Monday, January 4, 2010

Duty Bound

When I was a senior in high school, I went to Girls' State.  It was a great, fun experience.  I still remember a song that we learned there, and this quote which we repeated everyday in our assembly:

"I am only one, but I am one.
I can't do everything, but I can do some things.
What I can do, I ought to do.
And what I ought to do, with the help of the Lord, I will do."

I just researched this quote and it is from Edward Everett Hale.  There seem to be several variations to the quote, so I'm not sure exactly what he actually said, but this was the way it was presented to us at Girls' State.

Why do I share this interesting bit of info?  Well, it seems that I have kind of tried to use this as my motto in life - not on purpose - this is just kind of the way I naturally am.  There are some parts of the quote which are great - like the first two lines.  No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.  The third line is what has gotten me in over my head at times: 

"What I can do, I ought to do."  

I don't agree with that.  Just because you are able to do something doesn't mean you should do it.  Of course, that makes sense when you apply it to bad things like "I am able to buy and use drugs, so I should do it."  Everyone knows that is not right.  But what about applying it to good things?  "I am able to visit every sick person in my church once a week, so I should do it."  You can fill in the blank with any good activity.  

There have been so many things that I have done over the years because I said to myself "I can do that".  Since I was able to do it, I gave it a try.  So many little jobs that I am embarrassed to list them all here.  I'm not saying that in hindsight I shouldn't have done any of them.  But I do wish I had been a little more selective with my time and used it for things that I really felt called to do or led by God to do, or even things that I wanted to do.

I think lots of us women go by this way of thinking:  I will do everything I should do first, and then when that is all done, I will do what I want to do.  The problem with that is, in my case, with 6 kids and a job as a missionary and a house to keep clean and meals to make, etc.  the "should do" things are never, ever done.  So when do I get to do what I want to do - what makes me happy inside and is fun for me?  Hardly ever.

I have decided to change that starting this year.  I am through making never-ending lists of things that I need to do.  I am going to set reasonable goals for myself and pray a lot before accepting new responsibilities.  And I am going to do fun things.  My oldest daughter goes to college this year.  I want to do some fun things with her, and with the other kids, and with my friends, too.

That's kind of one reason that I started this blog.  I don't really have time to keep up a blog and it is not one of the most important things in my life.  I don't have tons of deep wisdom to share with you all on the world wide web.  I just wanted to do it.  I may not do it for long, but for now it is fun.  

Like I said earlier, I'm not sure what E.E. Hale's exact quote was.  As I was looking it up, I came across this version which I like much better:

"I am only one, but I am one. 
I can't do everything, but I can do something.  
The something I ought to do, I can do.  And by the grace of God, I will."

A little more selective.  Find out what you really ought to do and do that.  Just that.

Now, off to have some fun!

1 comment:

  1. very good post, Benay! as far as I am concerned you have a lot of wisdom to share. you may or may not choose to use this blog as an outlet for your thoughts, but those of us who have read what you have posted so far are blessed by it. thank you for sharing what is important to you.