Maybe you’re discouraged today, dear friend.
Maybe you’re wondering if what you’re doing matters in the long run.
Last week I wondered, too.
I was reading over a list of New Year’s questions (meant for personal reflection and growth) from a sweet friend in a writing group. It was a wonderfully thorough list, meant to prompt confession, repentance, acceptance. Questions like:
- “If the last year could be summed up in a word, what would it be?”
- “What are the two or three themes that kept occurring.”
- “What are some major life lessons I learned this year.”
“What’s one thing I can do this year to increase my enjoyment of God?”
I breezed through them until I came to this one:
“What did I accomplish this year that I am most proud of?”
I sat and thought. What one thing did I accomplish that I was most proud of?
Honestly, I couldn’t think of one. I sat on this for a few days, thinking about it. Still nothing. This really bothered me.
It wasn’t that I hadn’t done anything. We live a busy life. But to not be able to think of one thing? This bothered me enough to write a dear friend to see if she could think it through with me. (THIS is the benefit of having iron-sharpening-iron friends.) We hashed it out a little and she helped me gain perspective.
Some seasons of life cannot be measured by accomplishments.
There are times when life happens so fast and people need you so intensely that what you accomplished hardly makes the highlight reel. (Think sickness, death, new baby, foster child, new adoption, moving, etc…)
This Christmas I planted a lovely amaryllis bulb that a sweet reader, Becky, gave to me. I’ve been watching it grow and bloom against the backdrop of the grey bare trees outside my window. It started as a brown bulb, a stump really, not very pretty but full of potential. I planted it, put it on the windowsill, and gave it water. Things must have happened underground, because now it’s in full crimson bloom. The flower was alive and accomplishing its task underground before any of us had any clue it was accomplishing anything. The growing season was an accomplishment that allowed the flower to blossom.
I believe our mundane days are the same–underground work, unseen, undetected, un-celebrated, but vital.
Maybe you are in a mundane season right now. Maybe all your hard work is unseen because it’s undone the very next day– the clean house dirtied, the once shiny sink now full of grimy water.
Moms, we feed hungry bellies. We wash clothes and remove stains. We wipe tears and console hurt feelings. We listen to little hearts. We make meals for others and host people in our home. We bake cakes to mark milestones for family parties and church fellowships. We bathe dirty bodies and change messy diapers. We stir stew and kneed bread. We watch our neighbor’s kids. We calm irrational fears and keep toddlers on our hip when they are whiny. We make sure our kids do their homework, get to their appointments, and make their beds. We sit with hurting women. We stay behind so that our husband can minister to others.
It’s not hollywood stuff and it may not be memorable, but it’s important. This is the stuff of life and it’s where God has called us to bloom. It may not feel like an accomplishment. Nobody’s going to celebrate that you made your bed and got tangles out of the two year old’s hair.
But it’s our sacred work. It’s our reasonable service.
My friend sent me this wonderful verse:
Ps. 37:3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
God doesn’t require accomplishments. God just wants us to be faithful right where we are. He wants us to take joy as we serve others in hidden ways that no one will ever know about except God.
My friend also sent me these lovely lines from Robert Louis Stevenson that I hope encourage you as much as they encouraged me!
“The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain common work as it comes certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life.”
“Everyday courage has few witnesses. But yours is no less noble because no drum beats for you and no crowds shout your name.”
And from Elisabeth Elliot:
This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”