By Julie Lazanich
I swear by planners, to-do lists, and sticky notes. I have tried Google Calendars and all the new apps, but nothing comes close to pen and paper. There’s something relieving about crossing off tasks, that sliding motion of a pen on paper that conjures up a strong sense of accomplishment.
Some mornings l wake up already knowing what needs to be done and I'm confident that nothing can stop me.
Yet, other days it seems I am too busy to sit down for even a few moments to prioritize. I bustle through the day, just going through the motions without any sense of purpose.
Then there are days when basic tasks clutter my list that are blatantly obvious to-do’s. Take a shower. Open my emails. Make coffee. Those days I might as well add get out of bed to the list, because some days that’s the hardest task of all.
Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after being assaulted is like being stuck in a wave pool.
Except it’s not at an amusement park, you’re not with your friends, and the sun isn’t shining. It’s a constant struggle to keep your head above the waves, where you’re constantly being tossed about, not knowing whether there will be a moment for you to catch your breath.
There are moments of relief. The waves stop for a bit and you can sense the calm. You are capable of living a normal life and you can find joy in it. But you live in constant fear, never knowing when a storm is going to stir and the waves are going to start crashing all over you again.
I’ll admit, my planner is bulging with sticky notes and spilling out obsessive to-do lists, but it provides me a type of comfort.
A routine to mark my days with, where there is no time for storms and I cannot be distracted by the waves. I like schedules and plans because then there isn’t room for the fear and anxiety associated with PTSD to creep in. I run from activity to activity, sometimes to the point of burnout just to keep myself from getting caught up in any unforeseen waves.
I find that I’m a lot like Martha in today’s Gospel reading according to Luke. The "busy-body," "do-gooder" who complains to God about being so burdened. There isn’t enough time in the day and there aren’t enough people around to help out. When Martha starts her rant, I actually could think of times when I said the same whiny prayer,
“Lord, do you not care…” This seems to be the story of my prayer life over the past year.
Don’t you care that I experienced such a traumatic event? Don’t you care that I’m still haunted by it? Don’t you care that I’m a single mom because of it?
God’s response? Of course, not the coddling and I’ll admit maybe even pity I wanted, but rather a simple and straightforward answer. While in the Gospel He’s addressing Martha, I know he’s addressing me. Julie, He says, you are anxious and worried about many things. But there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.
His response isn’t to slight Martha or me. He isn’t starting a compare snare between two sisters. He’s telling me that I am choosing to focus on all these things. The tasks that fill up my planner. The complaints that consume me. My worries and anxieties associated with PTSD.
I am choosing those things instead of choosing the one necessary thing. Listening to God’s peaceful voice in the midst of everything.
A God who can calm any storm and stop any wave.
The Living Person challenge of #lessismore this month echoes today’s Gospel. I need to declutter my life of the tasks and the anxieties that keep me from growing in my relationship with God. As hard as it is to drop what I’m doing, I need to be like Mary and sit at the feet of Jesus and listen.
Not with a planner in hand, but with an open heart and mind ready to live more fully in the ways He is calling me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie is a recent grad of John Carroll University and has just started a research position at Jones Day law firm downtown. Aside from working 9-5, she spends her time with those that make her laugh most, especially her almost one year old, Carter James. Julie enjoys making sure others know how much they're loved and is always trying to spread God's gift of joy around. This may often include wine, sunshine, tacos, hot dogs, and replays of Lebron's legendary Game 7 block.