Do the Next Thing

Ephesians 5: 15-16 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

Galatians 6:Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

God is teaching me lessons about time management and the fruit of perseverance.   This dovetails with the reading I’ve been doing in Deep Work – the book provides some of the discipline, God’s providing me the “why”.

When you’re a housewife, the days all blend together.  I left a comment at Scott’s that the work that I do isn’t Herculean – it’s Sisyphean.  It will *always come back*.  The laundry stone (which I don’t mind too much) the cleaning stone, the dishes, the meals… they roll right back down the hill as soon as you get them to the top.  After a while, Sisyphus stops pushing too fast – why bother?  You’re going to be doing the same thing the next day.  And whoever said that work expands to fit the time allotted was entirely correct.  Look, housework is intrinsically boring.  It just is.  I can get excited about a clean floor.  I cannot get excited about CLEANING a floor – especially the day before yard-work day, when dirty boots are going to tramp over it.  (This is how we know that Hearthie does not have the gift of service.  I will serve.  I will do the work.  But it doesn’t bring me a shred of joy, it’s just something that wants doing).

But there are things that I do love to do.  And I have to fight to make time for those things.  How does that happen?  That happens by just doing the next thing until I get all the things done.  That happens by pushing back against my natural tendency to get in my own way by insisting on huge blocks of time, and taking advantage of the time that I have in front of me.

And that’s mental discipline.   Instead of taking a break, I can choose to take five minutes to correct some papers or write a blog post or sew a section on a shirt.   I can choose to make a phone call.  I can choose to sit quietly, waiting on the Lord.  I can choose to read my Bible – or read anything enlightening.   Instead of letting my mind wander, I can choose to pray for the folks to whom I keep having those imaginary conversations.  Instead of letting myself hit “repeat”, I can sit down and write out my thoughts.  Discipline.  Keeping every thought captive.

After a lot of years not doing that?  It’s tiring!  Really tiring.  “Can I go to bed, it’s 830pm” tiring.  It’s like going back to the gym after a period of inactivity.   Training yourself to mental and spiritual fitness isn’t a joke.

But if we persevere, sometimes we get the “why” for that “what”.   So, this week I had two days where I didn’t have a lot to do.  Monday, I’d been running around “doing the next thing” and I had very little left to do on my weekly chore chart.  I’d *planned* to dig in my garden… but instead, I got a call from a client.  And I got a chance to go out and make some money for my family.   I took the opportunity.

And that was answered prayer.  I’d been praying about “I’d really like to do this insanely long list of things – I  don’t want to give up anything on my list, how can that happen, Lord?”  And this is my answer.  “Do not grow weary of doing good”.  In other words – get up, do the next thing.  Discipline yourself.

This has been a heck of a week for that, my emotions have been all over the place and my stress has been through the roof.  Honestly, I let the discipline I’d just started go slack – do you know what happened?  I missed it.  I missed that clear-headed feeling.  I don’t like the old, sloppy me.  I like the new me, the one who gets things done.  And I like the me who is doing things in faith, not in her own strength. I’m learning things about this discipline business.  I’m learning that it’s very difficult to keep my thoughts captive if I’m letting my brain get soft.

It all works together.

Do the next thing and learn to get stronger in the Lord…. yes, you’ll be tired.  I’m exhausted.  But I didn’t get stronger physically by sitting on my tail, and I’m not going to get stronger mentally by checking FB every five minutes.  I want to make good use of every minute that God has given me, be a good steward of the opportunities that I have.  I can’t do that by being lazy.  So.  Onward!

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