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  • Jan Thoreen Lewis

Making the Main Thing the Main Thing

In our family we chuckle over the old story of one little cousin furiously lisping, “You’re not the boss of me!” to his dad at one of our Christmas gatherings.  We thought it was hilarious at the time, and just so . . . wrong. Of course his dad was the boss of him, he was five!  Sheesh.

But what I’m learning with increasing clarity is that as an adult I don’t have a boss.  I get to call the shots in my life.  Well, there is that thing about God being my Boss, and ultimately, of course, that’s my chosen reality, but even He gives His children an immense amount of respect by trusting us with self-determination.  (It’s shocking and kind of scandalous really, but that’s another topic.)

Red Poppies of the Netherlands, 8″X 11″, unframed

So, what’s my point?  I’ve been living as if someone or something else is my boss.  Namely, my to-do list of chores and responsibilities, and I’ve let it bully me into submission.  Mornings spent chipping away at that list of phone calls, laundry, planning meals, cleaning, vacuuming, scrubbing, trips to the post office or grocery, answering to someone else’s schedule, blah, blah, blah.  We each have our own list, and these things do have to be done. But when do they have to be done?

With rare exceptions the things I write on my list (and I even do this in order to feel productive because, hey,  I GET TO CROSS THEM OFF) can all wait for my less creative, less energetic hours  after lunch. Being one of those annoying Morning Persons, I love to launch into any creative, visionary effort first thing.  If it wouldn’t inconvenience anyone else I’d probably be happily working away before the sun comes up.

I didn’t understand that what I do as an artist matters to the world.

Then why, oh why, have I let my little terrorist to-do list dominate me?  Because I didn’t understand that what I do as an artist matters to the world.  It’s taken brutal honesty with myself plus many conversations with God, but I’m finally catching on to the fact that if I don’t do what only I can do, it won’t get done.  Like, ever. A void will exist in this place and time that no one else can fill in the same way.  We’ve talked about this here before, but it’s worth a reminder that we each truly are unique in our generation and our location.

View from Melk Abbey, 18″x 24″, $800 unframed

The result is that I’ve reordered my days. Granted, I’m new at this, but so far it feels great.  I begin the day with anticipation and I end it with fulfillment, which, by the way, is a great way to ward off boredom, depression, naps, and the endless trips to the refrigerator just to see how it’s getting along without me.

Start each day with the Main Thing, and keep it there.

So this is what I’ve decided to do with this power of self-determination – start each day with the Main Thing, and keep it there.  When I’m tempted to veer off-course to take care of just one little chore, like watering some thirsty-looking flowers, I get to say No.  They can just wait their turn. I won’t abdicate my authority to little tyrants, but bring them in line with my larger picture – to order my days by using the gifts I’ve been given to show the world my version of the glory of God.

And maybe I’ll take a 5 minute break to give the flowers a drink.

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