By Heidi Goehmann
Sometimes, the big things of life get the better of us.
Sometimes, I look up to find my laptop open to seven different tabs and feel paralyzed by the amount of work left to be done in the day.
Sometimes, I go to bed berating myself for not making more time for one more conversation with my kids, not getting in enough time to pray, or not texting my friend to check up on her after surgery.
Sometimes, I look at my lonely hand weights sitting underneath the cabinet holding my DVD player and streaming device, and I do not know how I will make time or create the energy for an hour-long workout, especially when I only have 10 minutes to sit down, two baskets of laundry to fold, and several pages of editing due in two days.
It’s in these precise moments when I usually lose my head.
It’s in these moments when I’m more likely to snap at my family, binge eat the bag of chips or chocolate-covered almonds, flip on my TV, or scroll through my phone just so I don’t have to deal with life and its sheer amount of stuff vying for my attention.
Because the stuff of daily life will always be there, because needs will always be there, because relationships will always need attention, and because bodies will always need tending to as well, I try to remind myself of two things:
- I’m mortal.
- Tiny goals.
First, I’m not God, and it’s not my life’s work to try to become Him.
There are things I shouldn’t commit to and times I need to be upfront with my limitations.
Boundaries are never easy, particularly when the work of the Gospel is at hand, but it’s important to remind myself that, while God has called me to do kingdom work, I do not run the kingdom.
It’s helpful to check in with my body, not once a year for an annual preventative check-up but several times a day.
Perhaps I need to set an alarm on my phone or set a schedule for a reminder to check my mortal state:
- What does my body need right now?
- Am I hungry? Tired? Energized? Content?
- How much sleep did I get last night? Was that pretty normal for me?
- Do my legs need to stretch?
- Am I anxious, sad, bored? How is my body letting me know that?
Mortality is good. It is a reminder we are the creation of an Immortal God.
By noticing our mortality and the things our mortal bodies need in a given day, we also bring the opportunity forward to notice His work in those bodies and in our lives.
When I notice my body, I can also proclaim what He has done in this mortal body.
This body of mine is baptized into Christ Jesus.
This body of mine has been marked as one redeemed.
This body contains a heart, mind, and soul, which He is working in every day.
This body He will raise on the last day.
Until then, this body relies on Him and Him alone.
Most of the time my mortal body needs something when I check on it. My body needs rest or encouragement or food or some sunshine and the vitamin D it provides.
During my short time on earth, I am given the task of taking care of this mortal body, which in the long run is God’s and He is always faithful to that which is His.
That’s why I need some tiny goals.
What small ways can I steward this body and life God has given me?
That’s the heart of those first struggles I began with — the many open website tabs, falling asleep to my never-ending (while wonderful) relational to-do list, and my unused weights.
How do I get all the work done God has given me to do?
How do I use my words and time and love my family and friends, congregation members, students, and neighbors well?
How do I make time to care for my body through exercise and nutritious food?
It’s OK to break it down and take one tiny step at a time.
Jesus Himself reminds us in Matt. 6:34:
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Plans are good. Even this verse does not tell us to completely ignore plans, but perhaps a broader application of Jesus’ statement is that we don’t have to take care of everything at once.
What small thing can I do to make a bigger change?
Perhaps I can do a 10-minute strength training video instead of a one-hour video.
Maybe I can make a to-do list at the beginning of each work day to understand what needs to be done immediately — versus what can be done next Tuesday — and avoid that feeling of being completely overwhelmed.
Maybe I can find an accountability partner or mentor to pray with me regarding relationships at work, at home, and in my community.
It’s a first step to stewarding this body and life that I am so greatly blessed with by our Lord, Savior, and Sustainer, Jesus Christ.