(or "The Story of the Work That Didn't Get Done Because of the Work That Was More Important")
Like the even-tempered, mild creature that I am, I began to stress out.
“I put [Extraordinarily Important Job] on this list because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it tomorrow, and because I have to get [Vastly Crucial Job] done on Friday. I’m going to have to cut out [World-Changing Task] and get it done next week…”
And so I went on, the tension coiling my shoulders and burning my chest—until I realized just how ridiculous I was being.
I had just had a lovely morning with the ladies at my church, discussing the things of God and all the ways in which the Gospel should change our daily focus, and free us from worries over lesser things. (That message wasn’t familiar at all, was it?) I had just spent nearly an extra hour afterward, chatting with a friend of mine whose writing is as much an integral part of her identity as it is a part of mine. I just blessed new parents with a meal, and had the privilege of holding a precious newborn in my arms. I just spent uninterrupted time in the car with my mother—a rare occurrence these days.
Was I truly whining because I didn’t get done everything I wanted to do today? Because my agenda got interrupted? Because it wasn’t the good that I expected?
So I laughed. I laughed at the patent absurdity of the human mind that clutches so strongly to the expected good of crossing completed jobs off the list that it misses the better good of being Christ-like encouragement to others.
I’m not saying that priorities should be thrown out the window. The Lord well knows that I will have to strap a jetpack on my back to finish this week’s tasks, all because of today’s adventures. There are times when I’ve had to say “no” to one opportunity in order to say “yes” to a different opportunity that I must rank higher. Certainly, flexibility and responsibility must be balanced.
But, today, I’m not sorry one bit that I chose to do the things I did. Which was more important: helping my busy mother or cleaning my closet? The chaotic closet drives me nuts, it’s true, but my relationship with my closet isn’t nearly as important as my relationship with my mother. If, at the end of my life, my mind is filled with regrets for the lost time that I could have better spent in my closet, I’m pretty sure it will be a sign that my dear Savior is very close to taking me home.
And now that I have my real priorities straight, I’m not stressed at all. I realize that stress is just the product of a will that wants only the expected good, and interprets the unexpected good as an “interruption.”
So I will work as responsibly as possible toward fulfilling the expected good, but I will ask God for the eyes to see the unexpected good that He sends to me.
“What you have made me see,” answered the Lady, “is as plain as the sky, but I never saw it before. Yet it has happened every day. One goes into the forest to pick food and already the thought of one fruit rather than another has grown up in one’s mind. Then, it may be, one finds a different fruit and not the fruit one thought of. One joy was expected and another is given. But this I had never noticed before—that the very moment of the finding there is in the mind a kind of thrusting back, or setting aside. The picture of the fruit you have not found is still, for a moment, before you. And if you wished—if it were possible to wish—you could keep it there. You could send your soul after the good you had expected, instead of turning it to the good you had got. You could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other… One can conceive of a heart which…clung to the good it had first thought of and turned the good which was given it into no good.”
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.