An Overloaded Life
"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds." Proverbs 27:23 (NIV)
We crammed suitcases, backpacks and tote bags on a luggage cart and raced to the ticket counter. Late for our flight, we thought it would save time to put everything on one cart and run.
Every few steps, something started slipping. My husband was pushing, I was pulling - both of us trying to balance the overloaded cart. We were doing okay until we approached the elevator.
Our oldest son, seven at the time, held the elevator door open. But, as we went over the sloped curb bags started falling. Robbie, who was three and had a broken foot, stopped in front of the cart. My husband didn't see him as he reached for a slipping bag and ran over Robbie's foot.
Robbie screamed, my husband yelled for help and the elevator beeped to tell us the door had been open too long. Our son Josh started crying in fear. Within seconds, we were in a total meltdown.
If only ... if only we had left our hotel with extra time, if only we had anticipated the wait at the rental car return, if only we hadn't overloaded the cart, if only we hadn't gotten frustrated with scared and hurt children.
Regrets weighed heavy as we ran to our gate, making our flight with seconds to spare.
I wish that day was an exception, but during that time in my life I always tried to do one last thing before leaving the house, fit one more errand into an already busy afternoon, or take on more than I could handle.
The problem? I had an overloaded life.
My responsibilities outweighed my capacity to manage them. Every day I was frustrated — at myself, my home, husband and children. Why couldn't anyone get it together?! Why didn't the demands stop? Why did everyone NEED me so much?!
The day came when I couldn't deny reality any more. I couldn't blame, find excuses or procrastinate. I was falling apart, and my family was suffering. My techniques had to stop.
Proverbs 27:23 says, "Know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds." That's just what I needed to do. Although it was painful, I took an honest look at all my responsibilities, projects, priorities and tasks, and paid careful attention to what I was doing well and what I was neglecting.
I listed things I needed to do for home, work, family. What needed to be done now, and future projects. I recorded volunteer responsibilities at school and church. It took days, as things came to mind that I'd forgotten. When I was done I wanted to burn it and start over - it was that overwhelming.
Instead, I started to edit. After spending lots of time in prayer, seeking God's will in that season of my life, I crossed through responsibilities I didn't feel called to any more, and things other people could do. I whittled my list down to what I could manage given my priorities as a wife and mom of three little boys.
Some things could be edited out of my life immediately, while other commitments needed to be fulfilled before I removed them from my schedule.
Finally life became manageable. The underlying anxiety that I "should" be doing something all the time ceased. My never-ending list became a "Project" list I manage weekly. And from that list I pull the tasks that become my to-do list for the week or day.
God has since added two girls to our family through adoption, so now I'm the mother of five. And they all still need me. But, by knowing the condition of my flocks, I'm able to manage the controllable parts of my life so I can better deal with the uncontrollable parts.
I'll probably always deal with the tendency to believe I can do more than I really can. But I've realized my optimism can hurt me and my loved ones if I don't balance it with wisdom and a careful look at the reality of my life at this present moment. I've learned the hard way - an overloaded life leads to meltdowns. But a well-managed life leads to balance and peace.
Dear Lord, You know how crazy and out of control my life can be. But You've called me to a well-managed life. Help me manage better what I can control, and in doing so, prepare for what I can't control. I need Your wisdom and discernment today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Do you feel overloaded and overwhelmed? Take a personal assessment by writing down everything you need to do. Then prayerfully consider what needs to be edited out of your schedule.
What changes can I make so I have more balance and peace?
Luke 12:42-43, "The Lord answered, ‘Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns.'" (NIV)
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