Monday, November 28, 2005

Maybe I Should Have Started Sooner

This sentence is taped to my computer: “Hard work is often the easy work you did not do at the proper time.”

Do certain things keep being pushed to the bottom of your list of things to do? Last year at this time, I was caught in a scheduling snafu, and so things like “shop for kids’ gifts” and “address Christmas cards” and “wrap presents” kept getting dropped to the bottom of the list. In November those would have been fun activities to do. In years past I would light candles, put on one of my dozen Christmas movies, and have a special treat (defined chocolate) after finishing a holiday task. It’s easy—when done at the proper time.

But last year when I finally got around to buying, decorating, and wrapping, it was after December 15. The stores were a nightmare of frenzied shoppers, my hands got cramped doing cards for hours (no time to rest—hurry, hurry!), and wrapping gifts was a marathon culminating in the worst backache I’d had in years. Not done at the proper time, this “easy work” that was a joy had definitely become hard work.

This certainly applies to more than Christmas, and it’s true year-round. The dishes done at the proper time (right after they’re used) are easy; a five days’ accumulation, with gunky food cemented to the dishes, is hard work. Losing the three holiday pounds right after Thanksgiving isn’t too bad; waiting to get it off till you’ve added six more at Christmas and New Year’s will be hard.

So often when I’m struggling through a particular project, I will notice that sentence taped to my computer. I stop and ask, “Lord, is this some easy work the Holy Spirit prompted me to do a while back?” Quite often, it is. If I had tackled it when prompted the first time, it could have been accomplished in several easy stages. I could have scheduled the completion of the project with plenty of wiggle room. By waiting too long, the easy work had become hard. I am most often my own worst enemy.

Take a look at your life. Yes, teens are just as guilty of this phenomena as we adults. The projects may be different, but procrastination will have the same results. Make a list of upcoming events, projects due, even the fun things (like going to prom or on vacation.) Then back track and see how soon you need to begin preparing in order for the work to be easy. Done at the last frantic moment, it’s stressful and no fun. (e.g. Imagine hunting down your prom dress two days before the event.) Done in a leisurely manner, though, the work can be easy and enjoyable!

Hmmm... I think I'll make this a New Year's Resolution...

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