by Chelsea Sobolik
The freshness of a new year is alluring for most of us with its promise of a fresh start, an opportunity for a redo, and the hope that maybe, just maybe, this will be the year we finally tackle that goal we’ve always wanted to achieve.
But the newness quickly wears off and we’re left with reality. The Christmas decorations are packed away, the charm of the holidays is over, bills are due, and we return to our daily lives and work.
Many of our days feel achingly ordinary. We commute, write emails, send status updates, make dinner, clean, build friendships, change diapers… and we do it over and over. We all work in different capacities—some of us work inside the house raising little ones, others of us work remotely for an employer, and many of us juggle a combination of the two. As we return to “work as usual”—whatever that work might be—it might be tempting to gaze at the lives of other women and wonder how they seem to have it all together, while we constantly fail to measure up.
We envy the working mom, who seems to always have time to squeeze in a workout and have a healthy dinner on the table by 6 o’clock. We scroll social media and see women who’ve started their own companies and have the time and means to travel, and we wonder how it doesn’t all fall apart without them at the helm. Others seem to cheerfully maintain clean and tidy homes and never lose their patience with their children. Our hearts fill with longing for a more optimized and effective life than the ones we’re leading, and we make resolutions hoping to bridge that gap.
The question lying beneath those longings is this, “How can I make the most of this one life that I’ve been given?” We look for the secret sauce, the magic formula that’ll tell us the exact steps we need to take to achieve the life we want. But the Psalms teach us that there’s a better question—and a better prayer—to ask than how we can best optimize life.
The psalmist cries, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom ” (Psalm 90:12). His prayer for an attentive heart to the brevity of time is a prayer for wisdom, not a prayer for productivity.
Rather than solely focusing on productivity, for the sake of getting more done, we should focus more on seeking wisdom—yet wisdom doesn’t always make the history books.
There are countless women whose work history has not remembered. But the Lord saw and knew.
The question for us is: is that enough? Isaiah 49:16 reminds us that we are engraved on the palms of God’s hands. God sees and knows His children. Because we are known and loved by God, we are free to joyfully commit to the people and places the Lord has called us to.
We can trust that the work we do matters to God and to others, even if we never see the impact of our work this side of eternity. Our work doesn’t have to be flashy or even acknowledged by others to have an impact on the world around us. Our quiet acts of love and service, done for God’s glory, will have reverberations throughout eternity.
In God’s eyes, success is faithfully following Him, wherever He calls. This frees us up from feeling like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. We are free to follow God in the ways that He calls us.
Sister, wherever you find yourself, I want to remind you that the Lord sees you and loves you. It might feel like you’re working in obscurity, or that your work doesn’t matter. But as God’s child, you are never alone in your work.
The Lord has promised never to leave or forsake you, no matter how challenging and overwhelming life feels. May we be women who live deep, purposeful and intentional lives. May we be women who strive to faithfully steward our time, talent, and attention well. May we have margin for the meaningful moments of life. May we devote ourselves to glorifying the Lord and loving His people. May we grow into Godly women. May we work hard in advancing God’s kingdom, the common good and the flourishing of others. If our resolution this year is to be women who work for God’s glory and in His strength, our labor will always be worthwhile (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Chelsea Patterson Sobolik is the author of Longing for Motherhood; Holding Onto Hope in the Midst of Childlessness, and Called to Cultivate: A Gospel Vision for Women and Work. She works in Washington, D.C. as the Director of Government Relations at World Relief. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband Michael and their son, Dev. Follow her on Twitter @Chelspat or on Instagram.