“So how was your day?” my husband asks. Our eleven-month-old is sleeping at last and, in the quiet, we unfold our day over the dinner table filled with plates of roasted potatoes and rice.
Well let me tell you, I think to myself, recalling the serpentine to-do list that’s been strangling me all day. I sigh suggestively, settle into my mask of martyrdom, and recite each flurried step of my day. My multitudinous accomplishments, as follows: tackling the small city of dishes that sprang up over the weekend, scrubbing the floor (because, “scrubbing” sounds more Cinderella-like than “wiping”), loading the washing machine with a baby strapped to my body, running (literally) to the bank, waiting on hold with the airline for an hour and a half (emphasis on the time) to confirm details about an upcoming trip. The list goes on.
When I finish my performance (curtain closed), my husband kindly suggests that I rest this evening. But I bat away his compassionate commonsense. There’s still so much left to do. The truth is there’s always so much to do. At the end of each day I have a bad habit of listing all the tasks I have completed. Not to say that listing all my completed tasks is bad. The bad part, however, is that the list becomes my litmus test for self-worth. The more work I complete, the more valuable I am. In the courtroom of my mind, I (as defendant) offer my litany of all the reasons I’ve earned an evening of rest after a day of hard work. But most often, I (as judge) condemn myself for not having done enough.
There are always errands I didn’t get to. Always people I forgot to text. Always new needs jutting up like weeds. Constantly. Continually.
My to-do list will never end. Ever. But recently, God’s been showing me a liberating truth. He’s been showing me that my work is not only not enough most days. It’s never enough — and it’s never going to be.
No matter how many tasks I accomplish during the day, I will never be able to earn God’s kindness, God’s invitation to enjoy His presence while simply sitting on the couch with a cup of chamomile tea. No matter the many hours I volunteer or the many meals I make for hurting church members. No matter the many words of encouragement I give or the many dollars I donate — it will never be enough.
In offering His body on the cross and rising to breathe again, Christ already accomplished all there is to make us enough in God’s eyes and to enjoy His presence. In one act of cosmic sacrifice, Christ completed the ultimate to-do list for all time. And, if I believe in Him, there are no good deeds or completed chores I can do to make myself more desirable to Him or more worthy of His rest. Any Christ-less, goody-two-shoe attempts to make myself acceptable are garbage. Clothed in the sufficiency of Christ, I am already enough before God.
At the root of my anxiety to configure my worth at the end of each day is a hunger for acceptance. Underneath my litanies of completed tasks is a quaking desire to be loved. Rather than berate myself for all the things left undone at the end of the day, I can remind myself that, in Christ, I am infinitely loved — loved beyond my wildest fantasies or deepest desires. And in that love. . .I can rest.
That’s not to say that doing good things isn’t essential to a Christ-centered life. Again and again in Scripture, believers are called to action, to offering our time and energy for others, especially the weak, the losers, and those unlikely. The abundance of God’s love should overflow into a continual outpouring of love to our children, spouses, grandmothers, neighbors, and, yes, even and especially the woman behind the cardboard sign at the freeway exit. Even loading the dishwasher and preparing a spaghetti dinner are acts of obedience to Him.
That’s the key. Obedience. So much of what I expect from myself is not what God expects from me. So much of what I labor over are achievements to prop up my own facade of self-worth, rather than make much of the God whose breath and blood give me the grace to do anything at all.
Many of the tasks He might call me to are things that don’t fit on a to-do list. They appear unexpectedly in the day, are quickly forgotten and largely unnoticed. Snuffling into my son’s neck as he giggles joyously mediates the love of God. My son may never remember this laughter and I certainly won’t win a “Funniest Mama” award, but it is a small act of obedience. And this small act is a sign of the true labor of a Christ-follower.
My prayer is to live so in tune with the Spirit that I move in step with Him, the tasks He is calling me to. He knows the hours I have. He knows the energy I have. He knows I am most definitely not Superwoman (though I too often try to be).
But He is Superman. And that is enough.Leave a Comment