Ever have a moment in life where everything clicks and falls into place? A quick look, a rare glimpse of pure clarity, even if it was just for a second. I have, and let me tell you it is beautiful. So many times as a parent my life becomes overwhelming and filled to the brim with commitments. At times it can be hard to look past what I have to do today, tomorrow or even the next week, month, or year.
During those sporadic times of transparency, when I take a personal “time out” and stop to look around me I am overwhelmed with a different emotion, feelings that do not include stress or frustration. They are feelings of relief and amazement, of awe and gratitude. My life as over-committed as it can be, is filled with insurmountable blessings. Everywhere I look in these moments I see God’s goodness and faithfulness in my life. But alas these are merely glimpses in the large scope of things.
In reality, most of my time is spent being caught up in the nasty business of micro-managing schedules. Time spent planning out the minutest details of my children, my husband’s and my life. It is sad really, when you actually stop and think about this concept. I am a Wife, Mother, master scheduler, amongst other things. When I say that I am a Mother I should probably interject that I am a “Stay At Home Mom”, and therefore seem to be expected to do more than that of my working counterparts. I mean “what do I do all day”? I must sit around reading books, taking baths, and eating bon-bons. Maybe I sit on Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/Instagram, drink coffee and pretend to be busy. Whatever misconceptions come along with SAHM’s they are despondently untrue. In truth I am far from lazy or uninvolved… in fact I am the direct opposite. I am OVER-COMMITTED, OVER-EXTENDED, and tired.
You see I do not have a “real job” (as I have been told on numerous occasions). As a result (of my lack of paid employment,) I must have time to join and/or volunteer for: the PTA, at my church, Scouts, varied sports roles for multiple children, and still manage to have time to maintain my household providing a clean/neat environment and a warm dinner on the table every night. Heaven forbid I should find time to have coffee with a friend or do something for myself (gasp).
Please do not get me wrong, I am not complaining, nor am I pointing fingers at anyone other than myself. I will be the first to admit to you that I have a seriously BAD CASE of OVER-COMMITMENTS! I have an inherent need to prove my value to the world, and this is an issue of the heart. I am a leader by nature and that shines through in all aspects of my life. I am over-committed, over-extended, and tired, but I am blessed. The Bible reads in Matthew 11:28 (NIrV) “Come to me, all of you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest”. Jesus has promised me that if I will cast my cares upon Him, He will help me be at peace. I know this to be true as He has filled me with this peace time and time again.
I do not regret the time that I spend on school, scouts, church, sports, or any other commitments. I do, however, regret the time that I allow some of these commitments steal away from my life as a wife and mother. Without pointing out an organization directly I will simply state that several of my non-household commitments are the equivalent of having multiple full-time jobs requiring as many as 40+ hours a week. Planning and scheduling these things around my family life is terribly difficult and hard to balance. Truth be told, these commitments are not meant for one person to do alone (although that is the case in many instances.) There are many times where I fail to be present as I know I should be and as I know God wants me to be in the lives of my children and husband. There are times in which my commitments seem to take precedent over my family (which should not happen, but it does).
It hurts my heart to think that my family does not always get the best of me. At times I am spread way too thin and they get the brittle left-overs. Times like these cause me to contemplate the legacy that I am leaving behind. How will my kids remember me when I am no longer with them? Will they remember the laughs, the games, the fun, the light and wisdom I have imparted to them; or will they just remember that their Mom was always too busy? I know that I am not the only one out there with these struggles and I am grateful that I am not alone.
Each time I reflect on my life, my mind always wanders to the same question. How do I, a self-proclaimed control freak, learn to let things go and simplify my existence? How can I take steps to stop the daunting task of over-committing myself and instead focus on my family? While I will be the first to admit that there is no easy answer to this question, I do believe it all starts with one simple word. No. I believe it starts with learning the power of the word “NO”!
So many times I feel that because no one else will step up and take on a task, that I myself will have to carry the extra weight. In my mind I would rather accept more than my fair share than let the project fall flat. I just want the tasks that I am doing to be successful and I want the group I representing to be successful as well. I see the success of the task as a personal reflection of me and sometimes as a reflection of the group as a whole. Maybe it was the way I was raised, or maybe it is just a part of my character that I was born with, but I always want to present my best foot forward. We live in a world that judges our actions, judges our intentions, and judges our every motive and move. I want to find myself worthy in these areas. My flesh wants to be seen with worth, and this is not only prideful it is wrong thinking!
It is in this skewed version of thinking I am reminded that in Christ alone I have worth. I do not have to prove myself to Him or to this messed up world. By grace He saved me. As stated in Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-“. The only opinion that matters is His. He loves, values, and cherishes me even when I do not hold up to the world’s standards. After all “Everyone has sinned. No one measures up to God’s glory.” Romans 3:23(NIrV). For this and in this declaration I am eternally grateful. It gives me freedom to be human, to be imperfect (flawed). Perfection is unattainable, however, I can strive to be the best possible version of myself that there is.
So how do I attain the wisdom needed to use that powerful two letter word? How can I attempt to learn that I do not need to save the world or even a single event? The answer is by simply practicing it. Constantly reminding myself that it is okay (and in some instances absolutely necessary) to say “No”. No, I’m sorry I cannot work that event. No, sorry, I am not available to run a booth that day. No, I have a conflict on my schedule and cannot commit to that event.
With each success I have in turning down something that quite frankly I do not need to add to my overly busy and chaotic life, I am building confidence in myself. I am learning through prayer to rely on Christ’s strength when I am weak and His courage when I am scared. I still stumble, and I still commit to far more than I should, but I am learning balance and humility. I understand that there are no superheroes and that I do not need to create one in my image. One day (by the grace of God,) I will be able to only commit to the things that I feel led to commit to. I am working and aspiring to that goal and will be so grateful when it is attained. Until then I will practice saying “No” and pray for guidance as I seek to make my family my highest priority after my relationship with Christ.