Last Saturday I had hours of free time to write this blog post. And that was my plan: I was going to write this post, clean my room, read something instructive, and work on an application for a freelance job.
I only did that last thing.
I kept getting distracted by my ample free time and instead spent a couple hours perusing YouTube and Disney+. Before long, my Saturday was over — and my big plans for my to-do list were mostly unrealized.
It’s so easy to put something off until tomorrow. Or next week. Next month. January 1. (Or maybe January 2 — since January 1 is a holiday, you know.)
Speaking of January, how is this year already winding down? I know we probably say this every year, but how crazy is it that we have already finished ten months of 2021? How is 2022 just over eight weeks away?
As Edith Schaeffer wrote, “We foolish mortals sometimes live through years of not realizing how short life is, and that today is our life.” My wanna-do list is long, my focusing ability is apparently small, and today is my life. How am I living it?
What I don’t want to do is knuckle down and push myself to work through a list, as if a self-enforced self-help program will achieve my best life now or some other flimsy promise. But how can I find that balance between pushing myself to work toward goals that matter and enjoying the right-now of where God has me?
Here are a few ideas that might help.
1. Realize there are some things I will never do.
Cue all the FOMO worries here, but it’s true: I will never do everything. I won’t even do everything I want to do. The world is too big and there are too many opportunities for one person to do everything on their list. While this is sobering, it’s also freeing to accept that some things just aren’t for us. Only in heaven will we never miss out.
2. Realize there are some I won’t do in this season.
A friend of mine once told me she needed to spend more time reading. A worthy goal, but at the time this friend had a toddler and a newborn. Some things just aren’t going to be possible in some seasons. Maybe there is something you really want to do, but now just isn’t the right time. That’s OK.
3. Identify what God wants me to focus on right now.
This may sound elusive, but it’s not rocket science. What responsibilities has God given me? What leading do I have? These are the things I need to make time for and work into my life. If I focus on the guidance that I am confident God has given, the rest will be made clear in due time. Sometimes we just need to focus on the next step.
But we don’t have to wait until we think we are called or asked to do something to do it. What do you want to do that you have time for and that doesn’t conflict with your responsibilities? You’ve wanted to learn how to barbecue? Fire up the grill — or a friend’s grill. You think it would be fun to host a Christmas party? Hobby Lobby stores are already stocked with supplies. Again, Edith Schaeffer: “People so often look with longing into a daydream future, while ignoring the importance of the present.”
4. Release the results.
Realize what I can’t do. Realize what I can’t do right now. Focus on what I am called to do. And leave the rest to God. I don’t know what the big story of my life is or what my biggest achievement will be. How will my life be defined when I look back on it? I have no idea. Today may be my life, but in many ways, I’m not writing the story. How freeing it is to realize that all we have to do is follow God’s leading and leave the results up to Him.
It’s so easy to let time slip away from us. But in making the best use of our time we don’t need to swing to the other end of the spectrum and become slaves to our lists or plans. God has given us work to do, but also life to enjoy. It’s all a gift. May we not squander our days, but instead live fully where we are — keeping our eyes open to people around us whom God may be calling us to serve with our time.
“The most precious thing a human being has to give is time,” Edith Schaeffer said. “There is so very little of it, after all, in a life.”
Copyright Lauren Dunn 2021. All Rights Reserved.