Cease Striving: Confusion Say Proverbs is a To Do List

Dock…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. Philippians 1:6-7

I love a list. Did that. Check. Progress verified in writing. Lists help me to remember all the things I need to do and I feel a sense of accomplishment each time I can cross something off. If I do something not on my list, I like to add it for the simple satisfaction of being able to cross it off. Holidays are a great time for lists (and checking them twice) to aid in getting tasks done.

And for stressing about what isn’t getting done, for losing sleep and forgetting the reason for all these tasks – family, friends and our Lord, for getting cranky with our loved ones, and WHO put That ornament THERE!?… oh, wait.

Once we finally make it through Christmas, it’s time for New Year’s Resolutions! Another list! …yeah. Set a goal, or maybe 10. Common ones are eating better and getting more exercise. I even saw one on facebook that said “be more pleasant.” As a perfectionist, it’s easy to set my aim too high, in the wrong direction or too many directions and end up defeating myself before I even start.

Numerous Bible studies give lists of the qualities we should exhibit and we can begin to create to do lists –

  • The Prov 31 woman — weave, farm, lose sleep, feed everyone, work fast, be strong, start & run a business, make a profit, provide a portion for the household, give generously to those in need, produce well-made clothes and bedding to keep everyone warm, have another business, be wise and share this wisdom, don’t be idle. IF you do all this, THEN you are worth more than rubies, your husband will be respected and your children, husband and the whole town will honor & praise you. What? Whew! I’ll just give up before I start.
  • Galatians 5:22-23, Fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All facets of one fruit, without one facet the whole precious gem is damaged, flawed, worthless. *sigh*
  • 1 Corinthians 13 – No matter what I say, what I know, what I do or what I share, without love I am nothing, so I have to be patient, be kind, don’t envy, don’t boast, don’t be proud, don’t dishonor others, don’t be self-seeking, don’t get angry easily, don’t keep track of others’ wrongs, don’t delight in evil, rejoice in truth, always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere. Always? As in not ever not doing it even a little, not even once by mistake? Hmmm….
  • Don’t forget Titus 2, 1 Peter 3, Ephesians 4-6, and 1 Tim 5
  • And if you’re still feeling energetic, you can check out the rest of Paul’s writings and the rest of Proverbs. As for me, I’m tired.

Hmmm, I just made a list, didn’t I? But I can’t be the perfect Proverbs 31 woman. If you are, let me know the secret, would you? Proverbs 31 is wisdom from a mother to her son. Jewish comedies are fraught with the notorious epitome of the mother-son relationship, nobody is good enough for the Jewish mother’s son. But seriously, I believe the intent was to remind her boy what to look for, not necessarily to tell women what to be. It tells her son what kind of women would make a good wife to keep the relationship going beyond the puppy love. What to look for beyond the pretty face so he isn’t distracted by the temporary, the physical. Someone with whom to survive all life has to dish out, to count on for Godly counsel, to be a woman to love. Also, there are clues to women as to what kind of godly wife a godly man is looking for. What qualities will cause her to be treasured by those she meets. A reminder to both men and women to focus on deep issues like Godly character. This is not about perfection, just a picture, an example.

So, what am I to do? As the woman of the house, I have a huge influence on the tone of the house, an impact on the relationships between family members, not to mention friendships. It’s important for me to remember I am setting an example to my children and all who see me. Am I putting more effort into a task than the result is truly worth? Often, the cost is too high, the reward worthless – praise from others. Losing sleep, losing relationships all to give the right impression, do the job “right,” get praise and approval from others. What is the real value in that? There is so much more in life that is important.  As one perfect task is completed, the next comes along. A never ending cycle that takes the living out of life. I have learned if I put God first, the rest will work out. Studying & memorizing scriptures will put them in my heart so they reach my hands. Allowing God to bring the changes through study, knowledge, and opportunities to practice living out a Godly life, puts Him in charge of the spiritual to dos.  My best isn’t going to be THE best. God doesn’t ask me to be THE best, just my best with Him. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have standards, but I need to be realistic and remember what is important, relationships with people & Jesus, seeing the beauty in God’s creation, including my family and myself, including our flaws. It’s time to have fun, enjoy friends & family, live life… and trash the spiritual to do lists.