I’ve noticed a refrain throughout the course of my adult life. So much to do. So little time. It echos and reverberates as life goes on, becoming more hurried and frantic at times. So much to do. So little time.
I thought this school year would give me a chance to pull back and slow down a bit, but I feel busier than ever. So much to do. So little time.
Only . . . do I have to be as busy as I am? I can’t help but think some of the stress is self-inflicted. I feel stressed because of the expectations I place on myself and others.
If I decide that the house needs to be cleaned by a certain time and it’s not happening . . . If for some reason I expect a two-year-old to clean up after herself (or even a nine-year-old) and I look around to see toys and books strewn on the floor . . . If I want perfect surroundings, laundry done on schedule, no interruptions, I’m going to be stressed. If I expect to start school the same time we did last year and I find myself out in the yard cleaning up dog poop at 9 am, I’m going to be frustrated. But, if I adjust my expectations and just breathe . . . maybe I can appreciate the small moments and even the mundane tasks. (Probably not the dog poop, though.)
I was reminded to slow down recently. To ignore dust and toys on the floor.
This December, my two bigger kids are participating in the Christmas musical our church is doing, Inside the Outside Inn. Consequently, we’ve been listening to the CD of this production nonstop. I’m pretty impressed with the quality of the music and writing in this charming play. Puns and literary references abound, but they are very well done and should provide comic relief for adults in the audience.
Last week, as I was rushing around trying to make my house look “Pinterest-perfect,” I was also (naturally) listening to the musical. And the song “So Much Ado About So Much To Do” started playing.
How appropriate, I thought. I have so much to do!
It was appropriate. In the play, they have so much to do because it’s the busiest night Bethlehem has ever seen. The Inn is bursting at the seams! There is so much to do taking care of all the customers. The chores are overwhelming! There’s no end to the work! It all seems so urgent!
But what was really important? The couple the innkeeper turned away. If you were busy with all the tasks at hand, you would have missed them completely. But if you just stopped to breathe for a moment, you might have noticed them.
The most important thing in the history of the world was happening that night.
And compared to that, not one thing on the to-do list mattered.
Sometimes all we need is a little perspective. If I sit at the kitchen counter and sip my coffee for another five minutes, the world is not going to end. If, while I’m doing that, I enjoy the voices of my children as they play, I just might have more grace for them throughout the day. If I let go of my agenda and receive whatever is hiding in the shadows behind the urgent, I discover that I am blessed. The grace and the blessing overflow and others can be blessed in turn.