Purpose. I’ve still been pondering that word and the overwhelming thoughts that rush to my brain as I consider what it means. For so long, I’ve been striving to accomplish one big thing that I was sure God had for me to do. The thought that my purpose may be something big, but that it could also be found in the small moments that fill my days has really challenged me. What if today, all God wants me to do is say yes? What if God just wants me to say yes to the things He has for me today? Am I open to that?
In Ephesians 2:10 (ISV) we are told that,
“ . . . we are God’s masterpiece, created in the Messiah Jesus to perform good actions that God prepared long ago to be our way of life.”
Did you catch that? First of all, you are a masterpiece. A masterpiece is a work of outstanding artistry, skill, or workmanship. It is one’s best work. One’s magnum opus. You are God’s magnum opus. Secondly, you were created to do good things: good things that God prepared long ago to be your way of life. Think about that for a moment. How are you living your life? Do you think you are currently living in the way that God planned for you? Are you living your life in a way that you can say yes to the things God has for you? Are you open to His Best Yes assignments; the things He created you to do?
If you are like me, you are living from one crazy day to another. My days are packed full with managing our household, caring for children, and working part time. I add to that grocery shopping, volunteering at the school, taking kids to appointments, keeping up on social media, keeping up on current events, play dates, coffee dates, date nights . . . every moment of my day is full. What about you? What types of things do you do in a typical day? I would encourage you to think about that for a moment. Take some time to think about all of the things you do in a one day.
Do your days look as crazy as mine? Our days are full . . .completely full, and we wonder why we feel stressed and beyond exhausted. Why do we live life at such a fast pace and desperately try to squeeze as much as we can into a day? I recently read an article entitled: 9 Hidden Lies that Keep Our Schedules Overwhelmed that I felt was worth sharing. The author, Josh Becker, says, “The speed of our world is increasing. Technology and communication continue to improve. Information moves faster. And social media rewards those who never turn it off. Expectations, demands, and accessibility continue to expand, but the number of hours in a week do not. As a result, our lives get busier and busier. This approach to life rarely benefits us in the long-run because a busy life is an unreflective life. In fact, often times, we are so busy scurrying from one thing to another we don’t even have the space to realize our schedules have become overwhelmed. We don’t recognize how our overcommitted lives are harming us.” Ouch. He goes on to share the nine lies he feel contribute to our overwhelming schedules.
- Accolades (praise) will bring fulfillment. The thinking goes like this: The busier we are, the more we can accomplish and the more respect we can earn. And the more respect and accolades we receive, the more we can surely prove our worth and value to others. Unfortunately, if you are trying to find fulfillment in someone else’s opinion of you, you will never find it. You will always be left searching (and working) for more.
- Money will bring happiness. We often get caught up in needless busyness because of our desire to earn and secure more money. Ever notice how often we are offered money (or the chance to win money) for our time? While it is important to work hard and provide for the needs of your family, it is foolish to think money is the quickest shortcut to better living.
- I don’t have a choice. Many of us live over-busy lives because of the expectations and demands of others. In these cases, it is important to remember you always have a choice. Sure, there are seasons of life that require more of you and your time than others, but seasons always change. If yours hasn’t changed recently, you may need to revisit who is making the decisions in your life and where you can regain some of your control.
- I’m more productive if I’m busy. Maybe you can be more productive for a short while, but human beings are not designed to work relentlessly without periods of rest. Countless studies confirm the importance of rest for productivity. Eventually, a lifestyle of busyness will detract from our productivity. And more importantly, your health and well-being. There are no exceptions.
- I am needed. Pride is defined as holding an excessively high opinion of oneself or one’s importance. And it leads to overwhelmed schedules because of the foolish thinking that follows it: “Nobody else can do what I do.” This pride affects the way we view our business, our work, our family, and our personal relationships. Left unchecked, it leads to a busy life and in the end, a fall.
- Everything is important. Our world has a tendency to make everything appear urgent, important, and beneficial to our lives. As the speed of information increases, our minds are seemingly less equipped to filter all the information and opportunities. But the most productive among us realize nobody can accomplish everything. They are relentless in their understanding of mission and the reality that very few things are truly important. And they never sacrifice the important for the trivial.
- I need to be busy to keep up with everyone else. It may seem, at times, the only way to get ahead in life is to outwork everyone else. But just because everyone else appears busy does not mean they are busy about the right things. Nor does it mean they are finding joy in their pursuits. Frank Clark perhaps said it best, “Modern man is frantically trying to earn enough to buy things he’s too busy to enjoy.”
- Busy makes me look more important. Busy, in and of itself, is not a badge of honor. In fact, being busy doing the wrong things is actually quite unattractive. Just remember, in a society rushing to keep up with everyone else, those who find peace, contentment, and rest are the ones admired…and envied.
- Quietness is laziness. Often times, people avoid dealing with life’s deeper issues by packing their schedule tight. Someone who is discontent with their life’s choices can escape the difficult work of addressing them by masking them with busyness. Quietness is not laziness. Quietness is hard, but always worth the effort.
He’s right. As a society, we are too busy. We’re too busy and we don’t always like to admit that fact. We don’t like to admit that we can’t do it all. Lysa Terkeurst said something that I found really interesting. She said, “In this great day when most women wave banners of authenticity about our pasts, we crouch back from honesty about our presents. We’ll tell you all about our broken places of yesterday, but don’t dare admit the limitations of our today.” We don’t dare admit . . . the limitations of our today. We try to do it all. We rush. We say yes to too much. And in doing so, we miss our best assignments. We sometimes miss the Best Yeses that God places before us.
So how do we change this? How do we adjust our schedule to make room for those Best Yes assignments that God has for us? First, and this is important, we need to be spending time with Him. If we are spending time with God daily in prayer and study of the Scripture, the other aspects of our lives will fall into place. With our focus on Him, we will more clearly be able to see what is really important in life. Now, you may be saying, “I don’t have time to spend with God! Have you seen how busy I am? Look at my schedule!” You have to make time for Him. You need to intentionally schedule Him in. If you need to write it on your calendar, do it. The more time we spend with Him and digging into His Word, the easier it will be for us to hear Him: to hear how He wants us to be spending our time. Isaiah 30:21 (VOICE) says,
“Your ears will hear sweet words behind you: ‘Go this way. There is your path; this is how you should go’ whenever you must decide whether to turn to the right or the left.”
To know the path God has for us, we need to be listening to His voice. Start spending more time with Him.
Secondly, we need to be more intentional about how we are spending our time. Think about an equal arm balance scale for a moment. On one side, we have all of the things that we currently do in a day. We have sleeping, we have eating, we have feeding the baby, going to work, watching TV, checking Facebook, checking Facebook, checking Facebook . . . Our days are really full so this side of the scale is really loaded down. Now, on the other side of the scale, we have the things that God actually has for us to do. For most of us, we find that this side isn’t filled quite as full as the first side. It’s not as heavy. It’s not as loaded down. When we compare the two, we see a huge imbalance between what we are spending our time on and what God actually has for us.
We need to start being more intentional about our time. Look at the things you do each day. Which of those things are actually priorities? Sleeping should be one. Going to work might be another. Changing the baby’s diaper, that too is a priority. Those things that are priorities throughout your day, need to stay. Some of them may not be things that you enjoy doing, but they are necessary in your current season of life.
What about everything else that you fill your day with? Is there anything there that you can completely let go of or cut back the amount of time you spend doing it? For me, most mornings, I completely pick up our downstairs living space. I tidy everything up, and then my children come home from school and what happens? It gets messy again. For me, rather than completely picking everything up each morning, I could spend just ten minutes tidying some of it. Then, once a week, I could give the space a good cleaning. By doing that, it would definitely free up some of my time for something else. Another thing that I spend a great deal of time doing each day is checking Facebook, and I know I’m not alone in this. What would it look like if I turned off my notifications (stay with me on this) and checked it only once a day? How much of my time would be free for other things by doing this? What about you? Is there something that you can let go of or cut back on? For each thing that we let go of or cut back the amount of time that we spend on it, our daily load becomes lighter and lighter. Get more intentional with how you spend your time.
Lastly, leave some white space in your day. What do I mean by that? I want you to intentionally set aside time each day or maybe just each week that you have nothing scheduled: no where to be, no demands, no expectations. Why? Remember a few weeks ago when I asked you to write down that one thing that stirs your soul? That one thing that you wish you had the time to do? What if you intentionally starting leaving time in your schedule to start taking small steps towards that? What if you gave yourself some white space and started honoring God with that time? Honoring Him by pursuing that spark He placed within you?Maybe, you’ve always wanted to write a book. What if you took a few minutes before bed each evening to start jotting down your thoughts? Maybe you want to go back to school. What would it look like to start thinking about the degree or classes you’d love to take? Remember the quote of Lysa TerKeurst that I shared with you? She said, “The decisions we make dictate the schedules we keep. The schedules we keep determine the lives we live. The lives we live determine how we spend our soul.” We need to get to a place where we are honoring God with the time we have.
This isn’t being selfish. “It’s giving voice to what otherwise just stays a quiet whisper locked inside.” It’s doing that thing that you were created to do. That thing that doesn’t just bless you, but reaches out to “touch others, help others, and bless them.”
I’ll close with this. Lysa Terkeurst says, “Don’t get so locked into your overwhelming schedule that you haphazardly spend your soul.” Let’s be women who choose to underwhelm our schedules so that God can overwhelm our soul. Let’s choose to honor Him with our time.
Becker, Josh. “9 Lies That Keep Our Schedules Overwhelmed”. Becoming Minimalist. https://www.becomingminimalist.com/overcoming-overwhelmed/. Accessed 13 Oct. 2018.
Biblegateway. www.biblegateway.com. Accessed 15 Oct. 2018.
Moment. https://inthemoment.io. Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
Terkeurst, Lysa. The Best Yes, Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. Nashville, Nelson Books, 2014.