I find normal life to be quite difficult sometimes.
Which is weird, because I generally like my life. I enjoy the people in it, and I tend to like what I do each day.
I think the difficulty has to do with the sheer variety of my tasks. I’m not a good multi-tasker, and I’m not very nimble sometimes when it comes to switching back and forth between so many roles. Thus, I often struggle to keep the balance between teaching college kids and my kindergartner, between cleaning the house and playing with my children, between budgeting and grocery shopping, between cooking and laundry, between church responsibilities and school responsibilities. Those are a lot of balls to keep in the air, and I’m not a great juggler. Furthermore, I think that my skill sets are…um…highly specialized. It is infinitely easier (and enjoyable) for me to hold forth my views on epistemology than to make dinner on time…but which one of those do think my family would prefer? Exactly. And when you understand that my skill set does not include anything manual, anything to do with math, or anything that requires extroversion, you can begin to see just how many of my basic tasks require skills that don’t come naturally to me.
Furthermore, when you factor in the really easy tasks that I find to be comically hard, such as parking my beloved
land boat van in between the lines, not losing my cell phone, and moving clothes from the washer to the dryer in a timely fashion…well, you can see how normal life can be a little overwhelming for me at times!
Usually, that’s all okay, though. Usually, that’s just life, and I enjoy stretching myself and doing things that I’m not naturally that good at. What gets me is when two or more of those 87 areas are causing me particular stress. For example, in January, there was a period of time when I was stressed about teaching and stressed about Luke’s educational situation. I felt completely unqualified to be back in the classroom after a six-year absence, and I was also worried that Luke’s school wasn’t meeting his educational needs. Plus, I didn’t know how to fix either situation. Furthermore, on any given day during that period, I was probably also stressed about when I was going to make it to the grocery store, what we were having for dinner, or when I was ever going to get caught up with laundry.
Those are the times when normal life is hard for me.
Nothing catastrophic or horrible had happened; it just suddenly seemed that all of my tasks were too much for me to handle.
In those times, I tend to feel very fragmented, like I am being pulled in lots of different directions at the same time. I feel harried, like I don’t have enough time to catch my breath. And I feel helpless, like my circumstances are controlling me.
Thankfully, I have found a sure-fire way to relieve my stress in those moments. I have found a sentence, a single line, that totally dissipates my feelings of inadequacy. This line makes everything so much better.
Do you want to know what it is?
You have one job to do.
That’s what I tell myself. I say, “Kim, I know that it feels like you are being pulled in 87 different directions right now, and I know it feels like it is all just too hard. But you are forgetting that your job on this earth is not to get groceries on time. Your job is not be an amazing professor, or even to be the parent who always knows what to do for her kids. Your job is to bring glory to God. That’s it. When you get to heaven, God is not going to ask if you kept up with the laundry, or if you were an awesome professor, or even if you made the best educational decision for your child. What will matter then is that, through all those things, your actions brought glory to God. What will matter is that you showed Christ’s love to all those around you. None of the rest of it will matter.”
I can do one job. I find 87 jobs a little difficult, but one I can do.
That single-mindedness helps me. When I feel fragmented, the idea of having one job makes me whole again. When I am harried, having one job gives me peace. And when I feel helpless, having one job empowers me.
I find my one, God-given job to be very unifying in my life–which is how it should be. It reminds me the observation that Paul makes about Christ when writing to the Colossians: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” When Christ comes first in my life, He does, indeed, hold it all together. Similarly, I think of Paul’s statement to the Athenians: “For in him we live and move and have our being.” When I am living for God, I am constantly aware that my whole world, with all of its many tasks, is all part of the bigger picture of my life in Christ. It is all part of one glorious whole.
The funny thing is that after remembering my one job, my life kind of looks the same as it did before. I still try my best at teaching; I still work to ensure that my child gets a good education; I still make it to the grocery store. But I no longer see those things as ends in themselves, nor do I see my success of failure in those areas as indicators of my worth as a person. Instead, I see all those little demands as opportunities to reflect the glory of my Creator and thus, to be a light to the world. And I remember that I glorify God by the way that I do those things, by the love that I show through my efforts, instead of through success or achievement.
When I have that single-mindedness that comes from remembering my one job, I am very blessed. I am blessed with peaceful days, with feelings of purpose and meaning, and with a unity of being that sets my soul at rest.
When I remember my one big job, it makes the 87 little ones so much easier to handle!
When do you have the most trouble remembering your one job?