We all wear multiple hats… we play various roles in life. For me, those primary roles are (in no particular order): wife, student, friend, daughter, sister, adoption counselor, counseling intern, homemaker, volunteer, small group coach and church staff member. My identity as a growing follower of Jesus is an umbrella over all of those things, guiding the direction, decisions and motivation for each of my roles… but even that takes time and attention to maintain and grow.
Sometimes everything seems to work well together, each taking a general give and take, allowing one to be more important at times than another. And that’s reality… sometimes being a friend trumps being a worker – a friend might need a little extra time and attention during a crisis that should take precedence over the tasks of work… and sometimes it’s vice versa… The difficulty is when all of those roles seem to demand the same intensity of attention, time and effort. Often, that happens when I don’t allow myself to say “no.” And, sometimes there are just those seasons that are inevitable… everything simply seems to happen all at once… and that seems to be my current season. (For example: I started this blog almost two weeks ago and it’s taken me until today to get back to completing it since everything else on my plate had higher priority.)
So what do you do when everything collides? What do you do when all roles are demanding all the time? What do you do when time for self-care, peace and quiet and relaxation is difficult to come by? What do you do when the light at the end of the tunnel seems so far away?
Step One: STOP and take a DEEP breath. Nothing can compare to the power of prayer. Remember that God is able to do more than you can imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and offers a rest for your burdens that is unparalleled (Matthew 11:28). The time you take to focus on God’s goodness and mercy and strength and power is essential. You’ll never make it without Him. The days I ignore time in prayer and Scripture are the days I feel the most exhausted and defeated.
Step Two: Prioritize. Even though everything seems to be of utmost importance, there still can be some organization to help you keep your sanity. Establish or name deadlines… make your calendar and to-do list specific with plans and goals. It is times like this that organization and careful planning/scheduling is vital. Decide on the essentials and if anything can be dropped. The essentials are things that cannot be forgotten, the things that just have to be done. All the other stuff may need to be adjusted and possibly even let go. And, if you are spending regular time in prayer and Scripture, the Holy Spirit will help you discern these things. If you’ve already done that and you’re still overwhelmed with everything on your to-do list, find someone to help. Maybe that’s getting someone to help with specific tasks, maybe that’s getting someone to listen to your chaos and help give some perspective on your priorities, maybe that’s getting someone to commit to encouraging and praying for you in this season. Just don’t do it alone!
Step Three: Remember that it’s a season. This too shall pass. Even though the light at the end is small… there IS a light. Find what works for you in these crazy times and do more of it. For example, if regular yoga helps to ease the stress/tension, make it one of the essentials. If ending work at a certain time in the day keeps you from lashing out at your loved ones, make a point to keep that a priority.
Tomorrow’s a new day, with a new to-do list, and I’m sure something that will be unexpected… here’s to pressing on (Philippians 3:12-14)…