Sunday, October 2, 2016

Unfinished Projects

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Ecclesiastes 7:8 

My mind is overwhelmed right now by all the things that are not finished around my house and in my writing.  I've got piles of bills, papers and documents to file. Clutter from a friend's move, shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, groceries that need to be put away and laundry that seems to multiply if left alone for a minute throughout my house.  My neighbors have cute fall wreaths on their doors and pumpkins on their front steps- none of that has happened at my house.  Not only is my house full of unfinished projects but my blogging notepad is full of unfinished thoughts and random scriptures.  I haven't published a blog for the past two weeks. Over the past two weeks,  I would sit down to write but after jotting down a couple of paragraphs, I became distracted and decided to finish later but later never came. Partially finished blogs about cleaning my long neglected back porch and my thoughts on God's role in appointing leaders exist in a scattered format that I may get to one day. My writing hit a mental block that I couldn't find the mojo to push through.   So no blogs and lots of random unfinished thoughts. 

As a result of these unfinished projects, I have been struggling.  I like to check things off my list and get that sense of accomplishment that comes from saying, "It is finished." I hate the nagging thought in the back of my mind that I have a little more to do, to clean, to write.  I want to be done.   

The first part of Ecclesiastes 7:8 sums up my view, "Better is the end of a thing than its beginning." The second half of this verse is a little harder, "the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit."  I want to finish things because it makes me feel good and gives me a sense of accomplishment.  Like an adrenaline rush that a extreme sports addict gets, I love the proud rush of "I did that."   I like seeing results whether it is painting a room, finishing a book, making a cake or spreading mulch.  

Being patient is hard.  It is hard to be patient and not get frustrated. It is even harder to be patient when things are out of my control.  Kids take years to grow up, opportunities slowly unfold, people don't seem to change and dreams get deferred.  Getting to the end takes patience, grace and the understanding that some things can't be finished in an afternoon. 

I learned from Proverbs 14:29 that "Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly."   This verse highlights the beneficial correlation of patience and understanding.  If I give myself understanding; patience comes easily.  Understanding shows me that the Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes stacked in my dining room are waiting for National Collection week, my friend's boxes will be moved when her house is built, I will be fine in the long run if I never get pansies planted or a pumpkin. Understanding helps me when I am frustrated by traffic and Google maps shows there is an accident two exits away.  Understanding lets me adjust my expectations, change my plans and sit patiently -grateful that I wasn't trapped in an overturned vehicle far from home. 

Understanding has taught me that even things that are important can often wait. I realized my need to feel accomplished was driven by pride and prioritizing what other people think rather than what God has called me to do at that time.  The writing didn't happen because I was distracted by a bunch of other things that had to get done, birthdays to celebrate and carpools to drive.  

Deadlines and dependability matter but sometimes it is more important to give myself and the people around me a little understanding which helps all of us have patience.  Patience helps me not get angry or frustrated, it helps me take a long term view that enjoys life and isn't always driven to achieve and get things done.  While I am so happy to say this blog is finished and I am looking forward to hanging a fall wreath on my front door, giving myself understanding and having patience took the stress out of all my unfinished projects and turned the things I have to do into opportunities to be grateful and to trust that just as He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it whether or not I get the laundry put away anytime soon. 

How do you handle wanting to get things done and your frustrations when you aren't able to finish projects?  

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