“When You Can’t Seem to Do Enough”
“… And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.”
2 Corinthians 3:18b (TLB)
I heard the sound of her frustrated howl before I eyed the sag in her slender shoulders.
Those angry wails led me to the kitchen table where I found my first-grader hunched over her math homework with a pencil in one hand and a butter knife in the other.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I can’t do this!” she moaned.
I leaned over my slouching girl and glanced at the worksheet that was causing so much angst. Rectangles were printed across the white page with these simple instructions: “Measure the length of each box.”
I watched as my 7-year-old attempted to align the edge of the butter knife with the base of the rectangle on her worksheet. She leaned in close and studied the glinting utensil as if the answer she sought might be scripted on the silverware’s silver teeth.
I crossed the room and plucked a metric ruler from the desk drawer. “Maybe you should try a new measuring stick.” I handed the ruler to my discouraged girl and encouraged her to try again. “The right measuring stick changes everything,” I said with an empathetic smile.
That’s a lesson I’ve learned first-hand.
When my five kids were young, I lived in a constant state of discouragement. No matter how I stewarded my time, I ended most of my days with the nagging feeling that I hadn’t done enough.
Sometimes I was defeated because I felt like I hadn’t done enough with my children. I hadn’t played tag or created a Pinterest-worthy craft with them; I hadn’t exposed them to classical music or worked on their ABCs.
Other days, I felt like I hadn’t done enough on the home front. I hadn’t folded all the laundry or mopped the sticky floors. Sadly, no matter what I accomplished in a given day, my best efforts rarely measured up to the expectations inside of my head.
Then one night, after listening to my rant about all the things I hadn’t gotten done, my husband gently challenged, “Maybe you’re using the wrong measuring stick.”
With a sage smile, he suggested, “Instead of asking, ‘What have I done today?’
You should ask, ‘Who have I been today?’”
At first, I shrugged off my man’s advice. But the more I pondered his quiet wisdom, the more I wondered if he was right. Had I been assessing my days with a butter knife?
It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t feel natural, but little by little, I began to change the way I evaluated my days. Rather than focusing on what I’d done (or hadn’t done), I began to consider who I’d been:
Had I been patient?
Had I been kind?
Had I been loving?
Had I been generous? And grace-filled? And real?
Humbly, I asked God to help me exchange the fickle rulers in my head for His faithful rule in my heart. And, eventually, my daily dose of discouragement was replaced by a steady stream of peace.
Our key verse reminds us that God is far more interested in who we are becoming than in what we are doing. So, on those days when it feels like we aren’t getting anything done around us, we are wise to remember that God is always at work within us. “… And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him” (2 Corinthians 3:18b).
God can use our productive and unproductive moments to grow us into the women He’s dreamed us to be. Our efforts may come up short, but God’s promises never will. And knowing that changes everything!
So, let’s stop measuring our days with that butter knife of doing “enough.”
Instead, let’s invite our Maker to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine according to His Spirit within us.
And then, one day, when we pose the question, “Who have I been today?”
We just might hear our Father whisper, “You’ve been a beautiful reflection of My Son.”
Dear God, help me exchange the fickle rulers in my head for Your faithful ruler in my heart so I can grow to be more like You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Peter 1:2, “May you have more and more of His loving-favor and peace as you come to know God and our Lord Jesus Christ better.” (NLV)
Ephesians 3:20-21, “I pray that Christ Jesus and the church will forever bring praise to God. His power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine. Amen.” (CEV)