Feeling the pressure of several jobs to complete this week, I have a drumbeat of “deadine, deadline, deadline” in my head. Sometimes when a word keeps entering my consciousness, finding out more about that word helps. Does deadline really have something to do with death?
Deadline definition 2 of Free Dictionary Online states, ”A boundary line in a prison that prisoners can cross only at the risk of being shot. Perhaps influenced by earlier use (1864) to mean the ‘do-not-cross’ line in Civil War prisons: ‘Seventeen feet from the inner stockade was the “dead-line,” over which no man could pass and live.’ [Lossing, 1868].”
Deadline does have ominous origins. Having many deadlines at once makes me feel as trapped as the prisoner within the boundaries of the original Civil War “dead-line.” What an unpleasant image!
Who holds the figurative guns? For some tasks I do, setting the deadline when accepting the tasks. “Sure, I’ll be glad to bring cookies.” For some tasks it is the person to whom I promised a finished project by a certain time. “Yes, I’ll make those phone calls and give you their responses by Saturday.” For some deadlines the season is pulling the trigger. Winter comes to Anchorage this month. Outdoor chores like bringing in begonias and dahlias to avoid frost, changing to snow tires on the car and raking leaves must be finished very soon.
How can I avoid this trapped, ominous feeling? James 1:2-4 says, “My friends, be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble. You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested. But you must learn to endure everything, so that you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything.” (CEV) Instead of hearing the drumbeat of deadlines, I need to re-imagine them as lifelines, challenges which, when met, will bring me closer to God. With this insight, I feel less pressure already, especially since this blog deadline, or I should say lifeline, has been met. Now to re-imagine the next task and keep the focus on a lifeline to God.
Phyllis Rude, of Anchorage, Alaska, served on the churchwide executive board.