Have you ever finished an impressive task or to-do list and then looked around at all the carnage in your wake?
By carnage, I mean hurt feelings, unkind words said out of stress or frustration, criticisms that were hardly constructive, and requests from your loved ones that were hastily denied in order to prevent distraction from the task at hand.
I admit it. I’m guilty. But I’m determined to stop the carnage.
Reaching a goal, finishing up a project or completing a to-do list is always nice, but when we fail to complete them with kindness and love, it tarnishes the feeling of victory at the end of day, doesn’t it?
Personally, it ruins everything for me. If love for others doesn’t fuel your efforts, you end the day feeling pretty low, no matter how much you got done.
Now that we’re on the road and taking on bigger goals for our family, there are more tasks – and different challenges – and I’m having to remind myself of this important rule:
If you don’t do something with love and kindness, you’ve just wasted your time, bucko.
It doesn’t matter how great it is – like climbing Mount Everest or becoming CEO of Starbucks. If there are crushed souls in your wake, you didn’t accomplish a darn thing.
It. Was. Meaningless.
Today I had a long to-do list. But I tried to remind myself that it’s not about cleaning out a shelf or sorting through clothes. It’s about doing those things with love. And a smile. And with many (many) pauses to listen to a story about a frog my 6-year-old spotted at the river, or to notice that someone needs a few words of encouragement while he’s tackling his own to-do list.
It means that no matter how stressful a moment might feel, I don’t let it define me and how I treat those around me. It doesn’t color my words with harshness. It doesn’t distract me from the Real Goal.
The Real Goal isn’t to get the dishes done or write a novel or get from Point A to Point B.
The Real Goal is to do the dishes and write a novel and get to your destination with grace and kindness. To do it with love.
Forget that one critical ingredient in your life, and all your successes will ring hollow.
There’s a passage in the Bible – you may have heard it read several hundred thousand times at weddings (and a handful of funerals) – which says it best:
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
For those of us on currently RVing fulltime, here’s another way of reading this verse:
If I am able to find the cheapest diesel on the interstate, stay in the best campgrounds for half-price, find all the neat things to see at every stop, trouble-shoot every broken item and fix it like a pro, make a ton of money at my tech-nomadic career, and educate my kids so well Harvard is sending flowers, but do not have love and end up yelling at my spouse, kids and random drivers merging onto the interstate who ARE OBVIOUSLY TEXTING AND NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO THE 25,000 POUND RV IN THE SLOW LANE ABOUT TO SMASH THEM INTO LITTLE BITS: I’ve completely wasted my efforts.
The message is pretty clear. There isn’t anything worth doing – or anything that will be considered great – if it misses this essential ingredient.
When you think about your life’s goals, your to-do list for tomorrow, or those piles of dishes that need to be done tonight, just try to remember what makes it all worthwhile.
And if you’ve already forgotten what that is, WAKE UP, YOU DUMMY!
Just kidding. I love you all. I do.
Your turn: What’s one thing you could do with a little more love?