When Life Gets to Be a Bit Much

DO YOU HAVE LIFE ALL FIGURED out yet? If so, please comment below or email me. I’ve been trying to get a handle on it for more decades now than I will admit.

Some days, life seems overwhelmingly complex. So many things to do….to think about.…to remember….so many people with whom to interact….so many emotions that clamor for attention.

Like many others, I’m sure, I try to corral the chaos and complexity with To Do lists, with written goals and plans for reaching them, with trying out the best in personal improvement and productivity and time management ideas I run across.

But even as I sense progress at times, I realize there are whole vast areas of life that surround me—areas with which I have little or no connection. I can check off my personal “To Do” list, but what about Darfur? I can add to my savings account, but what about the war in Iraq? And speaking of Iraq, is growing Islamic power part of Bible prophecy….and if so, should I be carving out time to research that for myself?

Am I being a good father, grandfather, or soul companion to the people who matter in my life? Why is my car still doing the same thing it did before it was supposedly repaired? Should I be taking this new supplement I read about so I might live longer? Should I dream of some great life adventure such as traveling to Nepal—or should I maybe think instead of helping the homeless nearby?

Life gets so, well, BIG sometimes. How can you take it all in—do it all justice? How can you keep from getting whiplash as your attention veers from here to there?

Since you can’t be God and see all that’s happening, how can you do a good job of at least prioritizing what’s in your sphere of awareness?

Some thoughts:

  • I’ll never get everything done I want to do in this life—and maybe only part of what I think I should get done. Maybe that’s what eternity is for—to keep checking off the “Do” list, with forever to get it all done.
  • Then again, maybe what’s important isn’t always what I do—as what I am. Get the inside right—and the outside takes care of itself?
  • Perhaps I could use a little humility in admitting that while I can figure out many things with just the good mind God gave me, I can’t always: “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps”—Jeremiah 10:23. Why else would God say to me, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye”—Psalm 32:8.
  • I think I’ve decided that if I go through life filled with guilt and regret over the good things I haven’t done, the bad things I have—and with anxiety about the future—I’ll end up living in a very dark place. I’ll try to do all the good I can but realize I’m imperfect and limited. I’ll deal with the bad things as Jesus invites me to: through confession, repentance, forgiveness, and starting new again.
  • With multiple calls for my time and attention and thoughts, I’ll be pulled willy-nilly from this to that to something else, till I’m dizzy—unless I have at least one solid anchor—one centerpost in life to which I stay connected. For that, I have options—among them: secular humanism, agnosticism, New Age philosophy, or no centerpost at all. My own choice is the person of Jesus. When I get disoriented trying to navigate the sea of life, He is for me the North Star.
  • Finally, I need to accept that life here on earth will never be as simple as it was when I was an infant, when my chief challenge was to eat and sleep. But then, as life has grown more complex, it’s also grown more rewarding.

Everybody has a story. Barnes & Noble and Amazon have thousands of biographies for sale. Then there’s your story. And mine. The only one you can live is yours—the only life I can live is mine. Let’s do our best—and wish each other well!


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Loree Waite on September 15, 2007 at 2:31 am

    I was nodding my head so much while reading this post, I had to stop and re-read sections over and over! I really resonate with the time-feeling-pressured thing, and the not knowing where to start on my to-do lists. Sometimes I just go in circles in my house–my primary work domain these years–carrying wads of paper, random armfuls of dirty linens, cups, a few binkies, a shoe, whisk broom and half a banana….then trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing with all the stuff—and where! It helps to know that other people feel the same way and that others ask those deeper questions too….not just “where am I going?” but “How am I helping?” I guess, like you said, Ken, all we can really do is our best. And right now, since it’s 2:30 am, I think I’ll do my best to get to sleep before my early rising children come calling!


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