(Yes, an old picture of me….and Butterscotch Teddyboo Bear.)
I was grumpy and frustrated today. I know. You’ve never been that way, right? ;-) The thing was this, I’d made a list earlier this week of things that I wanted to work on. Of all the items on that list, very little got done this week – in my opinion. I did do some, but woefully little and Saturday is not a good time to realize this. I also have been “meeting” unfinished projects lately all around the house, and even outside, that have been making me feel overwhelmed and under-accomplished! Added to all that, I’ve felt like I’ve lost my momentum on decluttering, organizing and getting rid of things. Argh! Frustration!
So, I was feeling sorry for myself this evening, when I “happened” to go read a blog post by Nony at A Slob Comes Clean. She posted a “February Decluttering Update”. I used the word “happened” in quotes because I don’t believe it was a random, accidental thing. You see, the Lord used that post to jar my thinking and get me to start focusing on what I DID get done in February instead of on what I didn’t get done lately.
In all honesty, last week was a heavy one for me. I did a lot – more than what is “normal” for me. I was exhausted by the end of the week. As some of you know, I have some limitations that I deal with which sometimes affect my ability to do things. I’ve been doing a lot better recently (Praise The LORD), but I still need to exercise wisdom in how much I do and commit to. Avoiding an overwhelmed feeling is important. So, I had said that I was going to take this week a bit easier. I just didn’t exactly expect it to be that much “easier”, if you know what I mean.
But, getting back the discouragement and how the Lord changed my perspective – As I began to think about the things I did do in February, the Lord made me realize that I’d actually done quite a lot (especially considering my limitations in the not so distant past!). Some of it is a bit foggy, as I’m not sure exactly when it was done, but it was recently any rate. :-) Some of it definitely was not what I expected to do this last month, either. (What, you never had that happen before?) ;-)
Admittedly not all the things I’ll list here relate to decluttering, but for me tonight the important thing was to lay aside the cluttered thinking that I was a failure and couldn’t get anything done! (Boy, can that one be discouraging and crippling!) Yes, we are to remember we are “unprofitable servants”, but I don’t think in the non-spiritual realm that it’s wrong to take stock of things once in a while. Luke 17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
Personally I see this more in the category of lifting up the hands that hang down and strengthening the feeble knees (Heb. 12:12, Is. 35:3), because I know that if I was teetering on the edge of despair about accomplishing goals and improving things around here, then there are others out there who were too – even today. And, I want to remind you, as well as myself, that this can be a real weight that will drag us down from running the race with patience (Heb. 12:1)! (Ouch. Ok, let’s not talk about patience right now. Ahem.)
So….a few things that come to mind which I accomplished, by God’s grace, and that He used to encourage me and help me take heart:
- Improved my craft desk by reducing the pile on it. It is in the dining room, so this is important (Read: highly visible to guests)
- Cut out three jumpers with my sister-in-law. (That’s pinafores in British English.)
- Sewed a new cover on an old hot pad. (Something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile.) And, finished a new one I’d started months ago.
- Sewed a cute ribbon on one of my kitchen towels. (Another something that’s been waiting awhile.)
- Hung a vinyl tablecloth with the fuzzy side out in the spare room so I now have my own “quilting wall”. (Yeah!) Also, cleaned up a little in there.
- Bought a lot of new shirts and discarded old ones. (I developed an annoying rash under my arms and cotton shirts helped it improve – which meant a pretty big wardrobe change. This was not easy. Finding tops that are mostly or all cotton is harder than I expected, and also I tend to hate change! I’d had some of those old shirts for years and it was actually kind of stressful to let go of some of them! At the same time, it felt good to wear some different, new things too.) :-)
- Got my “donate pile” delivered to the thrift store.
- Cleared out the fridge of old and useless things. (More later on that.)
- Survived a whole week without a water heater! (Very thankful to have family living so close who happily shared their shower!)
- Read Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. (Ok, so this is more recreation than anything, but it was something I’d wanted to do and just never got to it. It was an easier read than I expected and heaps better than the BBC dramatization of it!)
- Wrote some blog posts and worked on my potential book publishing project (though that last proved a real challenge and more discouraging than encouraging. I like making web pages and blogging much better than compiling books. Sigh.)
Even today I cut my husband’s hair and (finally) managed to make some good fudge brownies (gooey/chewy with a “crust”) from scratch for the first time. Neither of these where on my written list.
So, for whatever it’s worth, I feel a lot better about life in general.
All this reminds me of something I have done before to help myself see what I’ve actually done. This is that when I do something that was not on my “To Do List” I add it to the list and then cross it off. If this sounds crazy, I’d just like to say that I know at least one other person who admitted to me that she does the same thing. If there are two of us, I know there are more. ;-) And, after all, it isn’t such a bad idea. There are so many things that we do in the course of our days that aren’t on our lists – written or mental. It’s easy to forget them when we focus on what we didn’t get done! Then we feel discouraged and frustrated, not realizing that it wasn’t as bad as we think it was. It’s important to try to remember those things when we start feeling like it isn’t worth it to try because “nothing ever gets done” or “goes the way I planned”. I suspect it would have helped me to have done this lately.
Of course, it could have been better too. I admit that I wasted time this past week that I could have used more profitably. That’s a matter for confession to the Lord (1 John 1:9). But, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was either. We do make stumbling blocks out of pebbles sometimes, don’t we?
Nevertheless, the greatest thing was the comfort and help it was to me to have the Lord step in as a good Friend should and does, to encourage me and remind me tonight that it’s not all as hopeless and useless as I felt. (How we feel about it and what the facts tell us are sometimes so very different, and it’s so good to be reminded of that!) What a humbling blessing to realize that He was aware and conscious of my struggle and wanted to bare it with me! Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
As the hymn writer, Joseph Scriven so aptly put it so long ago:
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer…
And you know….I also realize another thing. Sometimes we just need to lay the burdens down. I’ve been carrying things (goals and expectations) around that were perhaps unrealistic, but certainly too demanding. I was serving them instead of making them serve me. Ultimately, it’s about serving the Lord but, in using this world’s things, it’s important to remember not to abuse it, but also not to let it abuse us. 1 Corinthians 7:31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away. In striving to improve our houses and make more order in our physical surroundings, we need to still remember that all this shall pass away. 2 Peter 3:10-11 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness…