomew Cubbins in the Dr. Seuss story.  The numerous hats don’t bother me because of how I’ve learned to wear them.  I’ve acquired the art of stacking – of deciding what matters most – of pausing for that deep breath to remember how small I really, truly am.  My little life isn’t the crux of anything, and there is plenty given to me in order to do whatever I am called to do.  Thank you, God. 

There’s freedom in being appropriately small.

At other times (like this uber-nutty week) I feel like I decided to stand under an avalanche and shout loudly … down it all comes, and quickly.  I’m knee deep in snow and can’t find my way out of my own self-created mound of overwhelm.  That’s the truth.  At times like this, some people, feeling helpful, or perhaps a little superior, say things like, “You’re so busy!”  Ah, yep.  Shovel?  Anyone?

As I said in the beginning, I’m not “so busy” most days.  What I am is intentionally full.  I take a Sabbath Day most weeks.  I work hard to enter His rest and to work from a place of rest.  Then there are weeks like this upcoming crazyfest.  How on earth did this traffic jam of events come upon me so suddenly?  The convergence of obligations and the preparation for each one took me by surprise and honestly I felt swamped.

Last night, as I crawled through the tasks at hand, I was clearing out my email inbox (a new habit I have to keep it at zero daily by taking 10 min a day to purge and re-file emails into usable files) … anyway, I found this email from a bajillion months ago.  It had a simple quote from C.S. Lewis:

It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.

All this day I had purposely refused to get anxious over the massive length of my current to-do list. I’ve pushed out the urge to get resentful or irritated when people wanted to chat and I needed to get a job done. I reminded myself that interruptions are divine appointments.  God redeems the time because this life is His – He bought me with a price.  My time is not my own.  I stopped during two such “interruptions” and said in my heart, to Jesus, “I’m trusting you to give me time to do what I need to.  I’m giving my time to this person right now.”  I felt His “yes.”  He did the same … for the woman on the road.  A dear friend of his was dying and Jesus pauses to see who touched Him in a crowd.  He should be running!  Jesus is never noted to have run in his ministry years.  Not once.  He didn’t even scurry or speed walk.  Purposely walking from place to place, He pauses.  He stopped for the interruption because she mattered and what was important to her was felt by Him.  I want to be like Jesus in this.  Never so far into my agenda that I can’t stop for others when they want my time.  I want to remember that God holds it all and He holds me.

As a blessing tonight, He brought the comforting quote.  It was a quick look in a mirror.  How am I carrying the load as compared to how I used to, Lord?  As I glanced, He showed me that I bore this load in a way that I wouldn’t have known how in years past.

It’s NOT the load that breaks us.  It’s the way we carry it.

Spiritual ergonomics.

God isn’t blessing my great skills.  It’s not that I’m innately great at carrying loads without unloading on everyone around me. Definitely not that.

He has done good work in my life and heart to make me just a little more like Him. He continues to teach me the great truth of two invitations:  Come to me … all who are weary and heavy laden .. and I will give you rest for your souls.  The other is that I might take His yoke – share my burdens with Him.  Every burden shared is broken in half immediately.  Share it with Him and we no longer feel the weight at all.  

How about your load?  Is it weighing you down?  Bring it to Jesus.  He’s standing with open invitation.  He’ll trade you the heavy yoke for an easy one and the feeling of being crushed for that of deep rest.

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