Tis the season for it. The good stuff. The good will towards all, and the cookies. The parties, the presents, and the cookies. The worship and reflection. And the cookies. So much goodness and happiness and calories squeezed into such a short amount of time. For me this translates into eight separate to do lists bouncing simultaneously around in my brain. Like a ping pong machine. Seriously. Don’t be surprised if you find me wandering aimlessly in the aisles of Walmart in my bathrobe with a glazed look in my eyes. Fa la la la la la la la la. I can tend to get paralyzed by my “to do” lists up in my head sometimes. It’s all swirling around in there, like a tornado. I get sucked into the vortex, and all I want to do is (figuratively and literally) rock back and forth in the fetal position for a minute or two.
There is what I refer to as my A list...standard every day protocol. Laundry, bathing, reading Disney Princess story books with Madeline, etcetera, etcetera. But what really debilitates me is my B list. That is the list that I never get around to. That's the "if I get done with my A list" list. It's also the important list. It's the people I need to be praying for. It's losing the rest of this baby weight. Raising daughters who know and love and follow God. Reaching out into my neighborhood. Getting ahead financially. Being available for friends who need an encouraging word or someone to cry with. Keeping my house presentable for company. Most of all, I get overwhelmed with the holy life. Am I living a life worthy of the Name to which I am called? Seriously? Is there anything remarkably Jesus-ish about me?
Will I ever.
So usually what happens is this. I throw in the towel. I eat half a dozen donuts, swipe the credit card, watch the Kardashians instead of sweet prayer time with Jesus, and I leave my girls in their pajamas all day. I pull my car into the garage and don’t take the time to say hello to the several neighbors that are raking their leaves or putting up Christmas lights. I see friends and church or at the store and have casual conversations with them, our mouths saying one thing, but our hearts and eyes speaking a language of disappointment, longing, and failure. The heaviness of the failure literally makes my shoulders sag . I feel like I’ve disappointed myself, my family, my friends, and most of all, my God. And I know that being overwhelmed and feeling like a failure is self-inflicted. I know, I so deeply know, that God did not design life to be like this.
One of my favorite movies from the nineties is What About Bob? It’s a comedy about a doctor-patient relationship that goes awry. In this film, Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) aides Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) in overcoming his phobias with “baby steps.” These steps involved taking small measures towards a greater goal. For whatever reason, it makes me think of cooked spinach. Yes, I am strange. Anyways, back to the spinach. I don’t like the way it tastes, but I know it’s good for me. So sometimes I want to just eat it in one bite so it’s over with. But then it slides down my throat and my gag reflexes kick in and it’s not a really pretty situation. For me or anyone sitting within three feet of me. However, if I were to take small bites, and chew on them for a while, it would be a little more manageable. And then it would be gone. Baby steps.
Oswald Chambers has been quoted as saying, “Trust God and do the next thing.” The next thing. A bite of spinach. Baby steps. For me, the next thing would be what is set before me at any given moment. It would be the tree for the forest. What if, instead of allowing my guilt to weigh me down for not praying for my children enough, I stopped for a few moments and lifted them up to Jesus? What if I chose a banana over a donut? If I chose to take five minutes to call a friend that I hadn’t connected with a while? What, just what if, I decided to park my car in the driveway and run over with my girls and say a quick hello to a neighbor? And the mother of what if’s…what if I trusted GOD while I did all this?
I know that being debilitated by my goals is not how God has called me to live. I’m learning that the process of becoming holy as He is holy is a moment by moment process. It is choosing Him over the Kardashians. It is choosing to roll over to my husband and ask him to pray over our family instead of both falling asleep the second our heads hit the pillows. It is deciding to do the next thing. And all of those next things will dramatically shift the direction of my life, of my character, and of my holiness. Just like shifting the tracks of a railroad. They will point me along the path of righteousness, baby step by baby step.