photo credit: Simon Howden
Four weeks ago I wrote this post about doing the "thing" I'm supposed to be doing. Which, I think, might be writing.
And in that same post I asked you to pray for me that I would have the discipline to write for two hours a day, five days a week for four weeks.
Several of you wrote to me to tell me that you were doing just that--praying. For me. Can I just tell you how humbling that is? And how accountable to you I have felt over the past weeks?
So now I'm here to report back. To give you an update on how I did and the progress, if any, I made.
I'll be honest. This was hard. Some days I did well, tackling my work with gusto, feeling really good about the progress I was making.
But that was in the beginning. And very shortly after that first week I started to feel like I was getting way, way behind on everything in my life. I had other work to do for an upcoming women's retreat that I'm doing in a couple of weeks, and I was really getting overwhelmed with it all.
So I had a long talk with B (who always sees things so rationally), and he helped me see that two hours a day of writing was two hours a day of writing that I wasn't doing before. It didn't matter if I was writing a book or a speech as long as I was writing.
From that point on, I started to feel a little better. I had to put the book project down for a while so that I could focus on the retreat stuff, but at least I felt like I was devoting myself to two hours of writing every day.
I won't lie to you--this has been hard. I have three kids still living at home. Three kids with active lives. And a husband with a demanding schedule. So someone has to hold things together, and that someone is me. I like my role; I'm not complaining. I'm just pointing out that two extra hours each day--ten hours a week--is not easy to find in my life.
But it's doable. And I have done it.
I've learned a lot over these past four weeks, which is maybe why God had me throw out that challenge to myself. It hasn't all been pretty, but here is some of what I've learned through this little experiment.
1. Time is a gift, use it wisely. Like I said, my time is not my own these days, so when I have time I need to use it the best that I can. These weeks have challenged me to not waste a minute, and when I have a minute I need to sit down and write.
2. My family is awesome. Well, O.K., I knew this before, but throughout this past month they have been amazingly supportive. "Mom, did you write today?" seemed to be the mantra around our house. Funny thing is, that never became a bother to me--it just spurred me on to be even more accountable because I knew my kids were paying attention.
3. It doesn't matter what I work on as long as I write. I felt so bogged down by working on one project at the beginning, but then felt much less burdened when I allowed myself to just work on the speeches. Besides, those were my top priority anyway.
4. When you're doing what you're supposed to be doing and people are praying for you, satan (little "s"--remember?) will try every trick in the book to divert your attention.
The end of last week is the best example I can think of. I rarely get headaches, but last week I think I had a headache every single day. I got grumpy and fidgety and fussy, and I didn't think I could get the work done. On Thursday I had carved out a couple of hours to work at the college library nearby, but as soon as I got started I got a crashing headache. After 30 minutes I just had to stop working because I couldn't look at my computer screen anymore.
I was bummed. It felt like an attack.
On Friday I got up and prayed that I would be able to really dig deep and get some work done. After having breakfast with one of my most encouraging friends, I came home and set myself into my best working spot in the house. I only had two hours until I had to get to the next thing on my list. Just two hours. And in those two hours I cranked out so much writing that I kept looking at the clock. Every five minutes seemed like an hour--I was putting so much down on paper (on screen?). It was surreal how much I got done in those two hours.
And Friday was my last day of my formal commitment to my praying friends. So weird. So much like God.
Finally, I want to say thank you to each one of you who committed to pray for me. Whatever that looked like for you--whether a one-time prayer or an every-day thing--it made a difference for me.
The biggest thing I got out of this little challenge? Maybe just a smidge more discipline than I had before. And that is probably the thing I needed the most.