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You’ll never finish

And that’s okay. It’s to be expected, actually. C.S. Lewis wrote,

“The second enemy is frustration–the feeling that we shall not have time to finish. If I say to you that no one has time to finish, that the longest human life leaves a man, in any branch of learning, a beginner, I shall seem to you to be saying something quite academic and theoretical. You would be surprised if you knew how soon one begins to feel the shortness of the tether, of how many things, even in middle life, we have to say “No time for that,” “Too late now,” and “Not for me.” But Nature herself forbids you to share that experience. A more Christian attitude, which can be attained at any age, is that of leaving futurity in God’s hands. We may as well, for God will certainly retain it whether we leave it to Him or not. Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment “as to the Lord.” It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.”

From “Learning in War-Time” in The Weight of Glory

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He was writing specifically about the work of a scholar’s work in wartime. But like a lot of his writings, I find this oddly relevant to my life — a non-scholar in a peaceful environment.  The tyranny of the to-do list, the bucket list, and “ought to” list is common to many people in many circumstances.

Right now, I’m  finally getting the deep down, soul knowledge that my brain already knew: there are too many “good opportunities” available, and we can’t take advantage of them all. There will always be more to learn, I could always do more, and do it better. Except I can’t. I am finite. My time is limited, and, in order for me to do the work that I have been given to do, I have to turn away from some amazing opportunities. Furthermore, it’s okay for someone in seemingly identical circumstances to have different priorities and a different calling. I have to be careful to not try to justify our choices to others because too often I find myself either second guessing our decisions or judging someone for making different choices. The only thing we all have in common is the gift of today and the grace for the moment.

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