It is Saturday night and I am patting myself on the back right now because it is the first week in January that I haven’t had a meltdown.
The only way I know how to describe my life lately is:
I’ve been a woman walking a tight rope over Niagara Falls with two large baskets piled full with stuff. And my goal has been to make it across without dropping anything…or falling off.
To say my life has been stressful is an understatement.
People would comment to me, “I don’t know how you do it all.” I’d smile and nod and say something like, “Well, I love what I do.” Which was true. I wasn’t lying. But what I wasn’t saying is that I am doing far too much of one thing I love, while finding I don’t have the time to do other things I love.
I would wake up early in the morning and frantically work until the kids woke up, at which point I was frustrated that they didn’t sleep later so I could get more done. Then I would start in on breakfast, housework, school, and send them to naptime, during which time I would frantically try to squeeze in as much work as I could – praying that they would nap well so I could get a lot of work done and not have to work so late that evening. But it never seemed to matter how much work I got done during naptime, in the evening there would always be more.
And it would go like this through Friday – and like clockwork, on Friday or Saturday I would explode.
The thing is this, I was conditioned to always be busy. And when I wasn’t busy, I needed to look busy.
I learned this while working at a bank as a bank teller.
We were never to appear to not be working. So even if I was shuffling papers from one side of my desk to the other, or rearranging a drawer, I was to always have the appearance that I was busy.
This carried over into my private life as well.
Far be it from me that anyone learns that I accidentally took a nap while laying next to my 3 year old in an attempt to get him to fall asleep. Surely that fact will be met with snorts and sarcasm, “Wow! Must be nice! I’d never have time for that!”
But busy doesn’t always mean productive.
This is has been true in my case for a long time now. Some days I’m overwhelmed the minute I wake up. So overwhelmed, in fact, that I can’t decide which job to start first. And the overwhelming feeling causes me to tire quickly, leaves my brain muddled, and by Saturday I’m so burned out I am no good to my family at all.
That is not very productive.
This is why the Bible urges in many places that we need to rest.
I love passage in Isaiah:
For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel:
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
But you would not,
And you said, “No, for we will flee on horses”—
Therefore you shall flee!
And, “We will ride on swift horses”—
Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift!
Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for Him.
In other places the word tells us to wait, to rest, and that His burden is light.
Where then do we get this notion that busy-ness equals a productive lifestyle and that we must fill every moment of every day to the max?
Why do we allow other people’s demands to keep us running around in a frenzy while never quite accomplishing the purpose God has for us?
It has only been recently that I have decided that enough is enough!
I have narrowed down what I feel like God’s call and vision is for my family and me. I have paired that up with one thing I would like to accomplish in 2015.
And I have let everything else go.
I have said “no” more times in the past 4 months than I have in the past 10 years combined. I am learning the value of downtime and rest.
And I am reclaiming Sundays.
I am reclaiming family time.
I am learning to rest.
I want to be productive – but I want to be productive in the things God has called me to – not productive for productive’s sake.
I want to regain control of my time and not allow others’ demands determine what my decisions look like, my day looks like, my emotions look like, or my family life looks like.
God gave me this time and I want to be a good steward of it for His glory!
But I’ve learned something this week, as I have had evenings free for the first time in months:
In order to be productive for the Kingdom, I must learn to rest. I must learn to be quiet and enjoy quiet. I must learn to wait. I must learn to stop what I’m doing, still my body, quiet my thoughts; rest, listen for His voice, and wait on Him.
In the waiting comes order. In the quiet comes calm for the stressed out emotions and tensed muscles. In the rest comes rejuvenation.
And when I get to December 2015, I want to look back on a year when I less busy, but more productive.
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