Friday, April 8, 2011

The Myth - and the Truth - About Doing it All

by Jennifer AlLee

A few weeks ago, my husband and I saw the new movie, Limitless*. In it, Bradley Cooper plays Eddie, a scruffy writer with a looming book deadline, zero words written, and a serious case of writer's block. I could relate. At the time, I was staring down a deadline of my own, and even though I wasn't blocked, I really shouldn't have taken time out to see a movie. But it's so rare to find one that both my husband and I want to see... so there I was, trying not to feel guilty for enjoying myself.

Back to the movie... Through a chance meeting with an old friend, Eddie ends up with access to a drug that heightens his mental acuity. He is, as the saying goes, firing on all cylinders. The plot is full of twists and turns, so it won't give away anything to share this snippet of voiced-over narration: "I finished the book in three days." Oh, and his apartment was spotless and he has a complete makeover: from scruffy to studly in the blink of an eye.

I leaned over and whispered to my hubby, "I want some of that."

Sometimes, we want to do it all. Even worse, sometimes we truly believe we can do it all. So we try. And we try. We put everything we have into accomplishing all we set out to. And often, we fail. Maybe not at everything, but the fact that we failed at anything grates, so we beat ourselves up, then set new, just as improbable goals for domination of our personal world.

Can I get an Amen?

The plain fact is, we can't do it all. Not without help. In the movie, Eddie had a revolutionary new drug. In real life, we have something even better. Something with no side effects and no cost to us other than faith. We have this assurance from God:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

Of course, there's a caveat to that. Christ strengthens us, so he's not going to aid us in doing something that will weaken us. Have you ever wanted something with all your heart, but it wasn't happening? Have you pushed and pushed until finally, you made it happen, only to find out it wasn't at all how you thought it would be? Sometimes, those missed opportunities or failed attempts are God's way of protecting us.

I'm going through a situation right now that's got me twisted in knots. I wish there was some way I could fix it. I wish there was a pill I could take to make it all go away. But there's not. All I can do is hold on to the knowledge that, while I'm stressing over this snippet in time, God sees the entire picture. Not only will he get me through it, he'll make me stronger. All the time.

*Limitless is rated PG-13 for thematic material involving a drug, violence including disturbing images, sexuality and language.

JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her first novel, The Love of His Brother, was released by Five Star Publishers in November 2007. Her latest novel, The Pastor’s Wife, was released by Abingdon Press in February 2010. Her upcoming novel, The Mother Road, will be released by Abingdon Press in April 2012. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. - Jennifer's website - A safe haven for women living on the front lines of ministry.


  1. Love this, Jen. Amen!
    We can't do it "all", but we can do all things through Christ who Strengthens us. Keith Green sang "Nothing that we've done remains, only what we do for Him..."
    Prayers are with you for your situation.

  2. I don't want to do MORE I just need more time to do the same amount of stuff.
    Like I would love to keep editing but I need to go to work!

    Hurray, Jen's out of self-imposed writing exile. We've missed you and are so happy about 'completed manuscript' out the door!

  3. Boy howdy, does this hit me right where I live. I am so definitely struggling with this right now. I need to figure out a way to say it's okay if I don't get a 4.0 in my college classes. My world won't end if I get a B or even a C (Algebra anyone?). My job isn't dependent on a 4.0. So why do I continually put pressure on myself? Why is it a stab to my pride when I get 89% on a test instead of 99%? I need to let go of the pride and the self-imposed stress and really live that scripture and take my exams knowing Jesus will give me what I need - and that it just may not be straight A's. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me!

    Thanks Jen, for the reminder.

  4. Oh, Jen. I gave up on trying to do it all long ago. If I can even do one lasting thing a year for the kingdom of God, I'm pretty content.

  5. I can certainly relate, Jen. I'm going through a situation where I wish I could wave a magic wand or take a pill and make everything better. This morning I buried my head in my pillow and (finally) told God, "You have to handle this. Only You can handle it, anyway. So here You go."

    I've tried to grab the problem back three times already, by the way. :-)

    By the way, I applaud you for seeing a movie with your husband. Your brain needs breaks, and I hope you and your hubby had a fun time together!

  6. Dina, that's a great attitude. I have finally learned it's okay to say "no" but I still expect a lot out of myself.

    Suzie, I can't even imagine having to tackle college Algebra again! You are amazing, and you're right, the world won't end if you get less than an A. Like I tell my son, the important thing is that you do your best. And sometimes, your best might be a B.

    Deb, thanks for the Welcome! It's great to be back. And so far, it looks like the manuscript is pleasing my agent and editor. Happy days!

    Cheryl, love the line from the Keith Green song. He's a great example of what we do for the Lord remaining. And thanks for the prayers. I greatly appreciate them :+}

  7. Thank you, Jen. And Cheryl, thank you for mentioning Keith Green. Now I have one of my favorite songs of his stuck in my head: Hold Me, Jesus. This is a great song to have in your head. :-)

  8. Oh, good post, Jen. You want to hear a story? ...

    This morning I was 'twisted in knots' as you said. Not because of any situation at home, but because my writing doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Yes, believe it or not, I suffered doubt this morning. Ahem.

    Then I got a call that had me happy dancing all over the living room. It wasn't from an agent, and it wasn't from an editor, but it was just the right amount of pressure patting me on the back to lift me out of my doldrums.

    Yes, God strengthens us. He strengthens me every time I flag and want to slow down. Yay, God!

    Anita Mae.

  9. Susie, I'm the same way! I hand stuff over to God, but before I know it, I'm stressing out over how to fix it again. It's a constant battle. (BTW, hubby and I had a great time at the movie. We ate dinner after and talked about the practical and moral applications of what we just saw. Lots of fun!)

    Anita, isn't it wonderful when God affirms your dream? Even when things aren't going the way we expect, it's so beautiful to get those nudges of encouragement. Keep at it, gal. The doors are going to open for you, and when they do... look out!

  10. Amen! Sock me right between the eyes, why don't you?! I was in need of a good poke. Muchos Gracias!

  11. Woo hoo! I knew I could count on Lisa for my Amen! Ya know, I'm socking myself between the eyes, too. Just because I know it in my head doesn't mean I've learned to live it. Every day is another step in the process :+}

  12. LOL. Hubby and I went to see this on Friday on our anniversary overnight (hence the reason I'm not commenting until now!). I said the same thing to mine: I want some of that!
    But then, do I really?


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