Another question from the inbox:
I’m completely overwhelmed with all the things I have to do each week, and I never make it to any of the stuff I want to do. Where do I start?
Girl, I hear you. I have sung this song in my head for 20 years on repeat, and just when I think it might stop, life adds another round of appointments and projects and orthodontist visits and huge mom fails, and it cranks back up again.
Like today, when I thought I was going to get a little break to write this post, and my son texted me in the middle of his first day of high school to tell me that I put him in the wrong history class, and bought him the wrong history textbook, and made him read the wrong summer reading assignment, and write the wrong summer essay.
That’s four wrongs, if you’re keeping score.
Your problem is as frustrating as all heck, and I won’t say that it’s not. Because I would be lying, and good pastor’s wives don’t do that.
But I will tell you something that’s shifted my thinking somewhat over the last few years. I say “somewhat,” because I’m still working hard on it. And it’s this:
Your schedule, as it exists currently, is actually the stuff you want to do.
That’s right. You and I are not filling our days with stuff we have to do and not getting to the stuff we want to do more. Because when it comes down to it, we call it the stuff we have to do because it is the stuff that aligns with our very highest values.
In other words, the have to do stuff is actually the stuff you want to do the most. Everything you choose in your day is selected because it fulfills your greatest desires.
You work instead of play because you desire food and shelter over fun. You take care of an aging parent instead of leave town on vacation because you long to care more than you long to escape. You clean your bathroom rather than nap (most days) because you value a life free of stink and mildew more than a bit of sleep. You cook at home instead of getting easy take out because you value money or health more than time.
Notice that none of the things you chose sounded like more fun than the other choice. And that’s where you and I get all confused.
We think that the fun things must be the things we want more, and so we trick ourselves into believing we’re not living out of what we desire, and therefore we’re missing out.
Earlier today, I really wanted to take a few minutes to rest and write, but my bigger desire was to not ruin my son’s first week of 9th grade and put him behind from the start. So I took the time to solve his problem instead of mine. That choice was what I wanted more.
This thinking makes all the difference in the world. It helps us face our days as they are with positive confidence and clarity. It has the power to turn all our interruptions into intentions.
That job you have to go right now, the homework you have to supervise, those dishes you have to wash, the kid who demands your attention, the husband you stay with even through the lonely times, even that catastrophe you have to respond to that’s taking up all your time — you’re not stuck; you’re powerful. You’re choosing to act in accordance with the kind of person you want to be.
If you’ve weighed all your options, and decided that these imperfect opportunities on your schedule are the things you must do right now at the expense of other choices, embrace them fully and without regret.
If you can’t say no, then own your yes.
You are choosing what matters most to you. And that is enough for now.