Years ago, I ran across a clever cartoon drawn by artist Cathy Guisewite. In the first panel, it read: TO DO, 1955. There was only one thing on the woman’s list — “Marry well.” In the second panel, it read: TO DO: 1975. Still only one thing, but this time — “Transform the role of women in society!”
Then there was TO DO, 1995. The list ran off the page… everything from earning a living (in a rewarding career) to marrying and raising a family, taking care of laundry and groceries and bills, toning muscles, rebelling against aging, and even saving the planet!
In the final panel, Cathy has adapted the cry of the women’s liberation movement from “I am woman, hear me roar” to …
I know I can relate. Can you? Whether it’s our culture creating impossible standards and expectations for us, or our own perfectionism or people-pleasing…
Even if we have the best of intentions, the best possible motives…
We have a tendency to take on too much. Way too much.
We’re convinced we should be able to do it all, but we’re worried that we can’t. We’re stressed. We’re anxious. We’re afraid.
What if we drop the ball? What if we forget something? What if the time or energy or effort we have left to give just isn’t good enough? What if we fail — fail ourselves, our families, our friends. Our church. Our office. What if we fail God? What if we disappoint Him and let Him down?
We forget sometimes what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28:
He said He would give us rest. He said His yoke was easy and His burden light… meaning the weight of it all would fall on His shoulders, not ours.
“Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot
You know from your own experience that fear takes its toll.
Scientific research has confirmed that worry, stress, anxiety — these emotions can physically make us sick. They can both cause and aggravate health issues such as high blood pressure, heart palpitations, heart disease, nausea, dizziness, sweating, dry mouth, headaches, muscle aches / muscle tension, fatigue, insomnia, skin conditions, digestive disorders, infertility, asthma, arthritis, diabetes.
And they compromise our immune system – making us more vulnerable to other sicknesses and diseases.
Worry and stress can cause impaired cognitive function — loss of memory, an inability to concentrate, think clearly, prioritize, or make wise decisions.
It can rob us of the sweetness we are meant to experience in our relationship with God and with others.
There’s so much more I could say on the subject… I have — and I will — in the days and weeks to come. But as look at my own overwhelming “To Do” list today, as I feel my jaw tightening and the stress rising, I’m reflecting on these wise words from Jill Briscoe:
“The secret to ‘doing it all’ is not necessarily doing it all, but rather discovering which part of the ‘all’ He has given us to do and doing all of THAT.” ~ Jill Briscoe
God is reminding me that I need only to do the things HE has given me to do. Not the things I think I should do — or anyone else thinks I should do. Just what He has asked of me. No more and no less.
Truthfully, it’s not always easy to figure out what that means. But He promises to give me all the wisdom I need, all the direction and guidance I seek. I just have to ask Him! (James 1:5)
“In the darkest of nights cling to the assurance that God loves you, that He always has advice for you, a path that you can tread and a solution to your problem — and you will experience that which you believe. God never disappoints anyone who places his trust in Him.” ~ Basilea Schlink
What is on God’s “To Do” list for you — what is He asking you to do today?