What to do when you’re overwhelmed with your to-do list…
I live in a perpetual state of undone.
My to-do list floats through my thoughts at rapid speed and I’m wracked with the stress of those scurrying scribbles that go unchecked and linger undone. The chaos and complexities of it all can either paralyze me or motivate me, it just depends on the barometer of my anxiety.
Life’s sometimes unpredictable. We all know that. We’ve all been there.
And when the tide hits, it can drown us with those unprecedented waves that hurl us toward unplanned obstacles, dismissing any routine with reckless abandon. The ever-growing to-do list becomes submerged in the ongoing current that wipes out the everyday mandates and distinguishes the priorities so carefully put in place.
This is where I’m at right now.
The whirlwind of complete overwhelm dominates my thoughts as I face the growing to-do list of UNDONES surrounding my home, my work, my marriage, my ministries, my friendships, and everything else that I didn’t have time to consider. With my first free morning to tackle it all, I am filled with an intense urgency to get things DONE.
These are the times I twist thoughts so tight I can’t even open enough room in my mind to tackle anything on my “to-do” list with clarity. Other days, when there is less urgency, I can safely plan a strategy to tackle all the un-dones and create a clear line of attack. But often I find myself disoriented and fragmented. I can’t seem to organize all my tasks and map out a productive plan to fulfill all my responsibilities. Instead, I get blurry and messy and impulsive.
Life is ever constant in its inconsistencies. It rarely runs smoothly and in a hot second, it can take us on a path we didn’t plan to go.
Yeah. It happens to us all.
And although that is often where the good stuff happens, the hard lessons appear, and the incredible miraculous growth takes place, it’s never an easy thing for me to get my bearings and ground myself in the midst of those hurling winds that sweep me up and out of my routine while taking my unchecked “to-do” list right along with me.
When I find myself in this frantic place, I try to stop and wave my S.O.S. flag as I reach out in prayer. I pull myself back from the overflowing waves of undone and offer God the inventory of my tasks, duties, and assignments I must discern. I then ask God to lay out my course. At that moment, it’s not about me- but about Him. I stretch waaaaaaay out of my own needs, my own wants, my own anxious ways and ask this one pivotal question, and everything changes:
“God, what do YOU want me to do?”
There is comfort in knowing He is the God of DONE. He is the anchor of assurance. He is the unmoving, unchanging, and unfaltering Creator of all things. He knew this day and all the days before. His plan will be revealed in all the tomorrows. There is no blurry mess where He reigns and His message reveals to the world THE most important “to-do” has been DONE.
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:28-30 NIV
I open my heart to this truth, and my perspective shifts. The great I Am has already spoken, and my to-do list full of Undones seems infantile, irrelevant, small. Not that those things are unimportant or should be dismissed- but they are less significant in the big picture of His Kingdom and this world. Surely, God wants to fill me with His peace and lead me in His Purpose for my life, and by gosh if getting that laundry done means that will happen, then by all means…
But to meditate on the greatest work of this world and reflect on His words “It is finished.” reminds me of the true priority in this life. Soaking in that magnificent truth with the awe and wonder of it all, helps me realize that my undones are simply tiny pebbles on the path of His Plan. My lens adjusts to this revelation, and I am transformed with a new vision of what may be most important to Him on my “to do” list.
So I ask Him to lead me.
I quiet my own voice enough to hear His, in the silent surrendering S.O.S.
Sometimes it takes a while to shut up long enough to hear His whisper.
I’m quite chatty that way.
Other times I take over and my flesh scrambles and claws my way to peace.
It’s much harder that way.
Those days are exhausting and I still squirm and scribble on and on with things undone, with little room for His say.
Each day I face, I want to hold up my flag and listen for His voice and shut up long enough to hear it.
I want to invite Him into my “to do” list to help me pick out what He wants to get “done“… Through me.
I want to fall into His Grace and bask in His Glory with unending reverence for the biggest “Done” I can check off my “to do” list.
I want to remember always, how fragile this life is and how His View is so much better and bigger than mine.
I don’t want to lose sight this truth. Ever.
Lord, help me quiet my mind, so I can hear your guiding voice. Open my heart to your plan and purpose for this day. Guide me through my Must Dos and Want Tos and help me discern what you want to be done, and give me the strength to leave the rest undone. May your peace cleanse my urgency for my plan and pour new intention for yours. Show me where to accomplish YOUR to-do list, and walk by me as I take those faithful steps with your purpose, not mine. Remind me that there is only one “Done” on this earth that means most to you. I’m forever grateful to know I have that checked off my list.
*The original version of this piece was proudly published on Her View From Home.