THE CLOCK SCREAMED AT ME. There was no alarm, and no actual screaming, but as I looked at the numbers, I was reminded of all the times my mom used both my first and middle name. Hearing her yell, “Rebecca Anne,” meant I was in trouble. Not just any trouble, but big trouble — the kind of trouble I couldn’t charm my way out of — the kind of trouble that surely meant some sort of punishment was on the horizon.
I had that same exact feeling looking at the clock. Only this time there was no one to scold me but me.
‘I can’t believe you did this. It’s already 12:13 and you have gotten nothing done. How could you do this? You wasted the whole morning. You can’t do anything right.’
I hung my head and turned away from the clock while my internal scolding did a number on me. I had no idea where the time had gone, but it was true. I had not accomplished much of anything. There were, of course, some things I had managed to get done. I wasn’t just sitting around relaxing all morning. No, that would have been purposeful and blissful. Instead, I moved through the morning routine. I got the kids going, making sure everyone was dressed and fed (including myself). But after that, not much was accomplished. I hadn’t produced anything. Nothing was checked off my always growing list of things to do. The lack of productivity left me feeling like I had failed...again.
Somewhere along the way I subscribed to the mindset that measuring up equals accomplishment.
As I stood with my back to an imaginary measuring stick, I knew I was not making the grade today. But then it occurred to me: What if there is no measuring stick? What if accomplishment and productivity are just things that are part of life instead of things that determine our value?
It’s easy to think we need to do and be more. From even the earliest of school years we are rewarded for what we do, and for some reason we have transferred this beyond the classroom to the very core of who we are.
I had let my lack of productivity define who I was as a person. It’s easy to do growing up with sticker charts and report cards. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with either, but for someone craving worth deep in her bones, the stickers work like band aids. They cover a wound but never really heal it.
And here I am as an adult still looking for report cards. Only now they come in the form of crossed out to-do lists, summer bucket lists, and curated lives that fit in the perfect squares of Instagram.
To be completely honest, I have no idea how to move forward...
The clock keeps screaming my lack of accomplishment with each tick of the second hand, and I desperately want to make it stop!
I know I could grab my list and start plowing through, but somehow that doesn’t feel right either.
As I stand in the middle of the kitchen the clock fades and something changes. It is a realization that comes slow and quiet, like a whisper from far away:
I never gave you a to-do list.
The idea feels foreign and oddly calming, and I know immediately where the truth lies. God never gave me a to-do list. He never called me to a life of productivity and accomplishments measured in stickers or accolades. He simply called my name.
He called me to be, to follow, to love. These things don’t fit neatly in a box and they cannot be checked off a list. His Word is so clear:
You shall love the Lord your
God with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your strength
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself
LUKE 10:27 ESV
I battle this idea a bit in my mind, like a tug-of-war I know I’m going to lose, but I hold on just the same. There are things I need to do, things I have to get done. I have to be responsible. Right? And I do. But the truth is, no matter how much or little I accomplish in my day it will never add to or take away from how God views me. He already sees me and knows me better than I know myself. No checklist, bucket list, or any number of social media likes will ever change how much He loves me.
So, let’s move ahead with the things we need to do, and get them done. Or not. That isn’t what is important to God. Remember, God already measured us in and through Christ, and He’s declared us enough.