Today was a good day . . . at least, I’m on my way to believing it was. A year ago I would have labelled this same day a disaster because I didn’t cross a single thing off my list. Maybe that doesn’t sound disastrous to you, but I struggle with an addiction to getting things done. I am the queen of lists, the princess of projects, and I revel in the never-ending quest to make my house perfectly tidy. Over the last few months however, I’ve come to see that the god of accomplishment demands much of me, and offers nothing in return. This is my testimony of how God is graciously helping me give my whole heart to Jesus.
I first realized that I worshipped the god of accomplishment when my husband pointed out that I tend to measure the success of my day based on how many tasks I complete. Whenever I feel anxious or overwhelmed, I deal with my stress by making a list of all that I have to do, and then doing those things as quickly as possible. Getting things done makes me feel better, much more in control.
But eight months ago, I gave birth to a wonderful, wild and curious little boy who lowered my daily productivity level by a significant sum. His arrival gave me more reason to be anxious and overwhelmed than ever, so of course I tried to cope by making lists and tackling the things that overwhelmed me. Only, I wasn’t able to take care of my son and accomplish what I needed to accomplish in order to feel okay.
I realized I had a choice to make: I could turn my back on the god of accomplishment and spend more time being with my son, or I could give in to the god’s demands on my family life and continue to get stuff done. It was a difficult choice because the god of accomplishment offers me control; by serving him I can manufacture peace any time I feel overwhelmed.
I wavered for a few months, giving each god a piece of my heart. But I kept hearing these whispers from Yahweh each time I put my need to get things done ahead of my little boy’s well-being. He was telling me that my son was too high a price to pay. I already gave my Son so you wouldn’t have to.
I slowly came to realize that the god of accomplishment had demanded too much of me, and that all the things he offered were counterfeit. What I was gaining through my lists and constant stressing was false control and false peace. But even at this point, I didn’t know how to go about turning away from a god that I had served faithfully for so long, so I asked for help from my Father.
That was about six months ago, and since then, God has shown up in my life by using His people to graciously guide me back to Him. During the Man of Fire sermon series, I was reminded week after week that Yahweh is the one true God and that he does not tolerate syncretism. I’ve been mentally tearing down altars to the god of accomplishment, and ‘calling on fire’ every week since. Then, at Forestview’s Women’s Group, someone shared a thought that helped me so much in my understanding of Sabbath rest: she said that when we refuse to rest, it reveals pride and a belief that the world cannot go on without us. I have been coming back to that thought every time I think “but I just have to do this one thing.” I have been surprised to see that everything is okay even when I don’t get the laundry done, even if I don’t organize my email inbox. God doesn’t need me to do things.
Then again, during Advent, I was reminded to give my heart fully to Jesus each week as we prayed,
Come to me, Jesus, and come all the way in.
I lay down the distractions, forsake my obsessions and renounce my love of sin.
Come to me, O Child of Bethlehem, and come all the way in.
Just like we learned during the Man of Fire series, I’ve found that turning away from false gods is slow work. I keep seeing the god of accomplishment cropping up in my life, and just like we kept tearing down those paper altars on the stage, I have to keep tearing up my lists and renouncing my sin of putting accomplishment ahead of people. I still have a long way to go, but God has been very merciful. I am discovering a freedom in letting go, a truer peace than I ever produced for myself by checking off all the items on my list. So yes, today was a good day . . . and with God’s help, tomorrow will be even better.