Okay, if I can just finish this project by three, I can go for a quick run, get home and shower, straighten up the house, throw in a load of laundry, make dinner, wash the dishes, tackle emails for an hour or two, switch the laundry, get distracted by Facebook for a minute (or thirty), prep for tomorrow, fold and put away the laundry…
Does anyone else’s brain work like this? Constantly ticking off a running to-do list leaving little if any time for relaxing? Or even for some of the more important things on the list that seem to get lost in the mediocrity of the small things? I’m stressed out just typing this because seeing the list in print has made me remember so many more items I haven’t completed yet. Is it possible to schedule time to breathe into your day?
My husband gave me a much needed reminder today about protecting myself. Not in the classic way a husband protects his wife from physical harm, unwanted advances, or helping keep a roof over her head; but rather he had to protect my from myself. I naturally make myself busy because sitting still makes me antsy; I’m always finding little things to do around the house or to help someone out. It seems great; I’m spending time with people, building relationships, helping out those who could use some extra hands, being part of a bigger picture, reaching into lives I may never meet face to face.
But what happens when all of these great things pile up and suddenly you’re staring up at a mountain of responsibility? It starts to wobble and something falls off; you’re able to catch it, handle it, and get back just in time to catch the next that has fallen. You even power through some all-nighters to get the pile stabilized again, but it multiplies faster than there are hours in the day. You constantly find yourself waiting for it to topple over, crushing you under its weight.
We have good intentions, but that fear of being crushed is not God’s plan for us.
Sometimes, we need a gentle reminder that you’re not God. Shocking revelation right? Yet, we still think we can take on everything, help everyone, do everything. Newsflash: you can’t! None of us can. I’m a control freak; I don’t like to relinquish responsibility to someone else once I’ve taken on that role. But what good is holding on to all of these titles and responsibilities if it means losing the person God called you to be? Volunteering is great. Investing in people is great. Helping lead teams is great. But if God calls you to be a musician and you’re using all of your time cleaning the church bathrooms instead of learning your craft, you’re not being the person God is calling you to be. Yes, you’re doing something helpful and yes, you are still honoring God, but you are not stepping into the fullness of the position He has made you for. What if Moses chose to keep being a shepherd for Jethro instead of stepping into leading Israel when God called him? The ripple effect of that one decision is beyond understanding. What ripples are you stopping by staying?
God has put a promise in my heart that I will be an author. I currently volunteer answering church emails. Yes, I’m reaching people across the globe by answering their prayer requests and directing them to resources to help them grow closer to God. It’s awesome to have such an honorable responsibility. But, if I commit all of my time to answering those emails, when will I write a book? I’m not saying I need to give up the commitment to answer emails, but what if I cut back a little? What if there is someone else who is more efficient and could give better replies to these emails than me? What if by staying in a position, I’m keeping someone else out of it? What if, by doing something good, I’m missing something great. What if God has planned for me to reach more people through a book than through emails? What if my own pride keeps me from relinquishing control and building up the next generation of leaders?
I’m working through learning this lesson in real time, but as I’m writing, I realize I’m generally summarizing several of these thoughts from two books: “The Best Yes” by Lysa TerKeurst and “Unstoppable” by Christine Caine. Read them both; you won’t regret it. They are amazing and well worth scheduling into that chaotic schedule. The point is, we need to consider all of the demands on our time more closely. We shouldn’t only consider if it is nice to say yes and do something. We need to consider if we are ready to take on all of the time constraints associated with that. We need to consider if there is someone else better suited to it. We need to consider what God has placed on our hearts and see if that will detract from our focus on God’s calling.
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. That can be as simple as chocolate giving you a stomachache, or as unfortunate as volunteering making you bitter. Too much of anything has the opposite effect. Something you love can quickly find the downward slope toward disdain. Maybe putting that to-do list in print isn’t such a bad thing after all; maybe looking at the hours in a day next to all of your tasks will help you realize something has to go. Maybe you have to forego cleaning the church bathrooms this week so you can use that time to schedule a band practice. Maybe you should leave work on time today so you can sit down to dinner with your family. Maybe you need to step down from a position because you’ve grown resentful toward it and are no longer as effective. Maybe you see potential in someone else and need to relinquish some of your control to let them grow.
I’m not very good at this. I like to be busy and I like making lists and checking them off. It’s a catch-22 because I hate being stressed but love things that generally cause it. Thankfully, I’m blessed to have a husband that God uses to remind me to protect my time. Sometimes you need that audible voice telling you to reroute. Pause. Breathe. Take a step back. Guard your heart; sometimes, from too much of a good thing. The only thing you can never have too much of is God. If nothing else, make sure to make time for Him. Let Him guide your steps to what He has planned out for you; that is time you will never regret spending.
Does this ring true in your life? What things do you let overwhelm your schedule? Do you get overrun with too many positive things that somehow turn into something negative?