Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Burdens or Gifts? (Elizabeth)

"You don't know what you've got until it's gone."

I thought I'd defied this maxim, especially where time was concerned. I budgeted my entire day into simple categories to keep myself as productive as possible, but really I was living like my life as a means to an end, rather than what it really is. A gift.
I used to have a chronic scheduling problem. It wasn't necessarily bad in it of itself, but I'm not sure it was the healthiest way to live my life. Allow me to show you:

This list reads from bottom to top. I used a handy dandy app to time every single activity. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I timed when I brushed my teeth, how long I spent with friends and family (that would be underneath the Relationship category), how long I ate... everything. And at the end of the day, I got a pretty little pie chart:
So what's the problem? Well, it'd gotten a bit obsessive. I required every spare minute--nay!--every spare second to be productive (And I only used social media strictly to promote my blog, so yes, that's productive too). While that might sound absolutely wonderful to some, I realized that certain things can't really be measured, and I'm not sure if they ever should be. We not only don't need to control everything, but we shouldn't control everything. I still have a student planner I use, but I'm not timing my waking hours anymore. I've decided that having a little wiggle room in my life spices it up with spontaneity and leaves room for God to interfere with my schedule, which is a good thing! Though it's taken me a long time (about the entire 17 years I've been alive...) to figure that out. 

God spoke to me about this during this past ACFW conference, during Allen Arnold's continuing education, and the point was hammered in by Allen's book The Story of With. If your life is beginning to feel like an endless to-do list, I'd highly recommend it. All that to say is: God's ultimate goal isn't your productivity. Yes, productivity is important, but one day all the work we've done and books we've written will crumble into ashes. Why wear ourselves out on building something temporary? Especially when we can focus on eternal things while actually enjoying our lives, like building character and relationships--as my dad so often likes to remind me. 

I'm not encouraging you to quit working. God's given each of us a purpose and a job for this life. The blessing to create masterpieces, whether it's a book, a painting, or a building, is a gift unique to mankind. But gifts aren't supposed to be rushed through. When you open a box of chocolates from a spouse or friend, you don't stuff them in your mouth and choke them down. You savor each one. With that, I hope everyone will be reminded not to treat their lives like a means to an end or their talents like burdens, as I've often done, but to treat both of them like what they really are: gifts. 

If you could change anything in your schedule, what would it be? Do you over-schedule or under-schedule? Have you ever treated a gift like a burden? 

Thanks for reading!


  1. This is a wonderfully inspirational post, Liz. Thank you for posting. As much as I would love to be as structured and productive as you are, I lack your drive. I want to do great things, but that kind of high intensity, ultra-efficient lifestyle just wears me out and makes me not want to do anything at all. Combined with my tendency toward procrastination and near inability to work without a deadline or some sort of outside accountability, I suppose this makes me far less efficient than I should be.

    However, I love schedules, and if I make them, I generally stick to them. The thing I would change would be the family bedtime/wake-up time. What takes me two hours in the morning takes me half as long if I do it after 9:00 or 10:00 in the evening. I work best later in the day, and yet because of our family schedule I have to get up early in the morning, which leaves me too exhausted by nightfall to take advantage of my prime productivity time.

    Thanks for the great post!

    1. Well, thank you! :) There are advantages to a bit less structuring than THAT :P I can be a bit obsessive.

      That's a great ability to have. And at least you can counteract your tendencies with the ability to stick to your own schedule. Hmm... I always find it strange how people are more productive in the evenings ;) I hope you find a slot of time later in the day to get some of your other tasks in.

  2. What a great reminder Liz, thank you! I've definitely been guilty of treating my writing as a burden, but I'm even worse about thinking of my kids as burdens on days when I'm tired or they're fussy. I need to remember how fortunate I am to have them, even in their challenging moments, and how many people out there long for the blessings I take for granted. I tend to get a little overzealous with my productivity at times, too - I can see how that app would be dangerous!

    1. Lol! I've never been a mom, but I'm sure most have ;) Thank you for sharing, Laurie!
      And yes, it can be dangerous. My parents keep on reminding me to do everything in moderation. ;)

  3. What a great, profound post, Liz. I struggle with this to an extent, and this is such a great reminder to let go and leave room for people and the things you can't control. And also that love and your own personal value are not measured by productivity and how hard you work. I'm going to reread this post every once in a while. And I'm glad you can have such a good perspective about this now.

    It makes me think of the Keith Urban song I love so much, "All that Wasted Time." Great song.

    Thanks, Liz!

    1. Why, thank you! I'm so honored that you gained so much from this post!

      I'll have to look it up ;)

      As always, my pleasure!


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