Doing the most

I should have seen it coming. Inevitably, at the beginning of each semester, I reach a point where my thoughts go from, “I’ve got this, I’ve got this, I’ve got this” to “This is a lot, this is a lot, this is a lot.” My mom, because she knows me better than I know myself, inevitably sees this coming, be it an emotional phone call home or several missed phone calls, or the anxiety in my voice when we finally connect. So it was no surprise when this weekend, the weekend before classes begin, that phone call from home came and it included some of the following sentiments. 

It seems that within the past couple of days my to-do list has gotten longer and for every one thing I cross off, I add two or three more. Emails are already beginning to steadily stream into my inbox, my calendar is filling up with work, classes, and extra commitments. Now, living in a house with roommates, the concept of adulthood is real and upon us and my inner domestic goddess has been in full force as kitchens are cleaned, laundry is maintained, and four people are fed on a regular basis (by our standards). 

Just tonight as I scurried around the kitchen, one of my roommates looked up from where she was sitting and asked me what I’m like when I’m on vacation because I have a lot of energy and she’s just not sure if I know how to relax. At Brown University this summer we had a term for that: doing the most. Frequently, I looked the same at Brown as I’m sure I look now to my roommate Kristina. I would be at a meeting, then going to lunch with a student, then helping a group of students create something for their event that night. I spent the summer constantly in motion and I loved every second of it. 

Why do I do this, you ask? It seems silly, but I love people. And I love seeing that people are fulfilled, happy, satisfied, and confident. If I can help someone get to that place, then the energy I put forth to help them with the smallest of tasks was all worth it. 

I also seek opportunity. So having lunch with countless students, setting up meetings with professional staff, attending professional development opportunities that introduce me to new concepts and ideas — yes these things all take time and energy — but they create an opportunity to share knowledge, to build relationships, and to learn. They also ensure that I’m surrounded by people that are like me, that match my drive and go-go-go mentality. But in the middle of “doing the most,” what am I doing the least? What’s getting left out? Am I taking time to care for myself. Am I taking time to give thanks for the reason I’m able to do all that I am able to? And what’s more, am I including God in my quest to grow? At the end of the day, this is pivotal, and the truth these days is a reluctant “no.” 

But moving forward, I have to ask myself if I can sustain this energy without Him. The truth of the matter is that if I’m going to continue to move at my speed, to “do the most,” I’ve got to do the most I can to include God in the mix. I’ve got to maintain a relationship with the model of the life I’m trying to lead — a life of leadership, of relentless service, of kindness and compassion. In this quest to be the best I can be in all I do, I must also maintain a Spiritual relationship with the source of my energy. I must continue to question, to doubt, to seek answers in my faith life in order to be propelled forward in my everyday actions. If I’m not “doing the most” with Christ, how can I do the most for Him? 

As I move into my new semester, and we each transition into a new season of our lives (literally, as marked by the already-changing leaves here in the mid-Atlantic), I ask you to consider this, just as I am. I encourage you to allow Christ to “do the most” in your life so you can “do the most” for those around you.

Anchor columnist Renee Bernier graduated from Stonehill College and is a graduate student in the College Student Personnel Program at James Madison University in Harrison, Va.

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