Monday, April 9, 2012

Letting Go of the "To-Do" List

So much about the last two months or so has been about pulling back, looking at priorities, redirecting focus to areas of God's leading, etc..

In short...

It's been about taming the chaos so I can HEAR Him.  I'm seeking Him.  I'm thirsting for Him like I've never known possible.  The results are beginning to be visible and it's tremendous. 

Yet, I have such a long way to go that I am constantly overwhelmed.  My perfectionist tendencies tend to derail me more often than I really want to admit.  I'm working on it.  I really am. 

These past few days have been an extreme physical battle.  I spent all of last week fighting off a mild flare-up and made it until Thursday night when it hit relentlessly.  Finally back up and going today.  Perhaps not feeling completely good yet, but I'm being as active as possible to make my body catch up with my mind!  Or until I crash---which my husband is just waiting to say "I told you so."  Just can't stand being down!  We all know that Moms don't get true sick days and especially a homeschooling mom.  The show must go on! 

Just before I start getting physically drained early in the week, my husband and I were blessed to have had some REALLY deep discussions.  Those kinds that you wish you could have recorded because they were so amazing, so deep reaching, and just what we needed.   Some of those topics allowed me to let go of so much garbage and broke down so many walls.  God was definitely in the midst of us!  However, you can't have those type of discussions without hitting some rough waters.  Those waters that reveal things you don't like about yourself, areas you need to change (grow, let-go, turn over, etc...). 

One such topic was expectations.  Not the ones that we place on others.  The ones that we carry on our own shoulders.

I so often think I've failed.  I know I'm not alone in this feeling because of conversations I've had with so many recently. 

I set out with a "list".  At the end of the day, I fail to see what I accomplished.  I just see what is left to do.  Fail.

I want to exhibit a specific quality or work on a certain character issue.  I fail to see where I made better choices 8 times that day.  All I see is those 2 times I didn't. (It could even be 99 successes and 1 fail!) Fail.

On that particular day that we talked about this issue, I had accomplished an incredible amount of things at home that day.  Looking back now, I laugh.  I had ended up so mad at myself because I crashed at the end of the day and was just LAZY.  I decided to not cook dinner.  I started beating myself up mentally and TOTALLY erased in my brain all the things I DID do.  All I could focus on was the one thing I thought I'd done wrong.  I didn't measure up to the Proverbs 31 women in my own head.  Ridiculous!  It's laughable now, but at the moment it wasn't. 

I think many of us struggle with this.  We fail to see the progress we are making.  We fail to see the MANY things we do right.  We fail to see the value of the little things we do. 

God doesn't want us to be living like that.  He offers grace for a reason.  We can sometimes easily offer it to others, but fail to accept it for ourselves.  Besides that, whose "list" are we living by? I don't believe God is sitting there with a checklist to see how many things we got done.  He is looking at our hearts and our motives. 

My forced downtime this week really brought this issue back to light.  Our conversation started it, but being forced to think about it while I wasn't able to attack a list the last several days was very revealing. 

I learned something very powerful during this time as well. 

The reason I *try* to do so much is because I want to calm the chaos.  If my house is clean, I can think.  If I can think, I can relax.  If I can relax, I can focus more intently during my one-on-one time with God.  If my one-on-one time is focused, I can hear His voice in my heart.  It's uncluttered and I can hear.  The chaos is calmed.

That is what the last several months have been about.

Zooming through *my list* so I can calm the chaos. 

This week taught me something.  Chaos is here.  Chaos isn't EVER going to be tamed.  I can definitely do things to HELP.  I can absolutely give myself the best chances by keeping priorities in focus, I can consistently surround myself with people that are uplifting, I can continue to make choices to avoid things that fill my head with garbage, etc...  However, I can not give myself the perfect world!  Reality is just that.  Kids get sick.  I get sick.  Schedules fall apart.  The house will not always be 100% clean when someone knocks on the door.  There will be days I have to drop everything to help someone out of bind.  It's reality. 

What I have to do is learn to STILL focus on Christ even when life is a whirlwind around!!!  I absolutely need to do everything I can to give myself that BEST chance of being connected with Him, but I also have to accept that some days I have to SEARCH him out!  I have to train myself to find Him in the MIDDLE of the chaos.  Not just in the silence.

It wasn't very long after Kev and I talked about these things (letting go of my *lists*, paying too much attention to my failures and not enough credit for progress) that I read something very powerful.

I know this post is already long, but I want to share in the entirety what I read.  It spoke word for word to my heart what our conversations had been about.  God reached my heart with this even in the chaos.  Though these last few days of being physically drained, in pain, and dealing with some very unpleasant symptoms has been hard----it has been such a time of reflection.  For that I'm thankful. 

Taken from Sarah Young's devotional book "Jesus Calling".

"I am calling you to a life of constant communion with Me. Basic training includes learning to live above your circumstances, even while interacting on that cluttered plane of life.  You yearn for a simplified lifestyle, so that your communication with Me can be uninterrupted.  But I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world.  Accept each day just as it comes, and find Me in the midst of it all. 

Talk with Me about every aspect of your day, including your feelings.  Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me.  A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end of the day.  Do not let your to-do list (written or mental) become an idol directing your life.  Instead, ask My Spirit to guide you moment by moment.  He will keep you close to Me."

OUCH---those words touched me, convicted me, moved me, and are continuously teaching me. 

Learning to walk in a new direction.  Learning what a truly successful day looks like.  Seeing things that I have to change.  Even in the middle of the chaos!

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