A big thank you to all of the contributors that have helped make this summer break possible!
Learning to Make the Changes You Need to Live Intentionally
Long before they coined the phrase, “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out), I lived with a feeling I had to say yes to everything that came my way. One day, while I was in graduate school with an important part of my thesis needing to be completed, I stood at the edge of the ocean.
My boyfriend at the time (who eventually became my husband) had invited me to join him and a group of our friends to play volleyball. Knowing I had to finish my homework, I had a nagging feeling in my mind. As I stood there staring across the water, I realized I rarely, if ever, said “no” to invitations, requests or opportunities.
It dawned on me that I couldn’t bear the thought that life was going on somewhere else while I was busy doing something mundane like writing a paper, doing laundry or cleaning my home. I had to be in the center of the action.
As if that weren’t debilitating enough, I had this unnatural need to help others when they were in trouble. Your need was my need. Compound that with a healthy dose of perfectionism and I was one of the busiest girls in town.
Running on Empty
In those days people used to comment on my capacity to juggle so many things. I took those observations as compliments. I felt I was living a full life and making the most of the time God had given me. It never occurred to me that an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and the attending perfectionism were actually the opposite of what God wanted for my life.
Ultimately, no one was built to go, go, go. The side effects of my frenetic lifestyle started to pile up. I lived with a nagging feeling that I was constantly forgetting something. I often stayed up too late trying to catch up. That meant sleep deprivation which made me lean on caffeine to make up for exhaustion. My mood was edgy. I didn’t feel the peace of God.
Instead I felt the panic of an overwhelmed life. As Lysa TerKeurst says in her book, “The Best Yes,” we can live with overwhelmed lives and underwhelmed hearts.
Through the Back Door
God wants us to learn our limitations, to choose wisely and to depend upon Him. He also calls us to incorporate rest into the rhythm of our lives. In my misguided busy lifestyle, I almost missed the intentional life God planned for me all along.
Awareness that we are drowning in our own self-created mire doesn’t instantly result in a turn-around in our choices. God had a plan, though. One summer, a group of friends asked me to lead a summer Bible study. The book they had chosen was called, “Beating Busyness,” by NavPress.
Through that study and the weeks I spent with the group, I learned to evaluate why I said “yes” all the time. I learned how Jesus made decisions. Most of all, God planted hundreds of little seeds showing me how He intended for me to live a more slow paced, intentional and abundant life.
God brought my most needed lesson by asking me to serve a group of women. He knew I wouldn’t seek practical knowledge without Him ambushing me at that point in my life. God meets us where we are to bring us where He plans for us to go.
From Amateur to Advisor
Since the year I taught that first summer Bible Study, I’ve made a hobby of reading books and blogs on slowing down, rest, and learning to choose according to God’s call. I also taught that study four more summers. What can I say? I’m a slow learner. I’ve practiced and failed and learned some more how to balance the multiple demands of my life. I’ve discovered the gift of that evasive and powerful word, “no.”
The life I live now no longer resembles that of my former frenzied self. Rather than dashing out of bed, breathless before the day begins, I wake up ten minutes before I need to get out of bed most mornings so I can enjoy snuggling the covers. I spend time reading the Word and praying and then I look over plans for the day.
I know my primary goals for each season because I plan things out prayerfully for each 90 day segment of my life. I live one day at a time with assurance and dependence upon God for guidance. My life is full as every mom’s is. I simply know my limitations and priorities now.
I have taken my hard-earned lessons and started writing a blog six years ago about motherhood and intentional living. I even began coaching others in time management. Me! The girl who always took on more than she could handle until life had her in a choke hold. I now help others learn how to cut back, assess their limitations and focus on what matters most. I’m even in the process of writing a book and an online course to bless moms with all the knowledge I’ve acquired and practiced. Can you believe it?
My transformation shows how God moves. He takes the Sauls of this world and makes them Pauls. It’s what He does. He’ll do it for you too. If you are swamped in the overwhelm of your life, know you don’t have to live this way forever. No matter the season of your motherhood or the number of commitments you have said, “yes” to, God can help you find your way through to the abundant, yet slower, life He intends you to live.
Patty writes to inspire and empower moms to love intentionally and make room for what matters most. She’s been married to her surfer/skater husband for over 20 years. They have two boys and a home full of neighbor kids most days. Patty’s life was transformed by Jesus. One of her deepest passions is walking with women as they heal and grow into greater intimacy with God.