Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Things I don't do.

As strange as it sounds, one of the most difficult challenges in my life right now is managing abundance:

Abundant hand-me-downs, toys, and books

Abundant kids and their abundant needs and wants
Abundant friends, emails, events, and new experiences

Add to this a newsfeed that never ends, a constant stream of laundry, and ministry that is never quite done, and you have a woman on the verge of crazy!

Why it is all things seem to demand equal, immediate attention? And why does my brain seem incapable of handling all of those things equally and immediately?

I am not a computer. I cannot help with homework, make dinner, reply to a facebook message, and listen to a piano song all at the same time.  I cannot care equally about the skinned knee and the threat of ISIS and the funny elephant video and the boys' pet cricket and the lady in the hospital.

I am learning, albeit slowly: I believe there are a thousand ways to do this life well... but "do every single possible thing" is just not a realistic option.

As part of my plan to not lose my mind entirely, I've been reading. And I want to share a gem from a book that stopped me in my tracks.

The book is called Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. She was talking about this struggle, and the list making, and the feeling of never catching up, of always feeling the pressure to do everything better. 

The author shared something she learned from a friend:

"she said it's not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What's hard, she said, is figuring out what you're willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about." (54)

We hear "DO EVERYTHING BETTER" when a friend knits or sings something beautiful and we think we could never do that, but maybe we should.

When the kids get dressed with clothes straight from the dryer, we rebuke ourselves with a silent "DO EVERYTHING BETTER."

When we're socializing, we feel like should be cleaning, and when we're cleaning, we feel like we are neglecting relationships. 

If only we could do it all, better.

DO EVERYTHING BETTER is the song we march to when we forget that we are mere mortals.

DO EVERYTHING BETTER sucks the life from our souls.

DO EVERYTHING BETTER makes us do nothing well, especially not those things we were made to do like love and rest and rejoice, and leaves us crying on the floor in a heap of guilty failure.

It is easy, so this author says, to decide what we want our lives to be about. I agree.  I want my life to be about loving my kids and my husband, being loved by God and sharing His love with others.

But what are we willing to NOT DO so that we can do those things?
Because we are mere mortals, with limits that even caffeine cannot overcome, we must ask this question.

What do you do?

What DON'T you do?

What does it look like for YOU to love serve your family and love your neighbor and feed your spirit? We are not in junior high, friends. We don't have to look like everybody else to be liked. There are a million ways to do this life well. What does YOUR list look like? What can you cut out that may be keeping you from the more important things?

Things I do
Feed my Spirit through the Divine Service and devotions
Cook at home
Make quality time with hubs
Read aloud to the kids
Read quietly for the joy of it
Take tons of pictures
Nap when my body tells me to nap
Fellowship with others around the Bible and other good books
Work hard daily at a job I love 

Things I don't do
Scrapbook (I store memories with words, not photos, and never, ever, with fancy borders or decals. I use scissors for opening cheese.)
Make clothes or sew
Clip coupons, bargain hunt (If only Amazon sold groceries!)
Keep my floors perfectly clean (it's much faster to just wear shoes in the house.)
Attend every sporting event (even if my kids are playing.)
Volunteer for every church and school thing offered
Sell my stuff on ebay
Chores kids should do
Spend time with pets
Interior decorating
Blow-dry my hair except on special occasions
Pay attention to my fingernails
Stay up past ten, except on special occasions
Watch TV (with rare exceptions)

As I added in a part-time job this year, some of my favorite things were squeezed out, like gardening, and daily writing. I am still figuring out what I can rearrange and what needs to be put on the chopping block. The goal, however, is to find a livable balance, not to simply do EVERYTHING better.

Do your soul favor today, and add to the list of things you DON'T do to make more space for things that matter.

What's on your chopping block? What do you love, what do you live for, and what do you NOT do?


  1. I really like this idea of "things I don't do." So many lists get written: to do lists, things I want to do lists, things I'm good at lists...on and on. But to write about what I don't do, to give myself permission to NOT do them and then to be OK with it. That's something new.

  2. You know, I think that it is necessary to change something in the education system, because today for example many students have problems even with writing and they have to use 99 papers for such purposes.


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