Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Life is Not a Deadline

By nature I’m not a very disciplined person. It’s taken a lot of years for me to get a system in place that works for me. After conversion, my desire for discipline grew, but it’s still something I have to work at. So I create lists. If a task is written down in front of me I will do it. And there is something so satisfying about crossing something off a list. My most recent job was very deadline driven, so I had to learn to operate on a deadline every day when I went into the office. It was good for me and I seemed to thrive in an environment that demanded daily action on my part. In my personal life I create deadlines for myself in order to complete tasks and stay disciplined. All of these efforts are good as general rules for getting things done, but what happens if my list doesn’t get done at the end of the day? Well, let’s just say in my quest to become a disciplined person my self-imposed deadlines can often make me a slave to my own ambitions.

Discipline and executing tasks with excellence are good things. Doing things well brings God glory. Keeping my word honors him. But they aren’t ultimate. In fact, they can be downright sinful if I let them take over my life.

In this particular new season of my life I’ve been given a lot more free time than I’m used to. That kind of freaks out my non-disciplined self. The thought of waking up without a task makes me twitch. I know what I’ve done with free time before and I don’t want to become an unproductive blob. So I make lists and lists and lists. And feel guilty when I don’t complete all of the tasks I’ve given myself for the day. I mean, I used to get so much more done in the office. What’s wrong with me now? I can be a ruthless boss of myself and I was trapped in this vicious mental cycle until Daniel, in his great wisdom, told me something last week that made me stop, “you don’t have to always be productive during the day. Your job is much different now.”

It was a profound moment, a sort of sweet release that living my life as a keeper of my home is not one constant deadline waiting to be met. There must be balance as I strive towards productivity and excellence. Now I firmly believe that being a keeper of my home means doing it with excellence and using the full force of my God-given skill set to make my home a haven for my husband and for ministry. But it’s a different sort of work. It isn’t always a list with countless tasks waiting to be checked off. Sometimes it’s visiting a friend in need or driving around with my husband while he makes cold-calls for his job. Sure it’s cooking, cleaning, managing our calendars, and all sorts of domestic tasks. But it’s also so much more than that. It’s about time and availability, especially taking time to stop and help my husband in whatever way he needs. For us, in this season, it’s the little things like reading and proofing letters to his potential accounts, helping him think through our church plant, and eating lunch with him.

There will come a day where the season isn’t so carefree, and that’s okay. Until then, I want to enjoy these moments and soak them in, knowing that they won't be here forever. But this struggle to find balance will always be about my heart and my constant battle with the to-do list.


Chelsea Bass said...

Yes, I love this! I feel like it's not widely accepted for the "modern woman" to be a homemaker unless she has four kids in tow and is so stressed her hair is falling out. Glad for you (and a little envious) that you have this time!

Also, been thinking of you as I'm reading this book, "Taking Charge of Your Fertility." I've learned SO MUCH. I highly recommend it.

cdt said...

It is so true that it's not widely accepted to be a homemaker. I'm so thankful that I have good friends around me who affirm what I'm doing, but I admit I do struggle when people ask me the question "so what do you do?" Thanks for the affirmation!

I read "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" right before we started trying last year and I really enjoyed it. But I've been thinking recently that I need to read it again because a lot has changed since then. Glad you are enjoying it! I find it very insightful.

Jenny and Steve Douglas said...

Thanks for the great reminder.