a “yot” for one day
I was having dinner with a friend a few weeks ago. He’s a delight to be with and a wonderful conversationalist. I should also mention he is 3 ½ . Between bites of bagel pizza and raisins, he asked me what I’d done at work that day and what I’d done at home before coming to his house. I answered briefly and then asked about his day. Periodically interjecting reminders for him to take another bite of his dinner, I listened as his animated little voice told me all about his morning at preschool: the yucky weather and why they hadn’t played outside, the Fancy Nancy story his teacher read, and the art project he had made.
As he was finishing up his last bites, he asked me “What you do tomorrow?” I didn’t assume the grown-up activities of working and going to grad school would be of much interest to a preschooler, so I told him I’d go to work again. But he wanted more details and was persistent in his line of questioning. “What you do before that? Then what?” He kept peppering me with questions until we had covered my morning walk, going to work, doing homework, making dinner, doing the dishes, starting some laundry, reading, and going to bed. I thought for sure my boring details would have exhausted his inquisitiveness, but he followed up one more time with “What next?”
I’ll wake up and do it all over again?!?!
He looked up at me wide-eyed and said “Wow! That’s a YOT for one day!” and nodded his head vigorously. He seemed to be waiting for me to agree with him, so finally I did. “Yeah, buddy, it is a lot.”
It struck me how obvious it was to a preschooler that my days are really full. And how reluctant I am to acknowledge that myself. I’m the one who chose to go back to school, so it’s kinda my own fault. And I’m the one who hasn’t yet figured out how to do work and school in a way that doesn’t leave me tired and overwhelmed much of the time. I’m not convinced a way like that even exists.
At day’s end, I often find myself assessing progress on my (never-ending) to-do list. Did I get enough done that I’m allowed to be tired and go to bed? Was I productive enough today so that tomorrow can somehow feel more manageable?
But these questions never have satisfying answers. Because there is always more to do. And it rarely feels like I have what is needed for what is ahead.
But in the moments when I stop doing long enough to get quiet before God, I hear different questions entirely:
- How long will you keep trying to outrun your limitations?
- How long will you treat rest as something to be earned rather than a gift given?
- How long will you resist the truth that you are not what you do?
These are pointed questions. But they are not harsh. I hear in them an invitation for my weary soul. I hear echoes of Jesus’ words from the Gospels:
“Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…” (Matthew 11:28)
“Do not worry about tomorrow…each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.” (John 14:1)
I’m being invited to lay aside my productivity and attempts at control. I’m reminded (again) that it is not in my competence, but in my neediness that Jesus meets me. And my tiredness, anxieties, and being overwhelmed certainly expose my need…
That need is nudging me towards God. It is beautiful and it is hard. It is humbling to admit how often I forget who God is and who I am. It is daily that I must release my desire for ease and the false belief that I can manage my own life. And It is also daily that I get to experience more of God…our God who offers strength in weakness, presence in loneliness, and shelter in insecurity and unsettledness.
When I reflect back on the dinner conversation over pizza bagels, I hope I will always remember the sound of his sweet voice using Ys for Ls. And I hope that in the moments when life feels like “a yot,” I will remember that God welcomes me in my neediness and invites me to rest.
Becky Lehman is a lover of people, everyday adventures, and building community wherever she is. After 16 years filled with 7 jobs and 9 apartments in 4 East Coast cities, she is happy to call Richmond home. She enjoys being outdoors, cooking and grilling for anyone who’d like to be at the table, arranging flowers, and writing at beckslehman.wordpress.com.