The Day My Dad was Almost a Burglar

Have you ever felt great frustration because your hard work and service weren’t producing the expected results?

My daughter was babysitting on the other end of town one night when she called to let me know she’d locked her keys in her car – BOTH sets!

I suggested she call the road service, but she thought of my father. As the local fire chief, Dad kept a variety of tools in his car trunk specifically for getting into locked vehicles in case of emergencies. She called, and he agreed to come. “I know right where you’re babysitting. I’m on my way over,” he said.

Twenty minutes later, I received a text from her. “Mom, I called Papa to ask where he was, and he said he’s working on my car – except, he’s not. What do I do?” Continue Reading →

When Everything You Do is Never Done

Yesterday I went little nuts at work. The frustration got to me. My office mate heard my sigh and recognized it for what it was. “Feel like you’ve been working every minute since you arrived and haven’t accomplished anything?” she asked.

Oh yeah. That’s it. That’s absolutely it.

The problem isn’t that I don’t work smart or manage my minutes. I’m not a time waster, an enabler or a poor delegator. I’ve read the books, the blogs and the bulletins on how to be an effective manager. None of that is the problem.

The problem is that I work with people.

Most of the work I’ve done in life has been with people.The serious drawback to that (what they don’t tell you in school) is that people are never “done”.

I’ve chosen to invest the lion’s share of my energies in other people’s lives through mothering, teaching, counseling, coaching and mentoring. I love it. It’s what I was designed to do. But there are moments when I long to produce something that I can point to and say “There. It’s finished. I did that.”

But people can never be my accomplishments – even my own children. Whatever contribution I make to another person’s life becomes, quite rightly, absorbed into the fabric of their being and what they do with my contribution is their choice. Even though I work with people, it would be the ultimate betrayal of that work and a grave disrespect to them to see people as my projects or the outcome of my efforts.

Even the physical labor accomplishments of my days are short-lived. Housework is done today and un-done, well, usually on the same day. Meals are prepared and consumed and hours later there is need of another meal. One machine at the gym is repaired and moments later, another one is down. The brilliant bulletin board encouraging New Year’s workout resolutions is yesterday’s news. Time to do one on battling winter blues but I’d better get it up before it’s time to advertise spring classes to prepare for summer bathing suit season! Aaahhh!

Even in writing, I strive for that sense of accomplishment. I thought it would happen when I published something locally. Then, I thought I would feel it when I was published nationally. Then, I thought perhaps when I’d made a certain amount of money for an article. Now, I think maybe if I publish a book? But the older I get the more I realize that a sense of accomplishment can be an elusive thing.

Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the source of this drive for accomplishment.

This isn’t a blog post about something I’ve figured out and how now I’m ready to share my great wisdom. This is a post about a real struggle with me.

As a Christian, I believe the investment of my life should be in loving God and loving others but in the ways I’ve chosen to do that, I often wrestle with a lack of feeling accomplished. So, I wonder about the whole drive for accomplishment – where it comes from, how it’s measured. I know the answer to how God measures my accomplishment is in scripture but there seem to be a lot of ways to go with that one.

In Mark 12, Jesus sums up the scriptures with these two commands “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” And “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the place I start and where I return all the time to understand God’s measure of my life.

Do I care if others see me as an accomplished person or recognize my accomplishments? Honestly, yes, sure. Remember me? I invest in people so what people think does matter to me. But what I really desire more is to feel accomplished at the end of the day. And, I want to feel God’s pleasure in how I’ve spent my time.

So, I’m exploring this issue with God and wrestling with it myself. The definition of “accomplish” is “to bring about by effort, to bring to completion, to succeed in reaching”. How does a person sold out for Christ measure accomplishment at the end of the day – in things small and things great?

I take great comfort lately from a verse in Psalm 138:8 that says “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.” I trust God’s ability to accomplish, to see things through, to bring His work to completion – even me.

Maybe I’m being too vulnerable here but it’s a recurring struggle in my life.

What do you think? Do any of you wrestle with this? Am I alone here? How do you measure accomplishment? From where do you derive a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day? What advice do you have for me in this? What questions would you add to the discussion?