I received great encouragement at dotMom this year, but the very last break out session I attended impacted me so much.
The session was titled Maxed Out Moms with Chrystal Evans Hurst. Chrystal is a gifted speaker and she recently published her first book, Kingdom Woman with her father, Tony Evans. Her own daily experience as a wife and mother to five makes her an excellent “in the trenches” mentor on mothering.
The breakout was only 45 minutes in length, but I ended up taking 3 pages of notes– beginning with a long list of scriptures with which she began. Verses I have loved to go back to in the last few weeks of mommying. They have reminded me WHO placed me in this role in the first place. They have given me grace when I’ve failed and plenty of challenge when I feel myself leaning toward unrealistic expectations of what a “good mom” looks like.
Chrystal used humorous examples of times when she has taken on (completely harmless) tasks that she felt like she “should” do only to find out that this “one more thing,” was what caused her to be juggling way too much. I’ve often heard the phrase, “The good is sometimes the enemy of the best.” I find this to certainly be true in my own life. I love to be a mom. I love to be a wife. I love that I am able to stay home, because I haven’t always been able to. But I HATE to say no. Especially if it’s something I enjoy. If I can do it, I want to. This is an area God has long been working in my heart over. My desire to do everything for everyone. To volunteer to do ‘XYZ’ just because I think I should– because I “stay home.” Almost as if because I don’t go to a physical job outside the home, then I SHOULD do everything the long way. The hard way. The homemade way. Every. Single. Time. I’m learning that there is a time and a place for the long way. There is also a time to say, “NO. Enough.” It’s ok for me to take a few shortcuts and NOT feel guilty about it. I’ve been saying to myself for a while, “I can’t do everything,” but what this session has helped me see clearly, is that THIS IS BIBLICAL, not just self-preservation!!!
One of the best illustrations from Chrystal was the example of “skipping lines” or “leaving margin.” In elementary school when we learned to write, our teachers often said, “Skip Lines.” The reason behind this being that it gave them space to correct, adjust, insert comments and make changes. She went on to say that this is what God wants from us. Room to move. Room to adjust our day to suit His purposes. Margin to insert things into our days and weeks that HE would have us do or be available for. One phrase of Chrystal’s that has stuck with me is, “Don’t live your life from the top of the page to the bottom corner, leaving no room for God to work!!” (AMEN!)
Whoa. Convicting. Now obviously, there are many non-negotiables in our days. Things that must be done at a certain time, but there are other elements that WE hold ourselves hostage to because WE think there are necessary just because they are good. Are you STRESSED OUT doing things that you see others doing? Things you may not even care that much about. Things that wouldn’t deprive your family of any love or care if you just, left them out? Things that you see other moms doing. Things you see other moms “pinning” and think, “Hey I should do that!!” Or, “My poor kids. They eat frozen waffles every morning before school and that mom gets up and makes homemade whatever each day.”
In the interest of full disclosure. Here’s a screen shot of my Pinterest. This isn’t even all of it. Oh. Wow. I better get busy. (I kid.)
Lose Some Weight (in your schedule.)
Girl. Let it go. Let’s agree to let it go together.
I’m ashamed to say how many times I have been rapidly going through my day, trying to just barely keep up with all the things that I “have” to do only to realize what I’m neglecting. Every minute of every day of every week should NOT be scheduled. There needs to be EMPTY SPACE!!! Honestly, those are the times when I learn the most. When I can just be still for a few moments. When I’m available for that game of High-Ho Cherry-O that leads to the meeting of an emotional need. They KNOW when we have over scheduled ourselves to such a degree. They know because we sigh in impatience when they need help with a shoe, or a tissue, or anything at all. As Chrystal reminded us about over-doing it to the point of exhaustion, “You are in charge of PRECIOUS CARGO! Life is too important to fall asleep at the wheel!”
So What Now?
So what do you do? How do you decide what goes and what stays? Chrystal had a few thoughts on this and they have helped me eliminate things that needed to go. (all words in bold-quotations are hers.)
“What am I doing that is causing a deficit in my life?” Can it be eliminated?
“It’s OKAY to have boundaries. To have ‘You’ time.” “Determine what YOU need interjected into your life and then make it happen and then don’t feel guilty.” (a few examples of this were, a regular time for yourself, an hour a week, etc. getting up early, time to exercise, whatever it is that helps YOU serve your family better and be better equipped for how God wants to use you.)
“Don’t be stressed out doing good things that God has not asked you to do. If you don’t know what these are, ASK HIM! Every little thing might need to be checked against what He is asking of you!”
“Do Only WHAT God wants you to DO. Go only WHERE He wants you to GO. Be only WHO He wants you to BE!”
In closing, I hope that this has been helpful for you as it was for me. I feel this is a topic so many of us deal with. But when we look at Scripture, specifically the life of Jesus we see that even HE withdrew. He separated Himself for moments of quiet. As Chrystal reminded us a few weeks ago, Jesus didn’t heal every single person. He didn’t do every single thing that everyone thought He should. He did ONLY what His Father wanted of Him.