Saturday, June 2, 2012

i never knew procrastination felt so much like fear...

(My apologies to C.S. Lewis, who probably just rolled in his grave because of this title.)

So I noticed something about myself recently.  As I finished my semester and my summer break began, I was really looking forward to a few weeks of... well.. basically doing nothing. Thankfully, God said NO to that little deam of mine. :) Quickly after finishing school, all the new responsibilities and tasks for this summer and fall crashed onto the scene.  I was frustrated and felt like everyone and everything should just leave me alone.  I did spend some time just doing my own thing, not dealing with things that needed to be dealt with. But reality couldn't be ignored much longer, so I sat down and wrote a summer to-do list and started thinking about my goals for the next few months.            

I have a thing with to-do lists. You see, I love writing them, but then when it comes down to actually DOING the things on my list, it's like something inside me shuts down and I'm completely overwhelmed. So then I procrastinate like crazy until I finally get going on something.

I know what you're thinking - Sydney, just stop overwhelming yourself with long lists. Take it one task at a time. And to that I would say, 1. Have you been talking to my mother?, and 2. You're probably right. But in actuality,

1. I actually do need those lists in some form. I happen to be really busy and have a lot on my plate in this season of my life, and, even though I'm only 19, some days I feel about 90 when it comes to my memory and ability to juggle several responsibilities at once. I would seriously just forget that I need to do things if I didn't write them down. Writing things down is how I learn and process things, actually. I'm a crazy note-taker/journaler/get it all down on paper kind of person.

and 2. That wouldn't really be reaching the heart of the issue. Even if I stopped writing everything down and overwhelming myself with all the things I need to accomplish in x amount of time, I would still have to do those things. And I would still shy (or run) away from them. WHY?

Because I'm afraid.

I have found that, more often then not, when I procrastinate, it's not due to laziness. It's due to fear.

Granted, I'm still very lazy sometimes. But I would say 80 to 90% of the time, the root of the problem is not my laziness. I mean, I write the to-do lists. I lay out my goals. I WANT to accomplish them. I WANT to get things done. But then I stop. WHY? Because, at the root of it all, I'm afraid and anxious. I'm afraid of what people will think. I'm anxious about someone's response. I'm afraid that I'll mess things up. I'm worried that my efforts won't be good enough. So I procrastinate. I put things off. I do things LATER.

Can I just stop for a second and encourage you to not do this? When you hear yourself inside your head going, "Oh, I'll just do that later," ask yourself why. Ask yourself if there's really any good reason to put it off. I mean, there might be. Maybe it's late and you should go to bed and do it in the morning. Maybe there's something else that needs to get done first. To that I say, go ahead, rest and prioritize - but don't procrastinate. If you find that in all honesty it is something you can do now, DO IT NOW. The longer you wait now, the more consequences you will face later. I experienced this in a small way yesterday. I finally did something on my list that I had been avoiding for a week or two. I would feel silly telling you guys how minute this thing that I needed to do was. It was seriously so not a big deal. But I was afraid of doing it, nonetheless. And don't you know, it went FINE. After I did it I thought, Wow, this would have been so much easier had I just DONE IT a few days ago. Ask youself if the reason you're putting something off is because you're afraid. And then ask yourself, Will doing this later make me any less afraid of/anxious about it? Truthfully, I have found that doing something later will NOT, in fact, deal with the fear in our hearts.  But going to Jesus and asking for help will.

This is some of what Jesus had to say about anxiousness:

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life...which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?... seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness...."
(Matthew 6:25, 27, 33)

Now, I know these verses in their context are more about being anxious about whether or not God will meet our needs (which, by the way, He will) and less about fear of people and how your efforts will pan out. But I think it does apply to what I'm talking about, as well. Jesus said, Don't be anxious. It's not going to do you any good. I'm pretty sure when Jesus said "Do not be anxious about your life," I think He meant that to apply to your WHOLE life. And that includes the anxiety we have about our capabilities as human beings, how people view us, etc. And, shouldn't we listen? I mean, The Creator of the universe says, Hey, stop worrying. I've got you covered. Yet I'm still sitting here going, WHAT IF I FAAAIIILLL?  Seriously? Maybe if I tried seeking His kingdom...

And what about Joshua 1:9? We ALL know THAT verse, right?

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go,"

I have read and sung this verse many times, but have I ever really obeyed this command of God? Do I really believe that God will be with me wherever I go, whatever I do? He says right there in Joshua that He will be.

And let's be real for a second - Joshua was not about to sit down and write a research paper. Joshua was not about to tackle his messy bedroom. No, Joshua was about to march into Jericho and take the land. Because God told him to. Feel different about your to-do list now?

Okay, here's the deal: Before we can stop fearing and feeling anxious, we actually have to start doing something else. And that is TRUST GOD.

Fear comes from not trusting God. If I trusted God with my life, I wouldn't have such a hard time praying about my future and making hard decisions, because I would know and trust that God is sovereign over all things, AND He is FOR me, and has great plans that are beyond my comprehension, waiting for me.  If I trusted God with my life, I would sit down and write that paper, because I would know, in the end, it's about pleasing Him, not my professor. If I trusted God with my life, I would stop being anxious and start DOING the things He's called me to do. Why? Because I would know that He WILL come through for me. He always has, and He always will.

So, let us not be anxious, but rather let us trust in our great God, who loves us, and is constantly working out all things for our good (Romans 8:28).  Stop living in fear and start seeking God. Then you'll be equipped to courageously do what God has called you to do today.

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