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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Just Do One Thing


Do you ever have days when you wake up and feel so overwhelmed that you would want to go back to bed because you just can’t, there is just too much on your plate, too much to do, and you just don’t have the energy or the brain power to tackle it all?  

Maybe those days come because you have been traumatized.  

Maybe they come because you have become so discouraged that you are barely hanging on and feel depressed most of the time.  

Maybe you have those days when everything seems to all come at once and neither your plate nor your calendar have enough room for it all.   Or, if you have recently gone through a divorce, you may feel that way because of the overwhelming loneliness that has come to your home.  

Whatever the reason, that experience can become debilitating. What do you do?

How do you manage when you feel life has become unmanageable?  Of course it may involve prayer, it may involve counseling, it may involve the support of good friends, but in addition to all of those, there is a simple truth that can help.  When things get to be too much, when there is more than you can possibly do in one day, when the plate is so full that you can’t even lift it, then it is time to adjust your focus.  Hone down your perspective so that your attention is not consumed with everything, but instead is consumed with ONE thing.  

Find ONE thing among all the things, that you can do first.  One thing for today.  One thing for this hour.  One thing to begin with.  Forget about trying to do everything, and do one thing.  Let that become one step.  And do that ONE step.  No matter how long it takes, no matter how much energy it consumes, no matter how many other things you leave behind to do it, do that one thing.  You will then be able to scratch one thing off your list. Afterwards, you can consider what might be the next thing, but that is only afterwards.  Right now, do the one thing.  And measure success by doing ONE thing, not by whether or not you do EVERYTHING.

One thing is progress.  One thing is something.  One thing is one less thing that awaits you.  One thing is an accomplishment.  One thing is one thing you can take off the plate, because it is done. One thing means that you ARE not doing nothing.
Oh, sure, there may be other things thrown onto your plate while you are doing that one thing, and the schedule may become more full even as you make progress on the one thing.  But when you feel like you can’t do ANYTHING, that ONE THING proves otherwise.  And when you are talking about doing everything you can, some days, one thing may literally be ALL that you CAN!  Give yourself credit, then, for the one thing you have done.

Once you have managed to accomplish one thing a time or two, you might decide to take a day to tackle TWO things that day.  Or, it may be that the one thing you select gets done in less time than you thought, at which point you might decide you want to do one more thing unexpectedly.  Eventually, you will get back to being your own self.  In the meantime, give yourself some grace, and focus on what you CAN do, not on what you CAN’T.   

All of this reminds me of a passage in Isaiah that often comes back and gives me hope in dark days.  Isaiah 61, quoted by Jesus as referring to himself, describes the difference God wants to make in our lives, the changes he wants to bring about.  In verse three, a couple of changes described are these:
                  “the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
                                     the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit;”  (RSV)
There is a replacement for the heaviness of heart of our lives.  God wants to replace the gray skies of mourning and fainthearted weakness into gladness and praise.  But often that replacement occurs only one step at a time.  As you step ahead, take time to give God thanks for who he is, for his help in each thing, and to celebrate the fact that one thing has been done.  As time goes by, God will restore your soul and you will discover the gladness and praise that you seek.  

But for now, just do one thing.  And then, let that one thing count!