"And He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." Mark 6:31
I think I may have mentioned a time or two or three that I am easily overwhelmed by all the day-to-day "stuff" there is to do. There is ALWAYS something... laundry to fold, meals to prepare, school forms to fill out, errands to run, bills to pay, and on and on and on the list goes.
Most of the time I do okay. But, catch me on a day when I'm tired or the list is longer than usual and you will find me feeling overwhelmed. And, unfortunately, I don't handle overwhelmed very well. Sure, eventually it all gets done and usually it’s not as bad as I initially thought it would be, but in the meantime I have become exhausted and cranky and stressed. And, I've usually missed out on something fun. Definitely not a good place to be…. for me or for my family!
To add to the fact that I get overwhelmed so easily (or maybe because of since I don't like to let myself get to the point of being overwhelmed) I don't "be still" very well. I don't slow down and rest much... I always have something that I want to get done... something that I think NEEDS to get done. I don't do "it can wait until tomorrow" very well. My excuse is that if I just get it done now then I don't have to worry about it later. While that does work for awhile and is legitimate for some tasks, it isn't always what is most important for that moment. At some point, we all need to stop.
Because of this, I have found myself thinking quite a bit over the last 6-8 months about what leads me to being overwhelmed and what I can do differently to keep from reaching that point as much as I do. One thing I am realizing is that I need to more often consider things such as "I need to take time now to rest before I fall over in an exhausted heap." Or, "I need to slow down and determine what is truly the most important tasks.” And, then there is ALWAYS this one that I know should be at the top of the list every day… “I need to be still and rest and spend time listening to God." Now, I have always eventually gotten around to all those questions. Unfortunately, I usually wait much too long and by that time I am at that point of being exhausted and stressed and cranky.
Here are just a few of the questions that I've been asking myself:
Does all the "stuff" on my to do list really need to be done right now? Are there maybe even things on the 'ole list that I should let go or, at the very least, throw to the bottom of the list?
Why is it that when I write out my to do list that I don't consider time to rest?
Why is it that my to do list doesn't include some of the most important things that need to be done? Things like spending time with family, with friends, with GOD?
Why does "completing the list" take precedence over those important things noted in the previous question?
The more time I’ve spent thinking on this and praying on it, I am more convinced than ever that God doesn’t want me constantly “doing”…. no matter how important the items are on my to do list. At some point it is just “stuff” that can’t be placed above taking the time to rest and time to be still.
Over the summer I really tried to work on resting and taking the time to really listen to what God might be trying to tell me and show me. And, you know, I found that if I take the time to rest and to really prioritize those things on my to do list that I’m a lot less overwhelmed. Could it be that when we place God first and then prioritize everything else behind Him that it works much better? I would say “YES!” It is something I’ve always known, but not focused on as much as I should. I am learning… not totally there yet… but it is better.
I’m trying to find ways to remind myself that I’m not in this alone and that my priority should be to God and from there He will take care of the rest. How do I do this? I try to spend more time in prayer and more time in the Bible. I try to be more aware of the moment and what I am doing with each one. For example, does the laundry have to be folded right this minute or could it wait until tomorrow so I could spend a quiet even having fun with the family? Does the living room have to be picked up right now or could I just take a deep breath, accept it the way it is for the moment and sit down for a good movie and relax for a couple of hours?
Not everything fits these questions, but many do (at least for me). I do not have to do everything RIGHT NOW. Many things can wait and I've even been known to have a few things on the list that really could be left undone.
For me, this re-evaluating and letting go thing is not easy. It is hard and I don't know how I would do it without God. Ever so slowly I am learning to let go and to re-evaluate. And, in the process, I am learning more about me, learning more about God, and enjoying life much more!