I walked in from church today to see my dining room table covered with the disarrayed papers, binders, and whatnot. It reflected another week when I just didn’t have (or take?) the time to sit down and catch up on paperwork.
Why are these piles so challenging for me? Partly because my top priority isn’t dealing with papers, so I let them go until they are a necessity. Secondly, because I don’t LIKE paperwork, and third, because I’m a detail-oriented person. Mostly they bother me because I believe they reflect poorly on what I am accomplishing. I am often “careful and troubled about many things.” I want my life to be in order, and I want my home to reflect that. I want to handle each item carefully. I am afraid to throw away a bill or insurance notice or school flyer that I’m supposed to do something with, because I don’t want to cause problems for anyone or for myself. And I don’t like to slop something together–it goes against my nature. So it’s hard for me to just rush through something and get it done. I’m methodical.
I think I have some new insight on piles today from the time I spent at church: it mattereth not (1 Nephi 6:3; Jacob 5:8; Jacob 5:13; Alma 40:8; Alma 58:37; Alma 61:9; Ether 15:34; D&C 80:3; et al.). Where are my priorities? Am I doing each day the things that matter most? Am I focused on Christ? Am I clothing the naked? Feeding the hungry? I sure did a lot of laundry and made a lot of meals this last week: check! Did I lift the hands that hang down? Strengthen any feeble knees? I arranged my day to go see two of my daughters perform on stage and on the cross country course. I know they were both thankful I was there: check! Did I speak kind words to those who needed them? I had a sick child and a tired husband, and I tried to encourage both of them: check! There was a lot I didn’t do perfectly, but there was a lot of good I did do instead of sitting down and working on paperwork. This is what God wants me to do. Paperwork has a place, but it’s not always the first, most important place. Being there with a child or a spouse often matters more.
This is from my church notes. This image is such a powerful one to me: the bumps in the path of life are representing the trials and challenges we face. Sometimes that’s all we can see! But if we lift our eyes to the Savior, we can get the longer view that helps us overcome our trials and keep perspective. That’s the gift I got from going to church today: the comforting reminder that when I focus on doing what really matters in the long run–coming to Christ, service and kindness–that the rest will work out. Piles will get cleaned up. And I will have the satisfaction of having done what is most rewarding.
(“Christ with Mary and Martha” by Minerva Teichert. This image from ldsart.com.)
This is what I love about the story of the Mary and Martha. Christ reminded Martha that focusing on ONE thing– one person–Christ!–would help her know what was most needed in a moment. Mary knew that in that moment, she wanted to visit with and learn from the Lord. It didn’t mean that they wouldn’t be hungry at the end or that dinner didn’t need to be made or that what Martha wasn’t doing wasn’t valuable; it just meant that Mary was hungry spiritually, and she knew that need could be filled right then when Christ was there. I think that if I keep my eye on the Savior and try to seize the opportunities to get to know him, serve others as he would, and treat others as he would, when they present themselves in my day, that in the end, the other stuff that doesn’t really matter after all will get taken care of.
I am reminded of this quote from President Benson that I love: “When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives.” (“The Great Commandment,” April 1988).
So today, I’m going to stick the papers in a pile and not worry about them, but spend some time on the things that matter more: getting to know the Lord, counseling with my family, enjoying them, planning how to serve this week. I’ll trust that pile to the Lord to help me get done what is important during the week. Just for today, I’ll focus on the Lord.
I’m so grateful for fasting, for church, for the sacrament, for wonderful talks and lessons prepared lovingly and sincerely and the Holy Ghost strengthening me and helping me get that longer-view focus that I so very much need. What would I ever do without the Sabbath Day? Without ward members to strengthen me? Without priesthood ordinances like the sacrament that strengthen me for the coming week? Without inspired thoughts from the Holy Ghost that give me relief from my weekly worries.
It feels good to put the burden down….