Read Revelation 4 (The Prize)
“For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction,” and apparently it is paved…
With good intentions.
The last part isn’t exactly Biblical. It’s true though. Good intentions did not get my laundry folded yesterday. They also don’t get birthday cards in the mail, phone calls made or books read to children.
Spiritual discipline is not something most of us want to think about when we also have small children running around under our feet while we juggle all the balls we have in the air. Adding one more--spiritual discipline—threatens to topple the whole side show. In reality, getting that one figured out brings the rest of it into balance.
And this objective of mine, trying to overcome the compulsive need to procrastinate is a step on the road to discipline. There are days I feel as though I am in bootcamp facing an obstacle course. Instead of walls to climb, ropes to swing from and barbed wire to crawl under, I face patience tested, unending services to be rendered and things that really need to get done on time.
I want to break down on the sidelines and cry like a girl. It’s just too much!
It’s times like this I draw on the testosterone laden verse I memorized along with my husband for a men’s leadership class a few years back. I imagine the apostle Paul as my drill sergeant:
"Don't you know that in a race ALL the runners run, but only one gets the prize?" (You’re not on your own out there sweetheart).
"Run in such a way as to get the prize." (Do this to WIN, honey. Not just to finish).
"Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training." (You’re not the only fish in the sea, princess).
"They do it to get a crown that will not last, but you do it to get a crown that will last forever." (You know what the prize is, right)?
"Do not run like someone running aimlessly; do not fight like a boxer beating the air." (Know your goal, lady. This race is HARD. You need to be READY for anything).
"NO! Strike a blow to your body and make it your slave." (If you think it hurts now, think how it will hurt then if you sit here and CRY instead of TRAINING).
I don’t like it when he talks to me that way. I prefer flowery encouragement. But sometimes the best encouragement is the no-holds-barred-put-on-your-big-girl-panties-and-just-DO-the-thing approach. (Patent pending on the catchy title).
My instinct is to throw in the towel when things get complicated. I often do just that. Literally. I prefer folding laundry nice and warm from the dryer, so if it’s cooled off from hanging out in the dryer, I’ll reset it for 10 minutes. Then I end up getting involved in a project that keeps me away for an hour so that when I get back to the dryer, the towels are cold again. Another 10 minutes, and another hour. The cycle repeats itself until I figure out it’s not working. I am, in fact, a very slow learner.
I’m too old to be hung up on perpetual procrastination. I used to think I would just outgrow it, like acne. I’m coming to understand though that it is something I must intentionally overcome.
I surely haven’t come close to overcoming anything yet, but I have come to a few conclusions and developed a few strategies on the matter.
1. I have stopped (for the most part) making excuses. So what if it’s part of my DNA? That doesn’t make the repercussions less offensive. And it doesn’t make it OK. Remembering my mother-in-law on her birthday and thinking fond thoughts does nothing for her if I put off getting her card in the mail.
2. I make myself accountable for things that are really important. My husband knows why I need to be out of bed at 5am. So if I linger in our cozy bed too long after the alarm obnoxiously buzzes, he willingly pokes me in the back of my knees, grumbles in my ear or removes the covers exposing me to horrendous cold so I can accomplish my goal. He is a sweet man.
3. I plan ahead. I plan meals, shopping lists and birthday cards in advance. I schedule time for working on Sunday school lessons, Drops and school stuff on a calendar. I pay bills as soon as they wander through the front door. I still miss stuff every now and then, but being super aware of my shortcomings helps me develop strategies to overcome them.
Intention can get you some of the way, for sure. Like the first year we were married and I made my husband the most hideous birthday cake ever. Stapled together with toothpicks and frosting studded with cake crumbs, it was an awful sight to behold. He loved that I cared enough to make the effort though. At least that’s what he told me.
Having good intentions is useless.
We need to act on them.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22
Not “TRY to do what it says,” “DO what it says.”
If the plan fails, it fails. You’ll likely learn something from the attempt, and if you have a kind receiver, the effort will be appreciated. And I’m pretty sure your internal drill sergeant will appreciate the effort as well.