With all those things, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Ever been there? The kitchen full of dirty dishes is enough to bring you to tears because you just can’t figure out how to manage one more thing. The deadlines looming over you at work seem unattainable, and there is still dinner and bath time to face once you finish the long day. Life is hard – but being overwhelmed with it can steal your joy. Personally, I am on a mission to keep my joy and avoid that feeling of being overwhelmed.
I have tried to mold my to-do list around a very simple verse: “Let every detail of your lives – words, actions, whatever - be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way” (Colossians 3:17, The Message). For years, when I heard anyone talk about that verse, it was about your attitude. I was reminded to have a good attitude at work, at home, with others, because that glorified God. While I definitely do believe that our attitudes should be Christ-like (or attempt to be, because we are human), I think that it also applies to what we choose to do, or not do.
Last summer, I took on something new, adding to my to-do list: I started graduate school. This decision was one that I prayed over, and was sure was God’s will for me. So of course, I needed a good attitude about it, but I also needed to do it well. Doing something half-way definitely doesn’t bring glory to God, right?
So, I started my summer off from school (I’m an educator, so I technically have summers off), by taking two classes. I soon realized I was going to have to do some juggling – those two classes added about 25-30 hours of work into my schedule each week! I struggled to keep my four year old entertained, my house clean, laundry done, spend time with my husband and get the required work done well. I struggled with not meeting the expectations I had set for myself in all those areas of my life. I knew in August I would also be adding in work-related responsibilities, and I was overwhelmed. I could not do it all, or be it all. Not well, anyway. My joy was gone.
But then I realized something important. I do not have to be it all, or do it all. I need to do what I do for God’s glory and stop trying to be Superwoman. When I spread myself thin, I cannot do anything for God’s glory, and am overstepping the purpose He has for my life. I might even be doing tasks that God meant for someone else so they could fulfill their purpose. I am letting my joy be stolen and stealing opportunities from others. That is not the way I wanted to live any longer.
I decided to be who and what God wants me to be – that is more than enough! I began saying no to extras, let my family help me around the house, and tried to not accept guilt over what I did not do. I struggled with that last part the most – the guilt. It was hard to not meet the expectations of those around me, but not as hard as taking on the expected task when I couldn’t do it well. People do not define my purpose, God does.
I am sure this change in priorities has upset a few people around me. It may have inconvenienced someone who was expecting me to get a job done. But it has provided blessings, too. My husband has helped so much at home, and that has further deepened our relationship and appreciation for one another. My daughter has learned how to do some basic chores, and is learning to find joy in serving others. My load has lightened, and my joy has returned. I know that my life is less busy, but much more full. I am living on purpose, and it has brought joy and contentment. I am accomplishing the things on my list (even those “have to” things that no one likes) well.
We each have a purpose in life, and God-given responsibilities. But often, we take on other tasks beyond that. No one else is willing, we feel guilty saying no, we have always done that too ... but how often do we ask ourselves if by doing it we are bringing God glory? If you are too tired to do a task well, unhappy about it, or doing it out of obligations, it is likely not bringing God glory. This could mean two things. Maybe that task was never God’s purpose for you, and it was really meant for someone else. Let them fulfill their purpose, and focus on yours. Or, if it is what God has for you, something else needs to be let go so you can do it well for God’s glory. Keep your to-do list simple. Focus on what God has purposed for you, and leave the rest alone. Do whatever you do for His glory.
As we all face busy lives, I pray that you will find the courage to evaluate your to-do list, and to focus your energy on only what will glorify God. I pray you will be full of joy and peace knowing you’re right where He wants you, and let that be enough.
Keep living life on purpose,