It comes in a couple different versions, and it keeps popping up in my Facebook newsfeed, that generic photo of a thoughtful woman with a caption something like,
“She doesn’t know how she’s going to do it all,
but somehow, it all gets done.”
It strikes me that whatever photo the quote happens to fall on, “she” had time to apply make-up and style her hair in a gorgeous devil-may-care sort of way, but that’s mostly beside the point. Beautiful women who carve out a few minutes of their day for self-care can feel overwhelmed, too.
If I were making the meme, I might pick a hot mess of a mom in bleach-stained yoga pants and a shirt she’d be embarrassed to wear to the mailbox – simply to make myself feel better about not prioritizing the replacement of my own worn out wardrobe – but it’s the quote I’d really like to change.
The message we need, especially in the midst of chaos and self-doubt, isn’t that we will get it all done, and it certainly isn’t that we must get it all done. I daresay, because I suspect a lot of us are taking on burdens God never intended us to take, the message we need isn’t even that with God’s help, we can get it all done. Most often, we need to hear that our to-do lists aren’t as urgent as we think they are, that God never intended us to do Everything. Right. Now.
Most of the time, the things that genuinely need to get done will eventually get done. Maybe not to our standards, maybe not on our timelines, and maybe with a few adjustments and complications, but they get done. We put a lot of items on our lists, though, that simply don’t need to be there, at least not with the level of importance we give them.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed by everything that “needs” to get done, my husband tells me to relax. The dishes can wait. He doesn’t mind clutter; the mess is okay. Sometimes, I have to remind myself of this. I’m prone to occasional bouts of laser focus – Our homeschool sometimes takes a break for an Emergency Cleaning Day – cleaning almost to the exclusion of all else. Sometimes, if I’m honest about my housekeeping skills, that’s necessary, but given a choice of spending time simply enjoying life with family and friends (or recharging on my own) or having every last piece of laundry folded, I’m usually going to let the laundry pile up to mountainous proportions- and not just because I hate folding clothes. Life isn’t bound to a checklist.
There are only so many things a girl can do in one day. However high I aim, I can almost guarantee it won’t all get done. Very rarely do I get anything done, if I’m honest. Mostly, I’m getting things started. I’m very slowly learning that’s okay, that life offers more starts than finishes and many tasks will never, ever be complete. Some days, I have to train my eyes away from spilled milk and muddy paw prints, because saving myself from despairing of ever keeping the floor clean for more than five minutes – or worse, from resentment of the darling ones who keep the floor so, ahem, well-loved – is far more important that getting it all done. Character and relationships are more important than getting it all done.
During our wonderfully busy summer, I neglected my blog. Tonight, I come back, drawn by the feeling that offering a word of acceptance to others struggling to get even some of it done, with or without make-up and perfectly windswept hair, is more important than getting it all done. I know the struggle. I stand with you. Or sit. Yes, let’s sit.
Let’s set aside the stacks of papers to be filed, push the laundry basket into the corner, and put the cushion back on the couch. Let’s pretend we don’t see the smudges on the wall or feel the sticky spot where a kid dropped a piece of watermelon last night. (I’ll mop tomorrow. At least, I hope I will…) Tonight, let’s mull over a different thought:
She doesn’t know how she’s going to do it all,
but she’s learning to leave things undone
because her life is so much more than her checklist.
Let’s sit in life’s messy places and consider what’s important, what really needs to get done, and let’s trust God for the strength to do those things honorably and the grace to let go of the rest. There’s no rush, of course. Stay as long as you like, but if you don’t mind, I have a few things I’d like to get started before bed.