I don’t know about you, but I often feel buried under the “have tos” in my life. As a working mom of four, there is always a long list of things that need to be done. For example, I have to clean my house. I have to go to the grocery store. I have to exercise, go to work today, and make dinner. I can very easily become a martyr to all that is on my plate. But what if I flipped my “have tos” to “get tos”? What if I shifted my perspective?
This mantra was recently introduced to me during one of my Peloton bike classes. When the instructor said it, she was referring to exercising. We were in the middle of sprinting a hard interval, and she reminded us that we don’t have to be on this bike ride, but that we chose to. It was timely when she said it because it was a hard ride, and I felt out of shape. I was sweating, annoyed, and mad that I was doing the workout.
However, I realized that nobody forced me to get out of bed early, put on workout clothes, and clip my shoes into the bike. It was my choice to spend my time and effort in this way. I realized that I was behaving like a martyr to my own choices.
Since then, I have begun to see how this applies to other areas in my life.
For example, my job. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a teacher. As a little girl, I can remember lining up my dolls along my bedroom wall and teaching them. I used a chalkboard, created a daily plan, and taught them how to read. I even coerced my little brother into being one of my students. I knew from childhood that I wanted to spend my days with little kids. And now I am. I teach fourth grade. My dream came true. I get to.
Of course, some days, it’s very easy for it to feel like I have to. Teaching days can be long. It requires a lot of patience, flexibility, and selflessness. There is no time to think about my own needs as layers of student needs are right before me. Constantly being needed can very much wear on anyone. If I allow myself to sit in my “have tos,” my job can become begrudging. I can become impatient and selfish.
However, if I flip my perspective and think about my get tos, I see that I get to work at an amazing Christian school where I get to talk about Jesus in everything I do. I get to spend my days helping kids feel seen, encouraging them, and guiding and instructing them. I get to be trusted by their parents to come alongside them and pour into their child. I get to be there for them when they get their feelings hurt, or they don’t understand something, or they make a new friend. I get to be a teacher.
Being a Mom Is Tiring—But I Get to Do It
There are other areas of our lives where we can apply the “get to” perspective. How about house cleaning? I can easily grumble about cleaning bathrooms, floors, and dusting. But, if I switch my perspective, I realize that I get to take care of the beautiful home that God has given me.
What about parenting? It’s easy to be overwhelmed by it. It is a high calling to serve, love, and admonish my children emotionally, spiritually, and physically. There is always something that I can be doing in each of these areas for my four children. It can easily feel like I have to. But I know that God has made me an ambassador for Him to my children. That I get to be here and walk through life with them. I get to teach them about right and wrong, provide for them physically when they need something, and emotionally when they need to talk. I get to watch them be molded into the men and woman that God made them to be. I get to pray for them. I get to see prayers answered.
Let’s Shift Our Perspective to See All We Get to Do
Phil Wickham‘s lyrics from the song “Battle Belongs” reflects this upside-down perspective. One of the lines says: “When all I see is the battle, you see my victory; when all I see is the mountains, you see the mountains moved.”
The “have to, get to” perspective can also be see in Scripture. God gives us opportunities to walk in whether they are hard or easy. He directs our paths and has already written the good works that He has for us to live out in His name (Ephesians 2:10).
What we can easily see as a battle, He looks ahead and sees the victory. He proclaimed an upside-down kingdom. When we see a mountain in front of us, He sees a mountain moved. He knows what’s next. Whether it be tomorrow, 10 years down the road, or something that we never see fruit from, the battle belongs to Him. So why not always see our “have tos” as “get tos”?
I encourage you today to take inventory. Make a list of your have tos. How can you turn them into get tos? Can you flip your perspective? How can you reframe the way you’re thinking about it? We aren’t martyrs. Most of what we do, most of the way that we spend our time, was chosen by us. We get to.
The way you see the events in your life is often a reflection of how you’re feeling about yourself. Here’s how you can flip your self-talk: