I Can(t) Do It All.


Today, I rise with the sun. Greet the morning, pour the coffee, wrestle tiny protesting bodies into fresh socks and thick, wooly sweaters. Brush teeth, comb hair. Revel in a luxurious shower. Put on makeup. Provide a nutritious breakfast AND leave the kitchen gleaming afterwards. Today, I can do it all.

Mounds of laundry, stacks of dishes, today you are no challenge at all for me! A frenzy of vigorous activity and before I know it, you are folded, shining, and put away in drawers and cupboards. My children--see them smiling over there on my impossibly white living room couch?--They have been quiet and well behaved all morning, reading books they have no desire to tear into tiny pieces and playing with their toys that do not end up scattered all over the house. The dolls are with the dolls and the blocks are with the blocks and I’m tearing through work I need to accomplish on my computer, checking item after item off my to-do list. Because today, I can do it all.

What’s this? An email from a client, asking if I’ve met my promised deadline? Why yes, I accomplished that way ahead of schedule. Last week, in fact. And here’s a message from a friend. Lunch soon?  “Why not come here now?” I say. My house is immaculate and I have nothing at all I’m supposed to be doing, because everything is already done. Today, I can do it all.

My husband comes home to a veritable feast I’ve prepared, photographed, and posted to Instagram. The meal is not at all difficult to prepare with the help of my darling preschool children, none of whom drop an egg shell into the batter or argue over who gets to stand on the blue chair or stir the wooden spoon. Afterwards, there is no flour settling like dust in a thick layer over the floor and I do not have to pick any of their hair out of the meatloaf. My husband and I have such a wonderful conversation during our meal and nobody at all interrupts us because our children are too busy saying please and thank you and chewing with their mouths closed, like I’ve taught them to do. Oh, how we laugh as we enjoy their company and then tuck them all peacefully into their beds, a process which they never fight because they love getting into their pajamas and going to sleep every night. After the kids are asleep, which happens instantly, my husband and I relax in our hot tub with a bottle of wine and spend quality time together, neither of us staring into our separate glowing rectangles thoroughly ignoring each other. Nope, it’s quality bonding time followed by going to sleep at a respectable hour. Because today, I can do it all.

What’s that sound? BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Oh drat. My alarm. Looks like it’s morning for real and as usual I’ve overslept. My children are screaming and hitting each other in the head with the toys that have been blanketing the living room for three weeks straight, I can’t remember the last time I showered, and I’m starting to suspect a raccoon may have constructed a permanent home in our laundry pile in the basement. It’ll be cereal for breakfast this morning and probably pizza delivery for dinner. My inbox is overflowing, I’m way behind in my work, and I doubt I’ll see my husband at all tonight because he’s way behind in his too. I pull my pillow over my face and wish I could return to sleep. Today, I just can’t do it. Not at all.

Turns out, my life is nothing like the life people appear to live on Pinterest or in magazines. My house is rarely clean, my children are messy, squirrelly, argumentative, feisty little human beings. I’m not the most patient parent, or the most loving wife, or the most reliable, dependable worker bee. I can’t do it all. Not at all.

When I can’t do it, when I wake up and want to put the pillow back over my head, ignoring my responsibilities with a “nope, nope, nope,” it isn’t me who gets me through the day. It isn’t me who picks me up and reminds me I have an incredible gift and purpose as a wife, mother, friend, and worker. It isn’t me who has beautifully and wonderfully created me and equipped me with the gifts and talents I need to do the work He has assigned me to do.

God works on my heart daily teaching me to be content with my messy house and chaotic life. He listens to my apologies and wipes my tears, reassuring me I’m forgiven when I’ve screwed up as a wife or mother for the thousandth time. He encourages me to keep going, to renew my focus on Him, to find the greater purpose he’s given me buried beneath the piles of dishes and laundry.

Nope. I can’t do it all. But:

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13.

Thanks, God, for never abandoning me! You’re there on my best days, and you’re there on my worst. Thank you for giving me the strength to “be content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12). My purpose isn’t simply laundry or dishes, Lord. Nor is my goal in life to have the most pinterest-worthy existence. Instead, you have asked me to make disciples of all nations, and part of that commission means teaching my family through example and your Word to know and love you. Help me to do this with a cheerful heart Lord, trusting in your guidance. Amen.