It dawned on me recently that August and Back to School are for me what January and New Year’s are to most people. The anarchy of summer finally yields to the familiar routines of waking and sleeping, carpooling, and working. Though more hectic, the start of the school year brings with it its forced ways that, like all good activity, after a few weeks, turn into habitual movements and synchronicity for all five of us. Or so I dream, anyway.
It never fails that, at times such as this, on the eve of another school year, I try my hand at getting organized at a level that is humanly unsustainable. In times past – and what feels like a different life ago – I would have dutifully sat down and composed a proper (read: exhaustive) to-do list of goals, aspirations and resolutions for the upcoming year — a new chore chart for the children, cute stainless steel cubbies for each child’s backpack and junk at the end of each day, a hyper-clean school and office supply station in our kitchen for homework time, etc. Like any good Type A perfectionist, it would be my fresh attempt at efficient productivity to kick off the clean slate that is the First Day of School.
This year, however, and for the past several years, at this time, although I yearn to do this exercise because so much of myself has been fine-tuned around the notion and pleasures of accomplishing things, I find myself not so much shrinking back from it as much as standing at a distance and examining it almost nostalgically. Mainly, because it no longer fits me and my life. This life.
God’s Plan, it seems, is quite hard to contain within the lines of my planner.
Do I have things I want to accomplish? Of course I do. But, as my current days have revealed to me, if I think that I am in control of tomorrow, I am not living Biblically. I’m not close enough to Christ if I believe my plans will prevail, even with discipline. The truth is, what He expects of me is that I steward today with the gifts and energy that I have, the wisdom and knowledge He provides, the path He opens to me, and the purpose for which I’m supposed to be nudging the Kingdom forward and the darkness backward.
A friend reminded me not so long ago, when I mentioned that I needed to focus on rearranging my life so that I do only joyous activities that utilize my gifts everyday , that God never promised us a life like that, and that to think that what I’m doing each day is without meaning or somehow wrong or misguided could actually be the enemy of my soul stirring untruths within me. I had never given this any mind, but as soon as she said it, I knew it was true.
I equate productivity, somehow, with doing things “right.” Do you? When I feel as if I’m spinning my wheels, in a maze of issues with the children or David or work, and the needle’s not moving at all, or perhaps even losing headway rather than making it, I associate that with failure, laziness, and stagnance.
But God’s planner has many, many open spaces, doesn’t it? Time for waiting. Time for rest. Time for doing hard things that don’t have a shred to do with any to-do list, much less goal or certainly not a self-centered Bucket List. Time for Him. Reliance on Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, and carrying on in faith. Hour by hour, day by day, in God’s Time, we transform from being “productive” to being a different kind of producer.
Hour by hour, day by day, in God’s time, we transform from being “productive” to being a different kind of producer.
One thing I do know right now is God has my attention. I am keenly aware that He is gently teaching me, giving me vital instruction that, if I keep my eyes upon Him and set my priority on stewarding the present of His presence in my life, I just might surprise myself at how the coming year unfolds. He is the great Teacher, and I am the student, going back to school.
So, all you warrior parents out there, sweating the small stuff, monogramming the daylights out of every piece of fabric in your child’s wardrobes and pinning every cute Bento box-looking lunch idea for the coming year, breathe. Be still more this year. Create space in your planner. You might be surprised at how taking a step away from the to-do list may actually allow you to see God’s Plan at work in your life.