Saturday marked 6 months since Chris and I got married. It’s common knowledge that after any newlywed couple gets home from their honeymoon they are faced with writing thank you notes for all the generous wedding gifts they received.

I was determined not to succumb to months of endless note writing, despite the fact that I am a skilled procrastinator, so I ordered our thank you note stationery the same day we ordered our wedding invitations. I even bought two new pens and the little white rose stamps so we’d be ready to hit the ground running when we got home from Hawaii.

What a joke! The box of note cards sat on our dining room table untouched the entire month of September and much of October. Well, actually that’s not true. We moved the box onto the sideboard every time we needed space to eat and then we’d put it back on the table as soon as we cleared our dishes. Certainly seeing the box every day would remind us of the task at hand and motivate me to put pen to paper, right? Well, this worked for Chris at least. We had split the thank you list in half shortly after our wedding and Chris blew right through his notes without much stress at all. Not me. I spent precious time and energy on a daily basis carrying the weight of this task around consuming me with guilt, when all I needed to do was eat the frog.

Mark Twain said, “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning that will probably be the worst thing you do all day.” Brian Tracy based his book Eat That Frog on this quote and Mark Devries also references this concept in his book Sustainable Youth Ministry. The idea is that every day, each of us faces a frog that, sooner or later, we have to eat. Frogs come in all shapes and sizes. Since frog is not an appealing snack to most of us, we often busy ourselves with something else and push it aside with good intention to eat it later. Periodically we look over at our frog and notice it seems to have grown and is now extra slimy. You see where this is going…suddenly the day is over and you haven’t had the time to eat that frog.

Have I been so busy for the past 5 months that I haven’t had time to write my notes?  No. Since my wedding, in addition to normal things like going to work full-time, running errands, exercising, and spending quality time with my husband, family and friends, I’ve also had enough time to rearrange my entire apartment, watch the entire TV series Homeland, and brew two batches of beer! Time is very often a scapegoat.

The trouble with these daily frogs is, if you don’t eat your Monday frog on Monday, you’ll have two frogs to eat on Tuesday. If I had spent my time actually writing, instead of just thinking about writing, making to-do lists, and reorganizing my office so I’d have space to write my thank you notes, I would have finished all of them by Halloween. Instead I wasted an embarrassing amount of emotional energy, time, and brain power watching my multiplying frog collection to a point of sheer intimidation. 

Months before our wedding I anticipated that this exercise in etiquette would be an overwhelming project and look how well I succeeded in that self-fulfilling prophecy. Suddenly Chris and I have been married for 6 months and I’m still not finished?! Of course there are some folks who say you have an entire year to write them…they clearly aren’t familiar with the wisdom of Our Lady of Etiquette, Emily Post. She says the sooner the better and I agree, despite my contradictory behavior.

Two weeks ago, youth ministry leaders from around the diocese gathered for one of our regional meetings and they discussed strategies that will help us all eat that frog. I couldn’t make the meeting but after hearing about their discussion, a light bulb finally went off for me. Enough is enough! I took advantage of the recent snow days and I ate that frog! The last stack of notes went out in the mail just hours before the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper last night. BOOM!

I finally ate the frog and it feels amazing! I clearly still have room to improve my frog eating skills, which is why I’ve decided to focus on the stewardship of time as my Lenten discipline. I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit is present in each of us and with God’s help we are all capable of far more than we could ever imagine. By perpetually allowing the frogs of yesterday to plague us today, we get in the way of the Holy Spirit and become our own worst enemy.

What are you waiting for? Eat that frog!