Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Learning to put down the to do list
It all started a month ago at book club. We were discussing Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. One of the discussion questions I asked our book club ladies was; "What is your super power or special talent that makes you uniquely you?" Similar to a situation like this in the book, our room full of ladies had a hard time answering this about themselves. A few of us chimed in on gifts/ talents that we saw in others, but as a whole we had a hard time owning the goodness within ourselves. I thought long and hard about myself and the only thing I could come up with was #dinnerdoneby9am. (This is the hash tag I use to capture all of the dinners I am able to have prepared prior to 9 am). But I wasn't satisfied with that answer. I wanted to have an answer that was deeper and more meaningful.
A few days later I explained this scenaraio to Jeremy and asked for his thoughts, knowing he would have better insight than me. He explained to me that #dinnerdoneby9am is not my super power. That it is a product of my super powers. That my super power is who I am and how I was created, and that #dinnerdoneby9am is something I do. I started thinking about how I am a doer and how as a doer I (incorrectly) tend to assign worth and value to myself and others based on what we do. If asked to tell someone about myself or my day I would probably give you a long list of things that I do or did. I place high value on doing.
Fast forward two weeks. Jeremy and I were having a meeting for our ministry. Discussing what we had going on, where God was giving us favor, what doors He was opening up, and where we should invest our efforts currently. In this meeting we decided to cut two major projects that I had been putting a lot of time and energy into. These were big projects. Projects for me to do. Projects I was proud of. Over the course of the meeting we decided to put both of these projects on hold- maybe for now, maybe permanently. We realized that these projects were a result of striving, of us trying to make things happen ourselves rather than following the favor and open doors that God had given us. Everytime that we've tried to make things happen on our own it has always flopped. But when we simply follow the favor that God gives us He has dropped amazing opportunities in our laps. Opportunities that we weren't even aware of. Opportunities that were so much better than the things we had tried to do on our own. So this is how we've agreed to operate. Follow favor. In this meeting, once we decided to put these projects on hold I started sobbing. It was a deep painful sob. I don't think Jeremy or I really understood why I was so upset. In talking and processing it became clear that I was finding my value and worth in what I was doing and that when those things were put on hold I instantly felt inadequate. Not enough. Small. Unimportant. It was clear that I was finding my worth through what I did.
As I didn't fully get the lesson from those two interactions God continued to gently nudge me on this topic of doing. A few days later I sat down to spend some one-on-one time with Him. I started journaling some prayers to Him and found myself apologizing for various things that I hadn't been doing enough of lately. Not praying enough. Not reading my Bible enough. Not doing enough 'spiritual' things. And I realized that this doing mentality was seeping into my relationship with God also. I was like Martha, putting a higher value on all of the things I was doing for Him rather than just freely being with Him.
1 Corinthians 13 gives us a good warning about just how futile doing a bunch of stuff is if we're not doing it out of love. If we're doing stuff to earn or prove our worth then we aren't doing it freely out of love. We are then doing from striving, stress, pressure. If we do stuff to earn our worth we are undermining what Jesus did on the cross. We are inadvertently saying that what Jesus did was not enough. We are trying to work for what we have been freely given.
So in the midst of all these lessons I hear God speaking Psalm 46:10 "...Be still, and know that I am God" over and over again to my heart.
Be still and know. One translation says cease striving. Being still is not something that comes easily for me. My first instinct and reaction is always to do. To take a step. To do the next thing. But I hear God telling me in this season to stop. To wait. To be still. To know. To sit at His feet like Mary.
I thought I had learned this lesson and gotten over this doing mentality eight years ago when I had quit my job in the corporate world managing hundreds of people. I had given up the suits, the business cards and the title. I thought at that point in time I had learned the hard lesson of not identifying myself by what I do. That my value isn't a list of actions or accomplishments. But apparently there was still a remaining layer of this issue to work through lingering from years earlier. I may have no longer been finding my worth in my career, but I found other avenues of things I did and accomplished to find my value in.
In this season of my life, in which I am a stay-at-home mom first and foremost, if I define myself by what I do I will literally feel like a combination of a milk factory cow and a janitor because I nurse my baby, wipe little behinds and clean up messes all day long. I do thousands of seemingly mundane tasks that I have to do all over again the next day. This means that if I don't learn the lesson of finding my identity in Christ rather than in what I do that I will be left feeling extremely underutilized.
I tend to measure my days by the number of items crossed off on my to do list. The problem with that is that the most meaningful moments of each day are not found on to do lists. The meaningful moments are found in relationship and connection. In kissing boo boos, reading books, conversations, hugs, snuggles, in being still and silent enough to hear God speak . This is the good stuff. When I'm caught up in do mode, racing to check off all of my tasks I tend to miss those moments. In do mode I don't notice the sounds of little feet running up and down my halls. The kind words of one brother to another. The "I wuve you momma, you're sweet" whispered to me by a toddler. The look in my husband's eyes when we all snuggle together on the couch at the end of the day. These are the moments that I don't want to miss.
No career, title, relationship, status, possession, accomplishment or accolade is meant to fulfill us or define us. We are not the sum of these things. These things will always leave us unsatisfied; searching, striving, comparing and performing for more.
The truth is that I am not defined by what I do. My value doesn't increase or decrease based on my actions or what I accomplish. My worth has been solidified by Christ's death on the cross. By what He says about me and who He created me to be. That I am created in His image. That I am a child of God. That I am loved. Whole. Chosen. God's special possession. Righteous. Forgiven. A new creation. Fearfully and wonderfully made.
The truth is that I am not the sum of what I do. I am the sum of what He did.
And all of that goes for you as well dear reader.
We are defined by the fact that God loved us so much that He became flesh. Came to earth. Died. Rose and defeated death so that we could be in right standing with Him. Fully restored. This is what He says we are worth. Whether we do another thing for Him or not, this has been decided.
So let's sit back and take a big deep breath together. Let's be still and know. And then once we really know deep in our hearts that we are enough, that we are worthy, that we are valued, loved and cherished just as we are, then we can do from a place of freedom. From a place of confidence in who God created us to be and who we are in Him; now, and eternally.