When I have too many items on my to-do list and I look around in a daze at the end of the day wondering what in the world I actually accomplished, I know it’s time for something new.
The past few months have been filled with incredibly wonderful opportunities but also challenges. That to-do list continued to grow, my obligations continued to weigh heavier, the deadlines pressed in. I knew I could do it — for a season. But I also knew that trying to live under the weight of so many expectations and pressures would eventually catch up to me. And it did.
I knew exactly when it did when I got mad at my phone.
On my screen popped a little notification. “So-and-so wants you to watch this Periscope!” it said. I got mad, y’all. Talk to my phone, tell it to stop being so bossy, wondering why everyone always needed me for SOMETHING, mad. I could feel the hot tears welling up in my eyes just looking at the screen. I’d been short with my family, closed myself off from friends, and had started to live in this dangerous little bubble called “my head.”
That tiny notification on my phone was the final straw.
I deleted apps off my phone, thinking that running away (my “go to” response when life gets hard) would be the answer. It did add a little peace to my day, but the frustration and emptiness and loneliness were all still there.
I was hustling so hard to accomplish the “to do” list that I’d forgotten to make time in my day to listen for God’s agenda. I was saying “yes” to everything that came my way because I was sad about a lot of the “no’s” I’d been getting, and I wanted to make myself feel important. Accomplished. Worthwhile. Worthy. But none of the items I was adding to my list were bringing me joy — lasting joy — the kind that comes when we settle into that sweet spot of doing the holy work God is calling us to do to make His name important — not our own.
So a few days ago, as April turned into May and brought with it dreary, gray weather that matched my mood, I stopped my hustle long enough to ask God what it was that He wanted me to do.
I felt a nudge to do two things:
1. Invite women to join me in a Bible study.
2. Spend one week recognizing and encouraging women who inspire me.
God knows that when I get overwhelmed I shut myself off from community, and He was asking me create a community that put Him at the focus. So I gathered some women online who love faith and fitness like I do, and we’re reading Katie Orr’s Everyday Faith study together — 15 minutes a day. And instead of feeling frustrated about adding one more item to my to-do list, one more expectation, one more group of people who “need” something from me, this is bringing joy and refreshment to my weary soul. Because that’s what God’s Word does.
And because God also knows I have a tendency to fall into a “what’s in it for me” mindset, asking me to recognize others publicly for how they impact my life has given me another opportunity to stop shining a light on myself and turn the attention to the way God is working through His daughters on social media. I thought for a long time that “words of affirmation” was my primary love language, but I’m learning that I actually really love using words of encouragement and kindness to lift others up (and gifts — especially thoughtful, personal ones, are actually my primary love language).
It’s a new month, a new start, and a new thing.
I’m less focused on my to-do list and more focused on the holy hustle — working hard at the things God is asking me to do, the things that make His name great. And a little less yelling at my phone!
What is God asking you to do today that might not be on your to-do list?