The things left undone

2 Nov

Ever since finding out I was pregnant back at the beginning of August, I’ve been learning one main lesson: how to find joy when life’s a mess. I had been learning this lesson before then too but there’s nothing like pregnancy exhaustion to take the wind out of your sails and fast (ok, well, maybe new mother exhaustion).

After years of being a morning person, I am back to setting and resetting my alarm clock to the latest possible time I can get up and still make it to work on time. And that’s even after getting 9 hours of sleep.

I feel accomplished on a weeknight if I do anything except walk in the door and plop on the couch. Making dinner, walking the dogs or doing laundry are big wins.

Though I would still describe myself as a person who loves to be active, you’d never guess it by what my weeks look like.

Many of the ambitious goals I set up for myself at the beginning of the year have been left in the wake of another goal’s fulfillment – getting pregnant. That would include working on my nonfiction book. (Another side effect of not being a morning person anymore.)

I don’t like the feeling of being behind. Of having so many things I would like to do but am not doing. Of spending so many days not being productive. God knows that I have used productivity like a safety blanket in the past. A way of reassuring myself that I am valuable, I’m doing something worthwhile, I’m in control.

So I’ve accepted this season as a very practical challenge from God to learn to let things go. (I know this lesson will come in handy when our baby is born as well.) No, I’m not accomplishing everything I’d like to. No, I’d rather not spend an entire weeknight on the couch doing nothing. But when I come home from work and have ZERO energy, or life is keeping me busy with just staying afloat, that’s the reality. And I can still find contentment and joy amid all the things left undone.

I recognize that there is a balance between legitimate rest and laziness, and it’s tough to maintain. Most mornings I reset my alarm out of laziness, and then regret it later. But instead of letting that shortcoming inspire a feeling of failure in me for the whole day or week (like I used to), I pray. I tell God that I didn’t do what I wanted to do and ask for His help to change. I want to get up early to read the Bible and work on my book. I want to exercise after work instead of watching TV. But I also want to give myself grace, like God gives grace. He doesn’t berate me when I fail. He just offers another chance.

I wrote this about a year ago and it is still 100% the reminder I need:

God is more realistic about my abilities than I am. Like QuatroMama writes in this post, I tend to set up my own (perfectionist) standards and then beat myself up when I fall short.

But God is realistic. “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”He doesn’t ask me to be Mega Woman. He understands that I only have so many minutes in a day and if I spend time doing this thing, I don’t have time for that thing. If I’m exhausted and want to veg instead of clean, He doesn’t accuse me of laziness and not being productive, like I do to myself. Unlike me, He is full of grace, understanding, and patience.

This is where the Gospel makes all the difference. The Gospel allows us to admit that we fall short of what we wish we were, but reassures us that we’re loved anyway. And God’s love for us isn’t despite how we’ve disappointed Him, or failed to live up to His standard. Because when He sees us in Christ, He sees perfect beings. We are completely and utterly righteous in His eyes.“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgression from us.”

He doesn’t mutter “I love you” through gritted teeth while trying to not be mad over all the things we’ve done wrong. God’s love abounds for us. He lavishly pours out grace upon grace into our lives with delight.

In the words of John Piper, remind yourself, “I am holy and I am loved.” Even when life is messy.

I may not be accomplishing everything I want to accomplish today, but that’s ok. I truly believe that God would rather I learn to live in the freedom of grace and knowing I’m loved by Him no matter what, than cross things off my to-do list. This world is temporary; only the eternal things truly matter.

How do you find joy amid the things left undone?

3 Responses to “The things left undone”

  1. Lisa November 3, 2012 at 4:45 am #

    Well said; beautiful.

  2. ncarrillo521 November 3, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    What a beautiful post, I love the reminder that God’s grace is always given, so we also must have grace toward ourselves. I am also hard on myself when my to-do list doesn’t get done – and this shouldn’t be the case. But like you said, God doesn’t call us to be Mega-Mpms, even though we feel like that’s our duty.

    Thank you for the encouragement! You’re wonderful, I’m so glad I found your blog!


  1. 6 Months Postpartum | - October 10, 2013

    […] I was able to get all of that done on Monday, but some days, even that doesn’t happen. My post about learning to let things go has been a great reminder to me about trusting God with my to-do list. He’s got it under […]

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