Friday, August 21, 2015

"I have about seventy-five other things to do and the Missouri Compromise to straighten out."

     {If you know what book that quote is from, you officially have my stamp of awesomeness. If you don't you can ask me and I'll tell you it's from The Devil and Daniel Webster, which you must read if you want to call yourself an American.}

     I like doing things. I like being productive, keeping myself busy, and feeling like I've accomplished a lot. It makes me happy, and I feel like I've done something useful I can be proud of.

     But in the last year, I've noticed something; more and more, I seem to be developing a sort of obsession with getting as much done in one day as possible. Now, that can be a good thing -- I think it's good to have ambition and energy and be driven to accomplish things. I would hate to sit around and be lazy all day (well, unless I was reading a super good book...but then, I don't consider that doing nothing). When people aren't occupied with good things to do, they often get in trouble. Boredom is not healthy. I think you should have goals, and ambitions, and you should work towards them. Because, really, work makes a person feel good more than doing nothing.

    The bad thing is, I often fall into the trap of measuring myself and my worth by how much I can do.

     Every day, there are so many things I want to accomplish. I want to get up early and hit the floor running. I want to read that book, I want to write that blog post, clean that room, go to that place, make that, do this....Sometimes I drive myself crazy by trying to cram all this stuff into a single day, keeping track of how much time I spend doing one thing, planning what I'm going to do next. And when I don't get it all done, I'm disappointed with myself. Truthfully, sometimes I feel like a failure.

     I've had that feeling more and more lately. The reason being, it's late August, and (among other things) that means it's Allergy Season. I've had horrid seasonal for about as far back as my memory reaches, and every year it's the same; I pretty much feel awful for about three weeks straight. It saps the energy right out of me and makes every little task that much harder to do, which makes me feel like even more of a dismal failure for not being as productive as I should.

     I think most of us have struggled, at least sometimes, with that feeling. Our human nature makes us want to work to feel 'good enough'. We want to feel good about ourselves and what we've done or can do. We measure our worth in so many different ways, and we expect way too much of ourselves.

     I do this a lot, actually. I have expectations way too big for my own capabilities. I try and I try and I try some more, but it's no use. I don't make the cut, and I continually disappoint myself.

     Here's the thing: I will never do everything I want to do on my own. If I keep on trying with this attitude, I will always disappoint myself! It's like trying to sweep a floor when people keep tracking dirt across it. Not gonna happen. That's because I'm measuring my worth in my own silly human way. God has a very different way of looking at it. He doesn't measure me by how fast I can tear through I to-do list. He knows my true worth, what I can't even see, and He loves me regardless of whether or not I did this or that. Yes, He loves me even when my nose is running like a drainage pipe and my eyes are all puffy and red. He loves me when I sleep in until nine o'clock. He loves me when I get so discouraged I start crying. He loves me when I look terrible, sound terrible, and feel terrible.

     Like I said, I think it's good to have goals. I am all for being productive. BUT I'm learning that this is not all that matters. I'm learning to not have unrealistically high expectations of myself. I'm learning that my true worth is found in my Lord, not in how many words I wrote today or how many beans I picked. Will I still try to do a good day's work? Of course! But if I can't do everything, I won't beat myself up over it. I'll simply do the best I know how. I'll pray for strength and guidance, and I'll try to find the beauty and joy in each day. I'll make a conscious and honest effort to take what comes to me with as much grace and pluck as I can.


  1. Oh my....Emma!!!! You stole my blog post!!
    Heehee. I am literally in the process of writing a post SCARILY similar to this. So, all I have to say is, I completely relate and understand It's like you read my mind. :D

    Here's hoping both you and I can find joy in both a productive and a not-so-productive day. :) Lovely, lovely, post!

    (I'd say more, but since anything I say here will pretty much be in my blog post I'll leave it at this. heehee)

    1. Natalie, wow, really? ;-) I guess we've both been learning the same lesson. I hope I didn't steal too much of what you were going to say!

    2. Emma,
      Haha, yes! Isn't that neat? It's just so coincidental that you blogged about that....and this is the first time I've ever thought about blogging about it myself!
      Oh no, not at all. :) I admit I was a leetle worried at first, but after reading your post I realized we both had our own unique take on it....and how cool is it to get TWO views on the same thing? :D

  2. THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER! Oh my goodness, I LOVE that story. It's just soooo hilarious. I can't even begin to tell you how much I like it.

    I feel like this sometimes too. I have to tell myself all the time, no, you can't do everything all at once, and yes, it is okay if you can't.

    Thanks for this post. It's good to know that this happens to others! ;-)

    1. YOU KNOW THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER!!!! It's such an overlooked classic. Gaahhh. I love it. :-)

      Yup, it's hard sometimes. You're very welcome! I know, it's very encouraging to know that other people share your same struggles.

    2. I certainly do know it . . . I thought I was the only one that did, outside of my family, hahaha. It's too bad that more people haven't read it, IMHO :-)

  3. Beautiful, Emma!:)

    It can be so easy to get swept into the idea of trying to do things on one's own, can't it? I have that problem a lot, too. For me, it isn't usually concerning getting things done in a day, because frankly I'm too often more ready to relax in a day and read and watch movies and daydream and play with my typewriter and hang out in the blogosphere and stuff like that. That actually concerns me, sometimes, and then I worry that I'm just a lazy sloth who NEVER does ANYTHING. Which isn't true, since I am usually pretty diligent when it comes to schoolwork and required assignments. It's just that in the summer, I tend to just...vegetate, hehe. It's a bit of a problem, really...

    But anywho! You're so right--boredom should be avoided;) And yes! It's SUCH an awesome feeling to finish a day feeling like, "You know what? I was really productive today." :)

    (Oh, OH! Emma! I'm at the beach at the moment, and a couple days ago I was in a thrift store and found the original novel Dances With Wolves!!! :D I bought it, of course, and it's so far been ahmazing, BUT I'm torn over whether I should finish it, because looking ahead a little I discovered that, lo and behold, there's premarital sex. Which is irritating:( But anyway, my question is, do you think it's worthwhile to finish the novel? Knowing the story as you do, I mean.)

    1. Thanks, Olivia! :-)

      Oh my, yes. I can relate to that too -- that feeling of lazy, dreamy restlessness. It happens. I don't think it's a bad thing. We all need to relax sometimes. ;-P It's all in the attitude, really; you shouldn't beat yourself up about doing too little, and you shouldn't beat yourself up about trying to do too much. You just plain shouldn't beat yourself up!

      SO! Dances With Wolves!!!! (This is ironic, because I've been in a really Dances-With-Wolves-y mood lately -- I just changed our family computer's desktop to a picture from the movie. :-)) Okay, I've never read the novel before, and it's been several years since I saw it, but I will try to answer your question. Yes, there is that part, and it's super disappointing. :-( (I remember I didn't really like Stands With a Fist at all in the movie.) But I'm pretty sure they do get married, and I'd say if you're enjoying the book then it's definitely worthwhile to finish it. The ending is verrrrry feelsy. :-D

  4. Ah, Emma, this is so lovely. I can totally relate and understand what you are saying. Sometimes the line between being lazy and expecting too much of ourselves seems to obvious, and yet we can somehow fall from one to the other so quickly it's as if it's not very obvious at all. And also, what you pointed out especially stuck me as important - how the Lord loves us in spite of everything and how he never stops loving us, no matter how we feel or act or look! Yes. :-)
    I love the pictures you use. They're so gorgeous, I have to stare at them a good minute. :-D
    Also, may I just say something completely not related to this? I saw "Hello, Dolly" two days ago (mostly because I was reading your older posts and you recommended it) and it was so fun! I love the costumes and some of the songs are hilarious (particularly the Goodbye song Dolly sings to the grumpy guy whose name escapes me) and I laughed so much. :-D Because it was funny and entertaining, yes, but also because Michael Crawford was in it and when I hear that name I immediately think the Phantom off "Phantom of the Opera" and then seeing his character made me burst out laughing. I had forgotten he was known as a comedian. Haha. He was my favourite, aside from Dolly of course. ;-)
    Anyway, in regards to this post I say AMEN!
    ~Miss Meg March

    1. Thank you, Miss Meg. :-)

      And Hello Dolly! I'm glad you got to see it! It's sooooo much fun, isn't it? ;-D I love the 'So Long' song too. You know, I actually knew Michael Crawford as Cornelius Hackl before I ever knew he was the Phantom, so when I found that out I was very surprised. I mean, he's a goofball, how can he be the dark and broody Phantom?! But I guess he's a very versatile actor.

  5. Emma, this is one of those posts I love so much and agree with so much that I don't really know what to comment. :-)

    1. Naomi, I feel ya. Thanks for commenting anyway. :-)

  6. I LOOOOOOVE "The Devil and Daniel Webster." My sister (Rosie McCann) and I both had to read it as part of HS American Lit and . . . it's just awesomeness. I can't even put into words how much I love that story. I used to have long sections of it memorized--probably still do, if I think about it.

    "And now, let's see what's left in that jug, for it's dry work talking all night. I hope there's pie for breakfast, Neighbor Stone."


    1. I first read it a few years ago, after my mom read it and suggested that I'd really like it. (She knows me well. :-)) Since then I think I've read it three times. I memorized parts of it too!

      "You've certainly given yourself the devil's own row to how, Neighbor Stone," he said, "but I'll take your case."
      "You'll take it?" said Jabez Stone, hardly daring to believe.
      "Yes," said Dan'l Webster. "I've got about seventy-five other things to do and the Missouri Compromise to straighten out, but I'll take your case. For if two New Hampshiremen aren't a match or the devil, we might as well give the country back to the Indians."

      Hahahahahahahahahaha. :-D

  7. Very well written!!!! Thank you for the encouragement -- that's just what I needed to hear today.


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