I remember filling out a job application at JCPennies when I was seventeen. One of the questions on the application said, “Do you prefer to finish one task completely before moving on to the next task?” For some reason that question struck me as odd. I answered no. I was cool to leave one task unfinished and jump to another project, so I thought.
Either that was a blatant lie or something about mommyhood has really shifted me and the once completely spontaneous person I prided myself in being. Because there’s probably nothing that gets under my skin more than unfinished projects. Goals not met. A list unfinished. A half painted room. Cabinets that are complete but still don’t have handles. And even more than that, a completed project that starts to fall into the deficit again. A completely finished bathroom redo that a leak destroys. An organized closet that is back to utter chaos in a few days.
I find these pet peeves of mine ironic since I’m called to parent a tribe of kids with all different needs and spread over a 15 year span. I am called to pour into an awesome body of believers as a pastor’s wife and worship leader. I work from home selling clothes to help support our family on this mission to spend the majority of our time in full-time ministry. Needless to say, my life is a pile of interrupted goals and lists. I am rarely, if ever, able to begin a project and see it through to completion in a normal range of time, no matter how minuscule the task may seem. And even though I know that, for some odd reason I wake up every day believing I will be able to check off all of the things on that list before the sun goes down.
As much as I hate to admit it, I really do measure a lot of my worth by what I am able to accomplish. It gives me such a sense of relief to lay down at night knowing I hit the important tasks. If I’ve had focused prayer and bible time, family time, been able to hit some necessary sales goals, had a successful homeschooling time with camila and even got to exercise?! Phew! #momwins! I lay down feeling like I just slayed a day. But on the other 250 days a year…because I measure myself in this light, I lay down wondering why I couldn’t measure up again. Where did I waste too much time? How can I change myself more to make all the things happen?
Last week Danny and I went out for lunch and I really admitted this struggle to him. I couldn’t stop the tears. “No matter how hard I try, I feel like I never can complete anything that I really, really want to complete. I am trying so hard and failing so hard at the same time.”
Danny has a way of helping me realign. “Calley, but are you at the place of having peace even if you don’t get to finish everything you’d hoped to?” That was hard to answer, because if I feel like it’s my fault that the things aren’t done, well, the answer is usually no. The drill seargant that camps out in my head reminds me of all the ways I messed up, tells me to drop and do twenty push- ups and work harder tomorrow. But if it’s out of my hands, and I get into God’s presence, I can receive the knowledge and peace that every interrupted list and every unfinished task was guided by my Jesus’ hands.
Receiving grace for yourself can be a hard thing. And the real truth, if we are willing to receive it, is that Jesus is with us and fighting in us even when the mess-ups and unfinished important tasks are allll our fault. It’s because we are his children. He is lovingly working in us through each day that never will go the way we’d planned.
Amazingly though, I can clearly see kingdom principles at work here. When we give Jesus the best and first position in our lives, somehow the little bits we work in a million directions add up to big progress.
I can see that after a month and a half of TRYING to work out at least four days a week, I’ve lost a couple of inches. That was not my goal. My goal was to hit every class. My goal was to be way beyond where I am. But I’ve hit the gym two times this week. I have a 5 month old who isn’t sleeping again. Two kids burning up with fever all night and one with a skin infection, and alarms were going off for tornado watches in the middle of the night last night. When one of my sick children stumbled into my room at 4:30AM this morning having thrown up, after being up almost every hour last night, I realized that I was going to miss the gym for the second time this week. Bummer. But even still, all of my trying has equated to inches lost and a tad more definition in the arms I let completely go during the “toilet bowl” we called the summer of 2018. So that’s progress.
When I began October I had full confidence that I would sell so many amazing Lularoe dresses that I would totally pay off therapy bills that are knocking. Last year things were getting knocked out of the park! I was winning a cruise! It felt easy! This year, there are a lot more family needs on my list. This year, I haven’t been able to meet those goals. But I have been able to bless our family enough to meet what was necessary. THAT is a blessing. That’s progress.
This month I had plans of beginning school with Camila at an exact time each morning. She thrives on structure. There have been days where other needs like the crying baby brother and speech therapy out of town crushed that goal. But Camila is reading me simple books on the majority of the week days. She is writing with more confidence and ease. She is correcting incorrect speech on her own and asking soooo many questions because she is suddenly curious about how life works in a million ways. That is progress.
The reality is, a life truly surrendered to Jesus…the kind of life where He sits on the throne and is directing the steps- is always going to be a winning day, winning month and winning year. #momwins all day- every day, even when it’s so far from what we see! It’s true. It’s because I’m a mama on the winning team. #surrender plus #mamatried will always show up as progress. Jesus is causing all things to work for my good and the good of my family. Even when I see all of the things I have failed at as a mom today, he’s seeing all of the things he is going to to use in the lives of my kids and to make me more like Him.
I can trust that every inconvenience is working magnificent things in my life that are just as beautiful as the joy and relief I feel when I really do occasionally slay my list. When I wake up to a clean house or when I wake up to a living room covered in pallets for my sick kids, like today…
It really is ALL working for the good. I am a loved daughter of a mighty King, even if I accomplish everything today or even if (no matter how hard I try and I feel like my wheels are spinning) I accomplish nothing. And if we are willing to receive that, there is great peace and relief there.