I’ve been thinking how everything is a process. A journey. Life and its lessons are typically marathons not sprints, slow cooker meals not fast food.
But one thing I have learned is that the next step is always simple even if it sometimes feels like you are going backward.
The previous night I had said to my husband, “I’m so behind. I should have started this six years ago.” He replied, “You’ll get there.” The next morning, I was reading a book and came across this featured quote:
“And a step backward, after making a wrong turn, is a step in the right direction.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut
God is always looking for ways to remind me that I’m on the right path, that I am exactly where I need to be even when I start comparing myself to others. And to quote Teddy Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
The Best Laid Plans
The previous day had not gone according to plan, and already feeling six years behind, I became frustrated at the loss of a productive day. I let some situations get the better of me and I immediately fell back into bad patterns and behaviors of blame, criticism, and feeling overwhelmed.
I felt the now uncomfortable anxiety rising as I watched myself peeling the skin off my thumb. The bandage on my thumb the next morning is the reminder that I’ve got some growing to do.
Sometimes We Cost Ourselves Peace
It’s easy to be non-stressed and pleasant when there’s nothing to stress about! Anyone can do that. It’s how you handle conflict, obstacles, and the mistakes of others that cost you time and energy, that show your maturity and character.
So, that day felt like a Fail and I was irritated because it was someone else’s mess that cost me my time. But – it was me that cost me my peace.
Ah…still so much room for growth. Just when you think you’ve arrived you realize you’re not even close to arriving.
Today I need to be intentional. Not just about my To Do list which is always ambitious, but about relying on Jesus to handle transitions and setbacks. I do not know what a day may hold…my To Do list is a feeble attempt at control. Just jotting some things on paper (even if it is a pretty notebook and made with colored pens) does not control the universe.
The weather, accidents, the errors and actions of others, can all take a black marker and scribble across today’s list without even being aware of the anxiety they’ve caused me.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
Heavy thud of realization here…
My list is tentative. Tentative the way life is…it’s an illusion…it’s only within my control to a degree.
It makes me feel safe. I’ve got a plan. I’m intentional. I know where I am going.
To Do lists are as difficult to grasp and hold onto as the wind is. One minute you’re on #9: canning your precious tomatoes – and then you look out the window to see black skies and tree limbs flying by, and your focus, your #9 on today’s list, is quickly replaced by “Get the dogs and hide in the bathroom.”
That morning I certainly wouldn’t have replaced #9 with “get the dogs and hide in the bathroom”, but life did it for me.
The Things That Matter
What matters more? That we can plan, stay organized, work efficiently, and make goals, or that we can adjust when life rips up our list or makes smudges over our goals?
Can we adjust with gratitude and with joy? That’s the test of spiritual maturity – and I confess I am still growing.
Erin Loechner says in Chasing Slow:
“…in crossword puzzles and in life, use pencil. Things will need to be erased.”
So, get your pencil sharpener and eraser handy because you are living Life, not a To Do list!
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city and spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
Sometimes fun things can come out of derailed plans. I finished canning all the tomatoes and they are forever known as “Tornado Tomatoes.”
Chasing Slow is worth a read – especially if you are looking for the courage to step back and slide away from an anxiety and stress-filled life.
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