I often slip into the life of warp-speed where everything we do has to be done fast because we have got a LOT to do, people! I’m never sure of when it was that I crossed the line from a schedule that is “full” to one that seems to be demanding my very life from me. Life with children is a certain kind of busy, but there are times when I find ourselves (over)committed to too many “good” things that demand too much of our precious time.
When I cross the line from busy to insanity, I become irritable (some people might use a harsher term to describe the mood and I would not disagree). It is no exaggeration to say that the whole family suffers from a too-busy schedule. When I realize that we are in “insane schedule territory,” I desperately try to think of ways to slam on the brakes. I am very rarely a person who backs out of commitments, so of course for awhile, I fantasize excusable reasons to run away from my obligations. These fantasies include crazy things like wishing a heart attack on myself (not a bad one…just one where I obviously need to recoup a little), having another baby (thinking that this excuse is less stressful than my schedule goes to show you how stressful I find my schedule), or wishing my hubby found a great job opportunity in Latin America, or preferably, across an ocean. Of course I really don’t think any of these are a great option, so eventually I move on to find alternative escapes from my frenzied life.
Like anything, I turn to Google. I find a blogpost like this, a beautiful post, and realize that reading a list of tips for “slow living” feels like another checklist that I can’t live up to. I begin to wonder if my problem is mindset. The blogger writes encouragingly about lovely things like “going back in time” and doing things like hanging your laundry outside and baking your own bread. I think how hanging my laundry outdoors is another CHORE on a long list of to-dos (but I did it, gosh darn it!) but baking bread just isn’t going to make the list. Then I start to beat myself up. Why aren’t I baking my bread? Isn’t that what good mothers and wives do?! Sure, I just hung my laundry out to dry today, but I get an “F” in the baking fresh bread department.
Eventually, a hectic schedule also becomes a source of failures. I’m running around like a crazy woman and I forgot something on my grocery list. Fail. While trying to multitask, I break a dish or forget to pick up a kid at dance. Fail. I’m trying to make crafts for my girls to replicate (and thus score some fun memories in which I am the heroine crafty mom) but really all I want to do is swear at the ugly failures I’m producing. We should read more? try more sports? listen to more live music? interact inter-generationally? minister? spend more time with family and friends? More, more, more! And at every corner, there is more to do and more ways to feel not-enough. Like a failure.
This isn’t what Jesus was telling us about when he promised us life to the full. Not a life full of activities, obligations, should’ve/could’ve regrets, and millions of missed opportunities. John 10:10 quotes Jesus: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” In a very busy schedule, beautiful little moments with my oh-so-quickly-growing children are being stolen. My joy is being killed in the constant pressure of doing it all and doing it well. I see the sweetness of my marriage being destroyed as I become tense, business-like, and
probably definitely unbearable.
I’m not an innocent victim in my family’s unraveling sanity. I am the chief culprit. I can blame culture, others’ expectations, the church, my children’s needs, or blame my weaknesses instead of my choices. So here I am. In the midst of the wrong kind of abundance, what do I do? I’m past the point of doing the “little” things like eating more slowly to enjoy my food, taking a walk in nature, driving slower….(eyeroll)…friends, I’m romanticizing life-threatening health conditions so I can get a little rest…I need a slightly more dramatic approach to deal with my hectic schedule.
I realize that two big factors in the choices that get me to this point (“choices” such as: sign the kids up for that! come on over to our house! we should totally go to that! I can help plan that! how can I drum up more business? I should really be helping so and so…) are 1. insecurity and 2. a desire to be enough for everyone. I compare myself to others and only see the multitude of ways that I do not measure up. Eager to not disappoint or hurt, I try to find any way possible to be what someone else needs me to be. Whether this is my child, my husband, my family, a friend, or my church, I don’t want them to think I don’t value them and so I must find whatever way possible to be who they need me to be or do what they need me to do. (Unfortunately, I think my husband is the least demanding of me and probably ends up with what very little is left at the end.) One of my Google searches led me to an article that encouraged me to quit trying so hard. Easy to say, harder to do–or not do–whatever.
It’s more than just not trying so hard. It’s more than self-talking myself into believing I’m good enough and I’m smart enough. It’s refocusing my vision for my life. Jesus has called me his–not because of anything I’ve done or because of who I am, but wholly because of what he has done on my behalf because of Who God is. Isaiah 30:15: This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” He has shown me what is good (Micah 6:8 is what I consider to be one of my life verses) and yet I continually try desperately to do what is good in man’s eyes. I forget that character is what I do when no one is watching and instead I try to put on a publicly cheerful mask as I seek my worth in deeds and activities.
Change begins with identifying myself with God alone, in Christ alone. Repenting from a life lived for others. I’m praying that with peace will come an easy way to lighten my own load and escape the obligations I never should have tied myself to in the first place. Feeling hopeful instead of trapped….