Monday, July 31, 2017

Doing the Impossible

Several months ago, I picked up a notepad in the dollar bins at Target. Small, green and chunky, it's emblazoned with the heading, "DO THE IMPOSSIBLE."

Initially, I took this as a challenge, deriving great satisfaction from checking off the items I wrote on its black lines. Some were easy, some were challenging and few, by themselves, were impossible. Together, however, the list seemed a bit over the top some days, yet I took pride in conquering it.

Lately, though, I've begun to look at the heading as a warning. Why would anyone want to do the impossible on a daily basis? Isn't that unnecessarily stressful, not to mention exhausting?

For as long as I can remember, I've prided myself on finding solutions to perplexing problems (provided they're not math problems -- I know my limits) and not shying away from a challenge. As as a school counselor, I was the solver. As a mom, I'm the finder and fixer. As a Christian, I believe nothing is impossible with God.

But does God really want us to single-handedly accomplish the impossible on a regular basis? And when we do, is it really one person's accomplishment?

When I worked as a school counselor, I was always part of a team. One person's strengths enhanced another person's weaknesses and, as a unit, we did incredible things for kids on a pretty regular basis. More and more, I find myself wondering if that's how we're supposed to approach life.

I'm not looking to lower my standards, mind you -- just keep my perfectionism in check. And I love my little notepad, but I wonder if I should look at its heading more as a cautionary tale than a daily challenge. When things feel impossible, my green notepad is a great place to write them down and, perhaps, a great way to remind myself that if it feels impossible, perhaps I shouldn't try to do it all at once. Life hands us enough challenges, after all. Why make doing the impossible one of them?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not giving up on chasing my dreams, nor am I planning to run from challenges; my genes and my Jersey roots are a fearsome combination that make challenge-chasing a way of life.

But maybe it's time to insert a little wisdom into the equation. To strive for a little balance. (See, Mr. Avery, I was listening in algebra class!) I don't have to tackle every impossible task. In fact, in order to ensure that I have the energy to chase the challenges that matter, the ones that don't mean as much need to fall away. The dreams and and the goals, no matter how impossible they may seem, need to stay on the list, but the rest of it -- the "shoulds" and the "he said/she said" items -- need to be crossed off the list. Or at least relegated to the bottom.

Anyone who buys a notepad that says, "DO THE IMPOSSIBLE" is pretty much a dream chaser. But life is too short to chase dreams that don't matter.

And it's definitely too short to do so all alone.

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