Blessed are the Single-Minded

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?

It’s this:

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.”

One job.

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?

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11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Greg on March 5, 2012 at 8:24 am

    For the record, you do the 87 little things amazingly well. 🙂

    Reply

  2. Posted by Glenda on March 5, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Amen to Greg’s comment!

    Reply

  3. I really like these two sentences, Kim: “The funny thing is that after remembering my one job, my life kind of looks the same as it did before. … 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.”

    It’s amazing that our life with God looks at times so much like life in general, but to me it seems to have a different flavor to it, or brightness, or something like that. It’s not just an ethereal qulaity, but something real and concrete. Ok, I’m losing myself here in trying to describe it but you did a great job getting the point across.

    Tim

    Reply

    • Tim has a face!:)

      And I think that I get what you are saying about the different flavor and brightness and all. You are right: it’s hard to put into words, but there is a definite difference in living life with God .

      Reply

      • Re my face: I call that picture “Tim in Action” because it was taken when I was teaching a judicial ethics class. This pic actually makes me look somewhat authoritative.

        Reply

  4. Thank you. I needed that today.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Court on March 5, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Exactly. Love.

    Reply

  6. I have the most trouble remembering my one job whenever there is something pressing that needs to get done that I have turned into my one focus. I am a project person rather than a routine person, and I can even function with multiple projects going at the same time (in fact, I get bored if there is only one). But, if I am approaching a deadline and there is still a lot to do on something–basically, when the pressure is on–I hone in on that one thing, and I do a really terrible job of thinking about anything else. Don’t ask me to be nice or sociable; I have to finish my project! What I don’t tend to think about in those times, though, is just what you are saying. The point is not to finish the project at all costs; it is to reflect God to the world in a way that shows His love.

    BTW, yet again, Kim, we are on the same wavelength here. If I can shamelessly plug my own blog (www.tommyandbeckybrown.blogspot.com), I have the rest of my “light” lesson on there now. After having been thinking about all of that for the last few weeks, to me the stuff you are saying now fleshes out more tangibly the point that I was trying to get to. It’s crazy how the Spirit works in those things. 🙂

    Reply

    • Oooooh, Becky, I do that, too. When I was in school, being able to focus deeply on one thing for six hours while the world crumbled around me was actually a strength. Now…now so much:).

      And I was already planning on plugging your blog (along with a few other missionary friends) next Tuesday for my “Top 3 on Tuesday.” So plug away! I plan on heading over there myself soon, but first, I have to go pick up my son from school.

      Reply

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