Overwhelmed Schedule. Underwhelmed Soul.

An overwhelmed schedule and an underwhelmed soul. Most days, this describes me perfectly. It aches me to say that. But this life, this hectic scheduled life of mine, that’s the consequence. A calendar so full…and a heart so empty. And the most terrible thing is, you wouldn’t look at my calendar and see anything note worthy. You wouldn’t usually see parties, or dates, or crazy fun events. You would see work, laundry, dishes, commuting, making dinner, doctors appointments, grocery shopping, cleaning and so many more monotonous things. Constantly trying to get ahead; to catch a break. But falling faster and faster behind. Growing more and more exhausted. At some point, something has to give. The load I am carrying will begin to break me down. It will unravel me from the inside out. I will get frustrated and the first things to suffer are those closest to me. My husband and my daughter. They suddenly get less of me. They get what’s left of me after everything else listed above has taken their bits and pieces. And what’s left…isn’t pretty. What’s left isn’t patient, kind, gracious, or hospitable. What’s left is short-tempered, cranky and cold. And that’s not a good way to treat even your enemies, let alone the people who you love the most.

And why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we take on more and more without removing something else from our plate? I recently read a book called “The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands” by Lysa TerKeurst (HIGHLY recommend this read ya’ll). As I read this book , so much guilt faded away – guilt that was completely self-induced, of course. With the turn of each page, the book affirmed that we control how we spend our time. We chose where to invest our hours and hearts. Each day we are faced with decision after decision. Simple decisions like what to cook for dinner and when to go grocery shopping. And complicated decisions like whether or not to take a higher paying job with a longer commute or whether or not we can financially help someone in need. Every decision affects us, it affects our family. By saying yes to everything, we end up spreading ourselves too thin. Thinner versions of ourselves usually end up exhausted, stressed and hurried. On the other hand, saying no to everything could cost us. It could cause us to miss out on a great opportunity – a calling to serve or give. This mindset allows you to say no, graciously. It allows you to count the cost of a yes. And we all know that some yeses can truly, truly cost us.

I’m a planner. A future oriented, big picture kind of gal. I’m the girl who wanted to rebel in college. So I went to the nearest tattoo shop. Only, my Type A mind has never quite allowed me to be truly spontaneous. Staring at all of the pictures, hearing the buzzing sound of the tattoo gun…my mind wandered 20 years into the future where my son/daughter would be asking what my tattoo meant or why mommy colored all over herself. It wandered to my wedding day where my dream dress didn’t cover up a less than thought out rebellious moment. So, then, my eyes started to wander to the piercing room. A nose piercing! Enough to make my parents roll their eyes: yes. Safe and easy enough to get rid of at any point: yes. Less painful: yes. So to this day, I still have a ‘sparkly booger’ on my face.

I say all of that to say this… shouldn’t we all be future oriented? Not the ‘choose a nose piercing over a tattoo’ kind of future oriented. I am talking about the ‘heaven seeking; this earth is not our home’ kind of future oriented. The kind of future orientation that makes us realize we are only here on this earth for a mere blink on God’s clock. The kind of future orientation that makes you want to make the best decision; every time. It makes you carefully choose how you spend every second gifted to you. It makes you not want to waste any time on things that drain your heart. And while I am sure we would all love to chalk laundry, cleaning, cooking, diaper changing and working up to that category – frankly, those things just need done. But there is still quite a large chunk of your time that you have control over how you spend it.
So, my challenge to myself and to you is – find your “best yes(s)” each day. I mentioned I was a planner – and yup, you guessed it. I am a list maker too. So I’ve made a “To-Do” list for this challenge.
1) Find courage to say “no” sometimes. Say no graciously, but stick to your no. You don’t NEED a reason why. So many of us avoid answering because we are too busy scrambling to come up with a justification for “this is too much. this is just too much.” There is nothing wrong with saying “no, this is not a good time for us.” Let go of the pressure you may feel when making a decision for you; for your family. Be it little or small – it all matters. Stop trying to be ‘fair’ to everyone at your hearts’ expense.
2) Resist the urge to fill your calendar when it may appear empty to others. Take time for your family – your core unit. Make people respect that. This is so important for working mamas. I know how hard it is to be away from your family all day, to rush home each evening, to cook dinner, eat, clean up, give baths, brush teeth and only have a few minutes left to play before bed. It makes me crave an empty weekend calendar. It makes me cringe when someone tries to make plans on a week night. And that’s okay – your little family comes before anything and anyone else.
3) Take time for yourself. Seriously, this one is a big one mamas. We can’t be filling the cups of others, the ones who are counting on us, if our own pot is empty.    Recognize when you’re stressed; when you’re becoming overwhelmed. Step back, reassess your priorities. It’s okay to need “me” moments. It’s okay to ‘check out’ every once in a while. Your household will be happier because you did so.
4) Invest your time in people and things that bring you joy and calm. Invest your heart in people and things that encourage you, that fill you up, that make you and your family better. Distance yourself from the ones you feel physically, mentally and emotionally drained from spending time with. Set boundaries with these people – as sometimes they are our family and friends.
5) Leave room for God. How you spend your time is how you spend your life. Let that sink in. If it means waking up earlier each day to just have a few quiet minutes with Him. If it means staying up later to give all that happened each day to Him. I can almost guarantee you will never regret any time sacrificed for Him. There are days I feel so out of control. There are mornings I wake up already defeated. Until I read my devotional or until I listen to the Praise and Worship station on my commute to work. He never fails to satisfy my soul. He never fails to ground me, to lift my head and heart.
Let’s not fill up our calendars with so much “stuff” that we are too tired and burnt out to do the work God calls us to. Let’s not become so busy and preoccupied that we miss the God appointed encounters completely. Let’s stop measuring our importance and existence by our calendars and schedules.

2 Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more! When I was first starting out as a mom, I thought that I had to have everything right and be super mom. It only got me more frazzled and depressed that I couldn’t do everything that “the world” thought I needed to be. A clean house, healthy food, no tv, to name a few. It is only just recently, with my oldest almost 4, that I have realized that as long as I am living the way God wants me to live and filling my kids with spiritual food, I am fulfilled through Him. My days now consist of bringing God into everything that I do and trying to make Him proud of me. Great post!

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