I received a text asking if I could help someone with a school project. School projects are interesting. Either you’re making a volcano for a science fair, writing a book report, or occasionally you’re tasked with asking adults the world’s deepest questions. Today I was asked:
Wow. Where do you even begin with something like that? My adult brain had a lot of follow-up questions, and a few gut reactions:
- Flossing. I never seem to do it, and disappoint my dentist repeatedly.
- Waking up the first time the alarm clock goes off.
- Keeping track of my sunglasses, or real glasses, or keys…
What WAS your biggest challenge?
If you asked me, what was my biggest challenge, that implies it is something that is behind me. Something that happened but is no longer a challenge. It has been overcome. Exhibit A?
- My high school physics class.
- Learning to appreciate IPAs.
- Figuring out my “go to” holiday meal.
What IS (still) your biggest challenge?
If you ask me what is my biggest challenge… I can take that one of two ways.
(1) What is a brand new challenge specific to my life at this moment in time?
- Eliminating weeds. I am not good at landscaping. It shows.
- Understanding NFTs and Blockchain at a level I could easily explain to others.
- Remembering to bring reusable bags and a quarter to ALDI.
Or the second way I could take this question…
(2) What challenge have I faced for the majority of my life and it continues to be a problem I have yet to solve?
- I can’t say no to french fries. I have to finish all of them, no matter how many are in front of me.
- All of my emails are novels. Despite years of feedback, I fail to be concise and typically overwhelm my reader.
- I don’t drink enough water. Between coffee and beer, I am on an unintentional quest to dehydrate myself.
Yeah but what is it really?
Big, open-ended, philosophical questions can have a way of getting to the heart of you though, if you let them. So stripping away all of the “it depends” scenarios, what is the first thought that pops into my head when asked… what is my biggest challenge in life?
My challenge is that I live for lists and checkboxes that I never fully complete because there is always something else that could be done or should be done (or someone else thinks I should do). There is someone I should call more or text more or write more. Something I should put away or clean up or fix or make. A project I should start, finally finish, or follow up on. A class I should take, video I should watch, article I should read, certification I should get.
My challenge is that I worry what others think about me and whether they think I am doing enough or doing the right things. Whether they think I am capable, an expert, or a fraud. Whether I am kind enough, patient enough, paying enough attention to others and the world around me… in ways that matter.
My challenge is to remember that my value and worth come from God and nothing else. To know that I am not enough, and that doesn’t mean it’s a problem to be fixed or a challenge to overcome. I am not enough. And that’s okay, because none of us are enough. And we weren’t meant to be. We weren’t meant to fly the flag of uber independence that tosses everyone else to the wayside. We are not enough. We need each other. We need God.
So my real challenge.. the challenge under the challenge…
is to prioritize my time according to God’s to-do list. His checklist. His standards. Not the worlds. Or the media. Or the guilt trip. Or the self-help book, or article or video or person I’m comparing myself to… (or the person someone else wants me to be).
And His checklist is both simple and a challenge in and of itself. Simple because it’s short. A challenge because people are complicated and we are complicated.
Every day I should give my best to God and not get complacent about it. Never stop trying to give him my best, by his definition, not the worlds. Every moment is a new moment to try again. And because of Jesus I am gifted the chance to try again. I don’t have to pay for my mistakes for eternity. I can learn from them and try again.
I am human. That means there are times I will forget a birthday. I will miss a deadline. I will be selfish. I will not know the answer. Weeks will go by without contact. I will ruin a dinner. The plant will wilt. The email won’t get responded to. And I’ll probably eat too many french fries. But how I respond to those daily challenges matters more than the challenges themselves. Am I truthful? Do I apologize? Do I say no when I can’t meet the commitment?
My biggest challenge in life is remembering God in every moment. Big and little. And trying again. But not so that I can be enough, but because he is enough for me.
Now it’s your turn. In the comments answer this question all three ways.
- What used to be a challenge?
- What is a new challenge?
- What has always been a challenge.
Perhaps we can help her school project be the most thorough response in the history of the class.