A year ago I was working at fall camp – the college ministry I work for runs a weekend retreat for the students every fall – when something small but extraordinary happened to me.
I don’t remember the exact topic that the speaker was talking about, but it came to a point where he asked the question “what is God calling you to do?” It’s a great question, and can be answered on so many levels. I can only imagine how I might have responded to that question as a college student – the world is so open with possibilities at that stage in life. I know that at least a couple people that night answered that question by saying “He is calling me to missions or ministry,” and I’m sure there were others that had equally big answers.
And then there was me – half listening to the message, and half completely absorbed in adoring my coworker’s baby girl, who was only a few weeks old at the time. I snuggled her close and just stared at her sleeping little face – she was so perfect! We were early in the adoption process, so no doubt my hormones were running wild as I anxiously looked forward to being a mama to my own little one.
I’m not sure exactly what I was thinking about when the speaker asked the question, but I’m sure I was somewhere between making a mental list of everything we needed to do before the baby got here, planning a million things to do with our kiddo, thinking of every craft imaginable that needed to be made for our little one, and honing my general plan for running the entire world.
In between the whirlwind of thoughts and I-want-to-be-a-mom hormones, I stopped for a split second to think “what is God calling me to do?” And in the form of a question, God spoke a soft answer to me: “how about you don’t try to do it all?”
It was a bit startling, this gentle voice in the midst of crazy thoughts, and it caught my attention. Maybe, just maybe, I didn’t have to go into parenting with the highest expectations in the world. Huh.
I am so, so thankful for that moment. In the months leading up to Luke’s arrival, I kept this small revelation in my heart, pondering it occasionally. And now that he’s here, it’s easier to live out. It’s just a reality that my days will not always (or even ever!) go as planned, my house cannot maintain a constant state of cleanliness, and projects sometimes take ten times longer than before. And when I feel myself getting stressed about something, I remind myself that I don’t need to – nor can I – do it all. Sometimes my expectations may start creeping higher, but so far I’ve been able to keep it in check.
And this is not to say that I’ve got this struggle under control – I’ll probably always wrestle with wanting to check one more thing off my to-do list. But it has been such a huge grace from God to have a bit of perspective, and I am thankful for this work that he is doing in me. I’m also grateful for the experiences that he put in my life to prepare me for this awesome responsibility and privilege of parenting. The long process of remodeling our house taught me patience and the ability to enjoy times of relaxation and fun even when projects are left unfinished at the end of the day. Our experience with infertility made me realize how much I wanted a family, and it’s never far from my mind that Luke is such an amazing gift in our lives.
Those experiences, along with other life lessons, have helped me embrace my life – not my to-do list – more fully than I might have been able to without going through those times of growth. Sure, I’d love to get all the laundry done, but I’d rather have it pile up if I have the chance to give Luke my full attention while playing on the floor with him. (This is not to say that I never multi-task, just that I know my limits. I’d multi-task my life away if I wasn’t careful!).
It’s crazy to me that small moments can have such a big impact on our lives. I’m so glad that I had that moment, and so happy to live life without trying to do it all.