How, oh HOW, is it already March? I can't even believe my eyes! I'm starting to feel like I can't keep up with my own life and that I should just get used to that inevitable sinking feeling every night around 9pm that there aren't enough hours in the day.
Yesterday Dave Clayton shared a great message at church. I was caught by a little side story he told to illustrate one of his points. I won't go into all the details, but basically there was a point in his life when a mentor and friend, out of love, told him that he was living a sinfully busy life. His mentor said, "If you're not careful, the work of God through you will kill the work of God in you," referring to his lifestyle at the time of "work work work for the Lord."
In reflecting on his overall point of the entire message (what part of my life is Jesus trying to put a finger on and help me break free from?), this notion of sinfully busy kept running through my head.
For the past three years, I have lived a lifestyle that consisted of little sleep, little margin, and lots of "things to do." I can't think of the last time I went to bed at night feeling satisfied with myself in terms of productivity and my check list. I thought it was a season, and in some part it has been, but I think I'm beginning to realize that it is an addiction. I've always thought I was lazy - I still do on some level - and I think this addiction helps me soothe that self-consciousness.
Of course, I'm already half way to seeking help by having an end date for one of my two full time jobs. But I don't want to allow myself to fill up all that freed time once May rolls around. There will be much to do (especially with a special little one on the way), but I am determined to keep that additional margin sacred. I was telling my good friend Keela at church on Sunday that for the first time in my life, beginning in May I won't have an excuse for not doing everything I want to do in terms of personal and spiritual development. My schedule will be 100% what I make it. And I want to reclaim balance in my life, and most importantly, in my heart.
So in preparation for May, I am taking steps now to begin living more wholly and confidently in balance. Because I know life will only ever get busier, and even if I still have two full time jobs in the meantime, there has to be a way to make it all work and not feel like I'm giving up a piece of my soul doing it.
So with that, my March goals.
Simplify: I envision this as taking a deep breath every morning, really sifting through everything that feels important and boiling it down to what is important. I'm the kind of serial to do list maker that ends up making 35 lists every day of every imaginable thing I've ever wanted to do.. from stenciling curtains to building a porch onto our house. Yeah. Obviously THAT probably isn't going to get checked off (and I wonder why I don't feel satisfied at the end of the day!). So I'm making an effort to filter through all those floating goals and only focus on the concrete ones on a day to day basis. (Of course with long-term projects picking up steam as I have time for them.)
Slow Down: I never used to be a bath person. I thought they were gross: to sit in your own dirt and get hot and sweaty. It sounded the opposite of relaxing to me. But then for the first three years of our marriage, our bathtub drain was broken at our apartment (I can't say I would have bathed it in if it weren't broken, but you always want what you can't have). I have to say - now that we have a working, sparkling clean bathtub I LOVE THEM. I think pregnancy forced me into becoming a bath person, but it has become a wonderful way for me to take thirty minutes to myself, read my Bible, or just reflect on my life, and pray. I plan on finding other activities like this to add to my life (I can't wait to start walking the dog again when it gets warm!) because when it's something as easy as a 30 minute activity, I can always make time for it, and I'm always glad when I do.
Organize: This is all encompassing in my life right now. Our house is still only 50% unpacked, I need to carefully manage my remaining two months at work to make sure everything gets done before I leave, and our new house has left me with a million projects floating around/taking up room in my brain space. Even if this just involves making lists and setting them aside, or unpacking one box every week, I want to get it out of my brain and into action. However, I also don't want this to become another to do, so I prefer to think of it as a mind shift rather than an activity. I want to be diligent and organized with the time I have, so that I can make more margin in my life. Perhaps instead of watching TV to relax on a Saturday, I can get to work on the pile of clothes that need to be put in my dresser (that my amazing father-in-law REBUILT for us after it broke!!) instead. I find things like that equally relaxing - but sometimes I just default to watching TV instead of thinking about other, more helpful options.
Finally, be realistic: Again, I am the queen of making lists that make me want to take a nap. I feel burdened by them more often than I feel relieved by them. So, at least for the month of March, I am vowing to keep my expectations for my day realistic. (As for long-term projects/planning lists... the sky is the limit! Woohoo!) It's when I am unrealistic in my expectations of what I can get done that I end up running myself ragged and falling back into that addiction of a busy lifestyle. Again, this is what leads me to feel so unsatisfied and "behind" when my head hits the pillow. Unfortunately, it's just not feasible that I will finish all 30 items on my to do list at work. So I will pick the most important ones, and chip away day by day, allowing myself grace that it takes time to finish things. This is hard for me, but the hardest things bring the most growth!
So there it is. I expect to be held accountable to these - so please don't hesitate to ask me how my goals are going. Am I still living a sinfully busy life, pushing off the most important things to pursue those that don't really matter - or am I pursuing a life of balance and grace, with margin and meaning in the mundane? (That alliteration was totally unplanned!) Please do ask me about it. I hope I have good news to report. :)
What are your goals for March?