“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given and then sink yourself into that.
Don’t be impressed with yourself.
Don’t compare yourself with others.
Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”
Galatians 6:4-6 (The Message Translation)
Go ahead and just reread that. I’m right there with you. I’ve read it again and again this last week. And I’ll continue to reread as many times as I need to read it to make the truth of it take over my heart and mind. It’s a battle, isn’t it?
I need all the parts of this: time to carefully figure out who in this crazy world I am and what I am to be doing with my minutes, hours days. It’s so easy to just work nonstop, but how many of us are doing more than the work we’ve been given? By that, I mean taking on work that truly is not ours to do. It may be our spouse’s work, our children’s work. It may be work that it isn’t anyone’s.
One of the hardest lessons I had to learn at a former job was to let go.
I knew that, “If I don’t do it, no one will!” was true about many things. I had taken on running several school wide events that stressed me out, wore me out, and that I felt I should do for the students. One year I announced at the beginning of the year I wouldn’t be doing a certain event any more. If someone else wanted to run it, I’d be glad to give them my notes, but I wasn’t going to be in charge.
Yes, as it got closer to the usual time of year for the event, I was asked what was going on and I explained I had said months before I wouldn’t do it anymore and no one else stepped up. There were some tense moments. I remained adult about it, smiled, and stood my ground without apology. I even told those that asked, or were upset that they could take it on if they wanted, but I would not. No one did. And we all survived.
Because, really, if it isn’t important enough to anyone else, is it really important? If no one else will do it, do we need it? Would everyone give a heartfelt sigh of relief from one less event to deal with? It was eye opening for me.
I began to look at other events in other areas of life and came to the same conclusion. Did we all really need to do all these things we’ve always done? I love traditions, don’t get me wrong, and I wouldn’t suddenly just out right quit something that I’d agreed to do. But neither should I be the one doing it all simply because I always had.
It’s so easy to take on more than we should. We go on autopilot and then get handed more and more, especially if we are the type that are so dedicated to making something the best it can possibly be for everyone else. It’s also flattering to feel that others enjoy what we do and that we are good at it. I know that.
I am a person who is able to see both the big picture of a project and detail-orientated enough to make it actually happen. I can make that vision in my head a reality. And it’ll be great. I’m not bragging. I just know it’s true. I also know that it’s mostly a result of how my brain is wired.
But it’s certainly not easy, even for me. I work hard and expend a lot of time and energy to make something the best it can be. I take endless notes and make lists and try not to drop details. I stay up way too late and think all night long and worry and fret like everyone else. Some things are worth that. But not everything.
I finally worked my way down to one event a year. I’d be in charge of that thing and you can know I’ll give it my all. That also means, I’ll not be helping with all the other events going on. No, I’m not going to do that. No, I can’t take this on. Maybe next year if I’m not running this event, I’ll be able to help with that. I have decided I won’t be on that committee. I know my event isn’t for months, but I am still unavailable.
Setting down the burdens I had picked up, or had thrust upon me, wasn’t suddenly magically easy. I want everyone to like me and telling them no makes me afraid they’ll be mad, or not like me anymore. It’s a risk I take reminding myself that my true friends will love me. It’s even harder for me to tell family no in any form. Oh, how I want to please them. I’ll twist myself still into so many stupid knots for them. I’m working on it.
I love that image of sinking into our work. It’s just the opposite of how we so easily flit from one thing to another to another, isn’t it? There is so much to do and we’re like those circus performers dashing from spinning plate to spinning plate giving each a whirl just enough to keep them from all crashing down around us. It overwhelms.
But if we can truly sink in we will focus on our work and be able to complete it well. Yes, even as I write there are others literally spinning around me. I chose not to speak, but tap the signal that I am working and turn back to the screen. Soon, it will be time to stop this work, but I can leave it with a smile and the knowledge that I have done my responsibility here. Then it’s time to rise up and choose to move on to the next work: breakfast. 🙂
Have a lovely day.