Lenten Pitfall #4 – Trying to Do Too Much!

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“Tend to undertake too much, then somehow get it done.” That is one of the traits of the Meyers Briggs INFP personality.

“Yes!” I say every time I read this. “That’s me!” I over-extend myself, take on more than is reasonably possible, then get it done. I take pride in this. But then comes the next line, “Friendly but often too absorbed in what they are doing to be sociable.” That’s me as well. I’m not a social butterfly, flitting from one event to another. I get lost in what I am doing, and if anyone gets in my way, watch out.

As with all of our strengths, there is a weakness associated with it. I’m good at getting a job done, but in the process I can be considered unfriendly, anti-social. I’m not either, I’m just focused! 🙂

Another aspect of this is that I can get over-tired from fulfilling all of my self-imposed expectations, leaving me cranky and with little energy for social interactions.

Recently I watched an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” on TV where Sheldon was “in the zone.” He was intently working and refused to speak to anyone around him. The end product of all of his efforts was a formula for a new heavy element. He published his findings and some scientists in China found his element. However, Sheldon discovered a significant error in his mathematical equation that invalidated his conclusions.

While I’m not as bad as Sheldon, I can relate to being in the zone, working hard and ignoring others in the process, and later discovering that all of my efforts were in vain.

Sometimes this can carry over into our observance of Lent. I may want to spend an extra hour in prayer, attend additional services as well as help out at a soup kitchen. I may be “in the zone,” as I rush from one activity to another, however, if I neglect other responsibilities or get tired and cranky because I’m overdoing it, I have to ask myself, “Who am I doing this for? Myself or God?”

Trying to do too much sets us up for failure. I learned a long time ago not to add too much into an already crowded schedule. Better to add one thing and do it well. Or better yet, subtract something that maybe isn’t as necessary to our live as we think it is, like watching TV.

Life can be hard; it has a way of throwing challenges into our paths. I try to leave a little space in my life for all of those crises that show up now and then. I may envision a Lent of prayer and quiet reflection only to be thrown into a Lent of caring for another through a time of illness or hurt.

Do I ignore the needs of family and friends in order to have the quiet prayer time I imagined at the beginning of Lent?

Do I get the Lent that I want, or the one God wants for me? God has a way of knowing just what I need to grow spiritually.

Sometimes, the best thing to do during Lent is to let go of all of your preconceptions and expectations in order to let Lent be Lent—a time of spiritual growth, led by God, not you.

What about you? Are you piling expectations upon yourself that are not from God? Can you let go of these?

 

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