What are those things you do that no one seems to know about?
Behind the scenes prep work. Long hours of clean up. The extra embellishments poured over to make it just right. Catering to everyone’s request and demand. All those thoughts that tumble through your mind; thinking about upcoming activities, messages to communicate, supplies to purchase, people to follow-up with, ways to improve processes and what went wrong this time around. Not to mention the time to do all of that stuff you’ve been thinking about.
Can all of this get to be an overwhelming frustration for you? Especially those things that seem to go unrecognized, unrewarded and unmentioned?
Let me be honest with you, my dear readers, these things can be my ticket to the largest personal pity party of the year. I have a tendency to let all of these things add up, drive me absolutely nuts, and exhaust me.
I try to be an involved participant in everything that I do. I volunteer to help a lot. My primary role in life is supposed to be an at home mom, but I’m not at home very often. In fact, many times I wonder if I am a complete failure as an at home mom. I am involved in several different things with different groups of people. One group may not even have a clue of what I do for other groups.
They are all good things. They are all connected to my family or my faith or my mission in life.
There are times where everything just piles up – one thing on top of another, on top of another, on top of another. I just want to get a bright yellow t-shirt that says “CAUTION: Don’t be the straw that breaks this camels back”. Then I mount my pity pony and ride through giant pity puddles splashing muck and mud everywhere.
There are so many frustrated thoughts that can loop through my mind at these times. Thoughts of giving up. Thoughts of walking or running away. Frustrations that everyone has a suggestion about what to do, but no one has hands to help. Or worse, having people who want to help but feeling so overwhelmed by it all that I can’t communicate properly how they can help.
Too often those thoughts send a devastating avalanche of emotions plummeting through my heart. It leaves me a weary and weepy mess; a mess that I have no one else to blame for but myself. I am the one who said yes. Now I am the one responsible for the mess.
So here I sit in my mess and look to God. Then I say to Him, “Lord, I have really made a good mess of things. I really need to work on the use of the words ‘YES’ and ‘NO’ in my vocabulary. Can you help me, please? What do I do with all of this?”
I finally find in my exhaustion and weariness that it is probably time I spent a little extra time just sitting with God. Just being with the Lord and letting the relationship we share be of higher focus of my time than the tasks on my to do list.
What is the problem?
For me it is not the work. Yes, there’s a lot to do, but it’s not hard work. I know how to do a lot of it, and I know the right people to ask for help. I even enjoy doing a lot of it. There’s nothing worth doing that doesn’t stink at least part of the time. So that’s not the problem either.
It’s my thoughts. That’s the problem. How I think about what I am doing. How I think about why I am doing it. How I think about the potential outcomes that could happen. It’s a problem in my head.
From memory I know Romans 12:2 talks about being transformed by the renewal of your mind. So that is where I turned to first. I normally use the NIV translation, but this time I went for the Message version to mix it up a bit.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:1-2 (Message).
How great is it that the passage begins “So here’s what I want you to do,”! How many times do we pray to God and ask Him for a direct, personal response? You know, those “dear God, please put a giant flashing billboard in my yard by my bedroom window and tell me directly what to do” kind of prayers. It’s right here in the text, here’s what I want you to do.
Take Away Truths:
- God is helping me
- My life is an offering to Him
- Embrace what God does for me
- Don’t just go through the motions of the day
- Fix my eyes upon God
- Recognize what He wants and respond to Him, let Him bring the change from the inside out
- God brings out the best in me, and will develop me into a mature version of myself
I am not alone in my work. God is helping me every step along the way. You are not alone in your work. God is with you every second of every day, help you even when you are sleeping.
Everything that we do, each and every day, no matter how ordinary or mediocre it appears to be, it is an offering to God. The best thing that we can do is to embrace it. I love that word use. The image it gives me is of me opening my arms wide to it, pulling it close to my heart, right up against me, and squeezing it with all that I have. This is so often the opposite of what I do in reality. More often I take my tasks of the day and hold them in an outstretched arm between my pointer finger and my thumb, like a sweaty t-shirt that has spent a semester fermenting in a stale high school locker room.
Fix my eyes upon God, recognize Him in the day and respond to Him. How many things to I do during the day in response only to others, rather than in response to God? Oh, how many times I have broken His heart and made Him sad. That makes me sad. But allowing that sadness to drive me to repentance, to ask for forgiveness and to be bathed in His mercy. Now that is God really working in all things for the good of those who love Him.
What about all that work that others request of us or ask us to do or that is our job to do? Well, God has an answer for that too: “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” Colossians 3:23-24 (Message).
Allow the work that is done in secret, the unrecognized, the unnoticed and the unmentioned, to be work that is a sweet secret between us and the Lord. Embrace it. Accept it. Hug it, even.
I know that I need to shift my thinking. When we love someone we will do insane things to surprise them and bring them delight. We will work, tend to details and generously pour thoughts over it. What if I saw my work, the piles of details and follow-ups and communications and planning and clean-up, what if I saw them all as sweet secrets that were part of a surprise for someone God loves, for a “neighbor” that God has called me to love as well.
Sweet Secrets that just may take away those superb frustrations I have have been battling.
What about you, dear reader, do you have superb frustrations in your day right now? Could you use a few more sweet secrets to delight your days? Whatever the case, I am praying for you.
Dear and Sweet Lord,
Thank You so much for meeting us where we are each at individually. Thank You for caring so much about our ordinary days. Thank You for the answers and the directions that You give to us through Your Word, Your promptings, Your Spirit and through those around us. Your work is just amazing, awesome, and amazing.
Lord I pray that You would help us to really embrace the work, the tasks, and especially the people that cross our paths during our days. Help us to draw them near to our hearts, to wrap are our arms around them and give them the effort of a good squeeze.
Help us to not get so wrapped up in our own thoughts that we forget that we are working for You. Help us to look to You for those needs of recognition, of mention and of being noticed. Help us to be motivated to do what You ask with great care because of the sweetness of the secrets that we share with You and the work that we do with You as our best offering to You.
In the sweet name of Jesus, amen.
If you would like, feel free to submit a prayer request for me to pray more specifically for you.