Something to Ask Ourselves...

As I was out of town over the last couple of weeks, I was challenged by something that I want to pass along to you.

As women, in this increasingly competitive, success-driven, comparative world, we are often tempted to measure ourselves by what we DO. Whether single or married, with or without kids, in a career or not, or in whatever hobbies we choose, we often measure the relative success or failure of a day, week, or even year by what we have DONE, and what we have accomplished. Even among stay-at-home-moms, there are often "levels" of success that we may feel compelled to live up to.

A few examples:
  • "I got three loads of laundry done today while chasing after my toddler! Well done, mama!"
  • "I finished the report that the boss needs for next week."
  • "I made it through a whole week cooking for my family without falling back on fast food."
  • "I exercised 3 days this week."
  • "I beautifully scrapbooked my child's first eightteen months of life."
  • "I read through the Bible this year."
  • and on and on and on...
We can sometimes tend to measure how well our days, weeks, or years go (and by extension, judge ourselves) by what we do.

But here's the thing that challenged me, that I hope will challenge you as well:

Instead of asking ourselves, "what am I going to DO today?",
we should be asking, "who am I going to
BE today?"

And set our goals accordingly!

For example:
  • I'm going to be a respectful and happy wife to my husband.
  • I'm going to be a woman who meditates on the Word of God daily.
  • I'm going to be a responsive and affectionate mother for my child(ren).
  • I'm going to be a diligent student.
  • I'm going to be a woman who offers grace instead of judgment to the people around me.
  • I'm going to work efficiently (as unto the Lord) on what needs to be done at work/home today.
  • I'm going to be a woman of prayer, lifting up concerns throughout the day to God.
  • and on and on and on.

Does this shift in thinking help you as much as it helps me? I hope so! It helps me to think of the kind of character I want to have (which will then translate into the actions I choose), rather than focusing on the actions themselves. And of course, none of it is possible on our own. We can't "muster up" a gracious spirit or a responsive attitude, at least not consistently. But we CAN be any and all of these things when we are prayerfully submitted to God as women.

Let me know what you think, and if this new question/way to evaluate ourselves is helpful for you.


Anonymous said...

Ouch! That laundry one hit home! Great reminder Jess! :)

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for this post. I am a SAHM and it is hard to not get caught up in what I have accomplished during the day.

I really think it SHOULD be a matter of the heart. And I will approach today with a new outlook and focus on how my day can glorify God and I can reflect God's grace and mercy on my family.

Thank you,

Steph VG said...

Hey! Glad to see you back!

I've been thinking about this very thing recently. I'm a SAH wife with many responsibilities as, basically, a secretary for my pastor-husband. I also head the women's ministry at church. Those two things combined actually add up to almost a full-time job, and I've consistently had trouble with balance in terms of what I get done between church and home. When we first married, I was an admin. asst. at an engineering firm, and my bonus schedule was based entirely on what I got done - not who I was. I just realized (2.5 years after leaving the corporate world) that I'm still operating that way - I still "go to work" every day; it's just that my office is right across the hall from my bedroom. I viewed any household tasks as getting in the way of true productivity - I just didn't know it! So that's strike one.

But then I also realized that I'm focusing so much on what I get done that I'm not dealing with character issues (ahem - sin issues) as they come up...and they do certainly come up. I teach the women that what we do isn't nearly as important as who we are - God, after all, is more concerned with what He's doing in us than what He's doing through us. But then I forget to apply it to myself. I haven't been practicing what I teach!

So, good reminder. Now I just have to remember it! :-)

PS: I read your post on my reader, but then when I came here, I couldn't read it - there's no background other than the brown - which is really lovely, by the way. Don't know if I mentioned that I love the re-design, too. Anyway, just thought I'd let you know! :-)

Jess said...

I noticed the same thing about the background color. I've fiddled with it in both html and the simple template change widget... neither is working. I'm thinking this must be a blogger problem. If it's not resolved in a day or two, well then I'll just have to hike up my sleeves and figure out how to do something about it.

(As I'm no computer-tech, I'm really hoping blogger will do it!). :)

Thanks for your other comments too- I really think it's an easy trap for us to fall into in this "success" driven society.


Kim said...

I am glad someone else mentioned the background...

Hey! I missed you! I love that picture - look at your tiny belly! (You know I love a good Jess Belly Shot!)

I think this is SUCH a good lesson and I am so thankful to you for putting it out there! We can measure our lives by what we do - and we will ALWAYS fall short - or we can measure it by who we are, and rest on God's grace.

I am taking that with me today...thanks friend!

Jess said...

Heh heh, Kim, are you vying for best-friend-ship or something?

Telling a 7-month pregnant woman that her belly looks small is a good way to get there!

So glad this was encouraging to you.

The Chatty Housewife- said...

What a great point. I copied down your list because I thought it was great. We really do need to change the way we think.

The only way I could read your blog was to highlight it. The typing is the same color as the background for me. I hope blogger gets everything sorted out for you!

sharyn said...

So well-timed, as with the beginning of the year I am sorely tempted to set out the Big List of To-Dos. I have fallen prey to the "I had a good day because I got all the laundry done and put away" and then its dangerous opposite "I had a bad day because I didn't get what I wanted to done ..." when so often I could have looked at the day as a success because what was occupying my time was my boys!

So glad to see you back -- I missed your postings and I adore your new family picture. It just radiates abundance and blessings of family.

HisBeloved said...

Thank you for sharing your insight. It is more important for us to focus on who we are and who we are in, than on what much we do. Amen!!!

helpmeetintraining said...

What a wonderful post! I love your site.

I wanted to let you know that I linked to your site on mine: . Don't feel like you have to add me - but I wanted you to know :)

Kim & Dave said...

Very helpful, Jess!

:..Rebekah..: said...

Jess, I don't struggle with remembering that it's important to BE instead of do, but I do struggle with the guilt of not BEing who I should in the same that women feel guilt and condemnation over not DOing what they think they should. Guilt does horrible things to the spirit, and I'm trying to get a better grasp of God's grace in my weakness. This is a great post and reminder of how to stay focused on our God-given purpose.

Terry said...

We Type A wives/moms need these gentle reminders from time to time, so thank you. It's good to have you back. You look great, by the way. Hope you're feeling well. You're in the home stretch!

Anna said...

Hi, beautiful picture of you guys. Your profile says "turkey", is that where that is? How is it traveling with kids anyway?

Jess said...

Hi Anna,
Yeah- that picture was down on the southern coast of Turkey- SO beautiful... the landscape is phenomenally pretty.

Traveling with kids actually isn't all that difficult if you're prepared. We go with one carry on full of fun stuff (books, cars, colors, a doodle pro etc) for the kids to do while on the plane, and have a separate bag with lots of good snacks and water. So it's actually not all that difficult.

The worst part is all the security measures-- getting little ones out of the stroller, putting all the bags through the machine while trying to keep up with the kids and the bags. But the actual travel part is a breeze. We're old pros at it by now-- we've literally gone around the world in the last two years to all kinds of places, so it's not extra difficult for us.

But like I said, the main thing is that we go prepared, with distractions and snacks. :)


freshfloralart said...

Thanks for this reminder. I am a type A and I fall into the mind set that god has something powerful, amazing, exciting planned for my life today, this week this year. When in reality the powerful, amazing, exciting thing is usually reading to my kids, doing dishes, spending time with my spouse. I have to keep my eye on the season of life I am in right now before it's gone.

Catherine said...

Oh Jess,
This is just what I have been struggling with for the last several years! I must be a slow learner. Our culture has us so sensitized into doing. Spending 12 years of higher education becoming a physician and then being in the workforce for 10 years just reinforced these pathological beliefs.

My counselor likes to remind me that we are "human beings" NOT "human doings".

Thanks for the encouraging post as we journey closer to the heart of God.



maria said...

Thank you so much for the post! I has really helped me!

Rootin' Tutens said...

Excellent challenge. Thank you so much for your candor and encouragement. Even if we are doing "good" things, leading worship, home schooling our children, leading choirs at church, teaching younger women, it still can be measured wrong. God will give us what we need to do what He wants us to do. My mentor Donna Otto has given me many Otto Mottos, one is the measure of how much I'm doing, priorities. I ask myself 2 questions:
Can anyone else DO it?
How does it effect my family?
That's just the 'doing' stuff. But 'being' His child, knowing His Word and resting in Him through the day should take priority over what we DO for His kingdom.
Amen. Thanks for reminding me today.
In Him,
Susan from AZ

Kelly said...

Wow, great point. I too, being a type A mom, get caught up in doing things. My hubby is away on business this week and all this morning I've been writing a list of things to do! Yikes, that's really not good. I've done that in the past and all it gets me is exhausted.
I do need to focus on who I'm going to BE each day. I need to write that down somewhere where I can see it first thing in the morning.