Thursday, March 30, 2017

stop trying to do it all

I don't know how you do it all!

My friend meant it as a compliment.  We were quickly passing off kids to each other, shuttling them in different directions, so I simply smiled and waved and then laughed to myself as she backed down my driveway.

I didn't have time to tell her how high the dishes were piled in my sink,
or that I went out in public in my bedroom shoes and obnoxious blue socks last week and didn't notice it until I was standing in line at Chick-fil-a,
or that - not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES - over the past month I got out of the shower and realized as I was blow drying my {very greasy} hair that I had forgotten to actually wash it,
or that I wasn't sure if my kids had brushed their teeth a single time in recent days.

Over the past couple of months my everyday friends have had a front row seat to the launch of my new book and the birth of my new publishing company.  I love being able to share these things with them on park benches and in driveways as I do everyday life stuff alongside kingdom work stuff.  Both are of equal importance.  

Yes, life has been full and busy, but even those closest to me don't completely understand how this whole thing has gone down.  

Writing a book is no joke.  Starting a business is not for the faint of heart.  Doing both at the same time may border on crazy, but it was my thing to do and my time to do it.  

But I don't do it all.
Not even close.
You shouldn't either.

I didn't force any of this, I was led here.
I didn't just add more things to an already full plate, I had to completely clear it first.
I didn't try to keep on pleasing every person around me, I opted for the approval of God over the approval of man {ugh...that's a hard one!}.

These decisions do not allow us to get everything done, but, instead, to get some things done well.  In my opinion, that is the better thing.

In the final stages of book editing your brain turns to mush.  The words on the page begin to blur and you're not sure where to put the commas or if you even spelled 'were' correctly.  Something about it just doesn't look right.  You may or may not eat peanut M&M's for breakfast because it is the closest thing to the computer and you can't break yourself away long enough to check the fridge or pantry for a healthier option.  

It's honestly a miracle the whole thing turns out as well as it does.  

In those days you have to hunker down and just finish {not the easiest thing to do, particularly when you are writing a book about beginning!}.  There will always be something more to say but I've learned the very important lesson that 
a book is your chance to say something, not everything.

Likewise, your life is your chance to do something, not everything.

You may not be an author but we all have words to offer.  You don't have to say everything,
thoughtfully say something.

You may not be an artist, but we all have beauty to share.  You don't have to share everything,
creatively share something.

You may not be a student, but we all have something to learn.  You don't have to learn everything,
commit to a deeper understanding of something.

Every time I step into something great I have to step away from something good.  
I have learned that if I begin with God, prioritize family, and then offer my best to the flock I have been entrusted to tend, great things happen.  Not everyone approves.  Some are disappointed.  Others just think I've lost my mind.  But, more and more, I'm getting okay with that.

The voice of Nehemiah comes back to me again and again - 

Nehemiah's great work was rebuilding the walls of the city of Jerusalem - the holy city, a place for God's people to live together.  God had given Nehemiah a passion and purpose which led to his project - his important work.  Nehemiah had a singular focus.  He was going to complete that wall whatever it took.  Over and over again we see others approach Nehemiah with needs apart from the wall work.  He would not come down.  He would not be distracted.  He would not be so prideful as to think he could do everything, so he stayed laser focused on his something.

As a wife and homeschooling mama, there are very few responsibilities I can maintain apart from my home life.  I must choose wisely.  I can not abandon the most important work to see to all the other dozens of needs surrounding me.  There will always be an endless list of problems to solve and people to fix in the world around us.  In my pride {disguised as compassion} I once tried to meet all the needs, all the time.  I could never keep up.  I was always letting someone down - mainly myself.  God has taught me a better way.  Here's the secret.  Are you ready?

Begin with him.

Don't just lay down your life - lay it out.  Spread every bit of it on the ground at his feet.  In humility, lift your gaze up and wait for him to show you what to do with it.  Which committees should you resign from?  Which clubs should you quit?  Which responsibilities should you delegate to someone else?  And then, when you've cleared out all the unnecessary pieces, you can look at what remains and ask - what would you have me do with this, Lord?  
My role as a wife.  
My responsibilities as a mother.  
My passions and purpose you have been stirring inside of me for years.
What would you have me do with them?

Once we know, we get to work.  And we do not come down until the work is done.

The world loves to send us this false feel-good message that we can 
Do everything! 
Be everything! 
And doing and being everything IS everything!
But, friends, that is a dead end street.  It leads to nothing.
If you've found yourself in that place, don't worry.  God is in the business of making something out of nothing.  He's been doing it since the beginning of time.

So what do you say?  
If you're tired of trying to do everything, or
you've found yourself in a big heaping pile of nothing,
maybe we can all take a step in a new direction and get to work on our something.