It’s funny how God works sometimes. At the beginning of 2017 I started to feel like God wanted me to reprioritize my life, and refocus on myself a little. I was loving my work, my clients and employees; but my joy tank was feeling a little low. You see I’m an introvert, I love time in solitude. But, I also NEED real, deep and meaningful relationships with women in my life that challenge me to think, act and live the way God has called me to. So, I committed to a women’s Bible study at our church, and began to carve some time out of OH! to care for myself in the ways that I know make me feel joyful, purposeful and connected.
I was actually a little scared to carve out some time for myself during the day. I worried that I’d realize I wasn’t balancing my life the way I should and that God would call me to work less and be home more. I always knew my gifts and passions were around being a housewife and mother, and I was beginning to wonder if either of those roles were key factors in my identity anymore. Funny how God works, as I am realizing that God wasn’t nudging me away from OH! at all! He was reminding me of my passion and the priorities He has for me. God wanted to remind me that my joy is not in my circumstances, but in my confidence in Him and His purpose for my life. I know that I am doing what he has called me to, and even when it feels like nothing about my life is organized, I still have joy and contentment because I know that I am following His calling for me!
In recent months several opportunities have arisen for me to have this conversation with other women, and I am realizing the common struggle among us to find joy and purpose in a world that has so many expectations!
I recently went to a luncheon with an excellent speaker that talked about being busy. You may have been there, as it wasn’t a small affair! It was a very interesting topic – this notion that we have all become too busy and preoccupied. I recently did a study on the book “Present Over Perfect” as well. “Being too busy” seems to be one of the most common complaints and points of discussion among women today.
I’ve been giving it a lot of thought lately, is my busy bad? Everyone keeps talking about not being so busy. When people ask “how are you?” we don’t reply with “great” or “not good” – we say “I’m just so busy!” Well it’s true for many of us, but is that good or bad? Doing nothing is probably worse than being busy, but being busy with things we don’t care about is actually probably the worst thing of all.
I think it isn’t so much about how much we are doing. I think it is more about how much what we are doing is what we feel called to and passionate about. How focused and present are we for the things in our life that are our priorities?
We’ve all heard the analogy, you only have so much room on your plate. Well that is so true! But I’m realizing that it isn’t just about recognizing we have limits. You see, I’m a bit of a platter. I was born that way. My husband, well he’s more of a dessert plate. I think there are salad plates and dinner plates in the world too. I like a lot on my plate, multiple things whirling around in my head at all times. I said this to a friend and she said she would call me more of a smorgasbord. But I’m a happy smorgasbord!
Here lies the problem… when I compare my plate to the size of another person’s plate. Isn’t that so often our downfall… comparison. It is easy to think as a dessert plate that you are missing your purpose in life, failing to show up and be an active participant in your own life with the ability to impact the world around you. As a platter we hear that our culture is too busy, that we aren’t present as we rush about just being doers, that we need to stop doing so much and just be. No wonder so many of us have lost our joy. We are constantly looking at what others are doing that we aren’t. We feel like we should be doing more to volunteer, serve and mother. Or, we feel like we should be doing more to be present, still and available. No matter what, we feel like we should be doing more of something.
I also think it is worth noting that for some, attempting to not be too busy becomes another item on a never-ending “to do” list of all the things we think we should be doing and we’re not. Instead of finding peace and contentment in the life we were created to live we attempt to define our priorities by the standards of the world around us. Standards that change and are ill defined.
When I am still, and present and available I find myself doing things with and for others – those that I love. Things like puzzles, bike rides, longs walks and cooking special meals. When I am busy doing things that are tied to my priorities in life, I find myself doing things with and for others – those that I love. Things like leading my daughter’s Bible study, coaching my kids in soccer, enjoying date nights with my husband, or bonding with my core family and my church family on a mission’s trip.
Do you see what I see? I keep finding myself doing things with and for others – those that I love. That my friends brings me joy, much joy!
I think the key is not so much in being busy or less busy. We all have a different sized plate, and we need to define what kind of plate we are. Once we know what kind of plate we are we can determine what to fill that plate with. This is where I think defining our priorities is so important. If we have room for 3 things on our salad plate or 10 things on our platter, we will only find joy if they are the right things. Defining our gifts, passions and priorities allows us to fill our platter or plate with the things that bring us joy.
As we learn to be content with the size of our own plate, and fill it only with the things that God has called us to in our own lives, I believe we will find the peace and joy we are looking for!