This summer, I have had to learn to ‘let myself off the hook.’ My to-do list constantly exceeds my capacity to accomplish tasks, and I had to make a choice: I could be upset and stressed out about what I wasn’t getting done, or I could find peace with what I was able to do. Obviously, peace is better, so something had to give. This blog was one of the items that fell off of my weekend to-do lists. I made my decisions and let go of the things I couldn’t get done. I decided that this Saturday morning I would get back to blogging, but now I have a quandary about when to wash my car!
I have been surprised to find not only peace with the give and take, but joy in all my work. While I have always wanted to be a professional writer, I love my job in banking. It energizes me because there are always new things to learn and problems to solve. These past few months, I have been involved in a project that has allowed me to expand my knowledge and use my skills to implement a new process. While the overtime has been tiring, I have thrived on the challenge. I feel blessed to have a job that suits my talents and brings me satisfaction.
Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.Ecclesiastes 5:18
I have also found joy in smaller accomplishments. As silly as it seems, one of the highlights of my summer was replacing the screen in our kitchen window. Last spring, I removed and cleaned all of our window screens, but I couldn’t get the screen back into the kitchen window. I fought with it for an hour and ended up damaging it. I swore the condo must have been built around that screen! For a year, we didn’t open that window because the screen was bent out of shape. It became an item on my to-do list that I never got to. Finally, I got a replacement screen. When I went to install it, I encountered the same difficulty I had experienced before, but this time I wasn’t alone. My sister was helping me and wisely said, “I think we need to pray about this.” A few minutes later she wondered out loud if we could remove the sliding portion of the window. We could, and we did. This allowed space to get the screen in. There was great excitement, rejoicing, and praising God. The breezes through the kitchen window are once again helping us save money on electricity.
A similar moment of rejoicing occurred when I was replacing the hose that connects our barbecue to the propane tank. I had gotten out my tools and was struggling to disconnect the hose from the barbecue. I was hurting my wrists and getting quite frustrated. My sister joined me, and at first, it seemed useless. Finally, I got bigger wrenches for more leverage, and with her holding tight one side, I was able to get the other side to turn. It is amazing how happy I was over that little achievement. The enjoyment continued that evening when the barbecue worked well (no more leaks!), and the hamburgers were delicious.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
I think most people know inherently that it is better to have a partner on whatever job they are tackling. Even people who normally enjoy working alone want to have a partner for the tasks in life that challenge them. As a single person, I feel this whenever I have to make a big decision. Perhaps the greatest obstacle is finding someone you can work with who can be trusted to lift you up if you fall. I think many people marry without considering the work that will be shared in the course of life. For young people, who have not lived much on their own, a spouse may seem like someone to share all of the fun things with. The responsibilities of everyday life may not seem like a factor. I had a newly married friend who told me how she and her husband had worked together to repair the bumper of their car. She had backed into something and dented it, and they didn’t have the money for a professional repair. So, they watched how-to videos online and went to work. I knew that practicing this kind of teamwork was a good thing for their marriage. I have known married people who couldn’t even agree on who should do the daily chores around the house. The dented bumpers and damaged window screens in their lives never got fixed; they just become points of argument.
I am thankful that, while God has chosen to keep me single, He has given me someone to share life’s joys and challenges with. My sister and I have been living together for more than twenty years. We’ve figured out the give-and-take of the everyday chores and developed the teamwork to face challenges and adventures together. We still have our own decisions to make, but we both have someone in our corner. Truly, this busy summer is a reminder of so many blessings that God has given me: my sister, my home, my job, and all of the people who love me (or even just tolerate me). I am thankful that I have learned to have joy in life’s toil, even when the work to be done isn’t what I wanted to have at the top of my to-do list.