The Montauk daisies in my front yard were covered in small white buds, a sight so improbable that I had almost missed seeing them. You see, the plants had been an utter failure in their first location, and I had, initially, had high hopes for the sunny spot near the rock that looks like a rhino’s head, but two years came and went without a blossom. Apparently, however, this year’s blast of fertilizer, rich garden dirt, and lots of water are paying off in the form of gorgeous fall flowers.
I’m glad I persevered.
Somehow, sticking with a gardening challenge or editing a snarl of tangled words on a page doesn’t feel hard or horrible. I can pry up commas and nail them back down all day long, but don’t ask me to sew all day long. Don’t listen for me to “whistle while I work,” when it’s vacuuming day here on the hill.
Some tasks are just odious, and I have a feeling we’re all different in our preferences. Unfortunately, we’re NOT all different in our need to actually DO work that we don’t enjoy. How, then, do we keep persevering when the work feels hard and horrible? I’m learning some growth points in 2021 that I’m eager to talk about and share, and they come in the form of two messages that I preach to my own soul:
1. “I don’t need to feel like doing it. I don’t even have to want to.”
My kids got used to hearing me say, “I’m not asking you to want to ____________. That would be impossible. I’m telling you that you have to do it anyway.” Just last week, I said it to a student in the school where I was subbing–and I have also said it to myself.
It’s wonderful and freeing to engage the will! There is beautiful liberty in affirming that you are not at the mercy of your feelings!
After pushing through that initial feeling of reluctance, it’s amazing how quickly I can whip through a dreaded task. Is it writing thank you notes or paying bills that you find hard and horrible? Pick up some pretty note cards, stamps, and a fun pen and keep them in a convenient (and even comfy!) spot where you can work without being distracted by your phone or other more desirable tasks.
Set a timer and tell yourself to work hard for fifteen minutes. Brew a mug of your favorite tea and savor the taste and fragrance while you write or crunch numbers. If fifteen minutes didn’t finish the job, you may even power through anyway because you’ve overcome inertia–or you can make an appointment with yourself to finish later.
THEN be sure to cross the dreaded task off your list with a solid checkmark!
2. “What story do I want to be able to tell?”
I want my family to remember fun food around a welcoming table. It’s my goal to invite people in for meals in a setting where everyone feels seen and cared for, and I want my home to be remembered for its open door. All that would be IMPOSSIBLE if I holed up in my fortress and let the dog hair pile up underneath my feet.
When I look back over my days, what story do I want to be able to tell? My use of today’s minutes will comprise tomorrow’s story.Tweet
For me, the regular routines of housework feel like a never-ending hamster wheel, and, sadly, when I’m focused on other work, I can let the dog fur tumbleweeds blow under the dining room table and barely even see them. (Ugh!) Maybe for you, it’s the clutter of junk mail on the kitchen counter or the accumulation of coffee mugs and breakfast dishes in the sink.
Keeping your eye on the end result, ask yourself what’s one thing you can do right now? And while it’s certainly true that the pile of dishes on the counter looks insurmountable, drying them with a pretty tea towel helps my attitude and brings a touch of joy to the job.
Remember, our eyes are on the end result, so if we want grateful kids, we set the example by writing those dreaded thank-you notes. If we want a strong credit rating, we sit down and pay the bills on time. If we believe in a God who welcomes and invites, we make a phone call, extend an invitation, and light a candle in case the house still smells like St. Bernard even after a thorough vacuuming and mopping.
Persevering in the Mission and the Mindset
Writing from prison, the Apostle Paul prescribed a mission and a mindset for all the hard and horrible tasks we don’t feel like doing:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as your reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”Colossians 3:23-24
What hard and horrible task will you be tackling this week?
Speak truth to your soul–and then get to work!
Holding you in the Light,
Writing from prison, Paul prescribed a mission and a mindset for all the hard and horrible tasks we don’t feel like doing: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…” (Colossians 3:23)Tweet
If you’re curious about the pretty card and the watercolor-designed tea towel featured in this post, I invite you to hop on over to DeMaris Anne Watercolor Designs to enjoy her fall arrivals.
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