In his heart man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Although summer is wonderful with no homework, sleeping late, and fun adventures with my kids, my “to do” list gets pushed to the back burner. By August, balls are crashing down all around me. Knowing this, I thought I had the perfect solution: this year all three kids could be enrolled in Vacation Bible School (VBS).
In mid-August, Monday to Friday, for three hours a day, I’d have the time and space to catch up on my life. A friend and I even planned a child swap after camp so that each of us would have one day from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. kid-free. I could hear angels singing just thinking about it!
By the time the first day of VBS rolled around, I had a “to do” list a mile long. At drop-off, it was as if a race gun was just fired. I sprinted home and jumped into my list full throttle. My neck muscles were clenched, and my breathing was shallow and fast as I raced from one thing to the next, trying to get it all done. I was so focused and determined, I don’t think I even ate, drank or used the bathroom during those free blocks.
However, someone must have fast forwarded time; those mornings went by in a blink. Before I knew it, it was time for pick-up and not much had been crossed off my list. Each and every day I drove back to the church feeling frustrated and downright cranky. The week that was supposed to magically leave me light and task-free, left me feeling more burdened and discouraged. Obviously my expectations were my down fall. Silly me: I thought I could cram an entire summer’s catch-up into a few measly hours. Expectations have always been my Achilles heel.
Conversely, my in-laws came to visit for five days from New Jersey. I love my in-laws and don’t see their visit as a burden at all, but the sheer nature of hosting that long means everything gets put on hold while you spend time with your guests. My expectation was that any and all things I had to do would have to be postponed, with the list just growing during their stay.
However, on day four, my in-laws offered to take my kids to the movies and McDonalds. They were gone for all of three or four hours, but you would have thought I was just given a week’s vacation! I was excited yet peaceful, and amazingly productive. I did the exact same mundane and annoying things that I did during my VBS week, but it all seemed like a gift. That unexpected free block of time had me reframing my approach from “have to” to “get to.” I actually felt fortunate that I got to send emails, fill out paperwork, and do household tasks. That shift in how I viewed my time and tasks made all the difference in the world.
It reminded me yet again that God’s plan is always better than mine. He understands us moms and sees all the piles and lists. He wants to help. He does create the time and space so that what really needs to get done will get done. But I forget that.
I have this delusion that I can control time and circumstances, and then I expect that I can get it all done in a fraction of the time that it actually takes. Moreover, I leave Him out of the equation. But each and every time I approach life like that, I end up frustrated and downright cranky, just like I was during that week of VBS.
Yet when I relax into God’s plan and leave my expectations behind, I always come out on top: important tasks completed, neck muscles relaxed, peaceful, and extremely grateful.
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