I am the queen of doing too much! Maybe you can relate?
-Great ideas flood my mind ALL THE TIME!
-I tend to overcommit, as part of my people-pleaser complex (it’s been a slow journey but I’m growing out of it more and more every day).
-My hand inevitably raises high when a new project comes up at work.
-I’m quick to offer a gift of time to help others – especially when it comes to building their business (I have a soft-spot for entrepreneurs).
And if you take each one separately (and even together, in moderation), they are not inherently bad. The issues creep in though when they deter from what should be the main thing(s).
Back in November, God revealed to me my word for the year. (Do you have one yet? If not, check out the guide to getting your word for 2020. It’s not too late to hear from him!) My word for 2020 is FREEDOM. In the months since receiving this word I’ve studied scriptures that relate to the freedom that we have through Christ. They were all really good. Yet, I focused in on, and adopted as this year’s theme verse, Psalm 119:45. It states, “I will walk in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.”
What spoke to me most in this scripture was the promise and the process (hint: that’s how God operates – He gives a promise and then reveals the process for realizing it in our lives). See the promise I’m holding on to for 2020 (and really the entire decade) is being able to walk in freedom. There’s a spiritual freedom, a liberty, ease and privilege, that results from being covered under God’s grace through Jesus. That freedom enables, empowers, unleashes and changes the rules of the game, because of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. That is the promise.
The process for realizing this freedom comes from a posture of obedience and submission – a desire to do His will. The scripture says, “I have sought out your precepts”. Simply put, I am devoting myself to following his word, his commands and his will for my life. It isn’t an overnight transformation usually. There may be missteps and failings along the way. But the desire to live in a manner consistent with his word is the ultimate goal.
So, I entered the new year with the expectation of experiencing freedom in various aspects of my life:
- Financial Freedom: developing more disciplined spending, saving and investment habits, eliminating debt, developing multiple streams of revenue in order to contribute substantially to the eventual care of my father (he’s still very active but when the time does come I don’t want any of us to have to struggle to ensure he is taken care of) and the financing of my niece and nephews college educations.
- Relational Freedom: faithfully practicing mutual submission in all my significant relationships, engaging in relationships filled with accountability fueled by love, lifelong marriage and partnership (yep, I’m still praying for “Mr. Right” and I’m not mad at you if you join me in that prayer, lol)
- Missional Freedom: being actively and intentionally involved in carrying out God’s mission through relationships, exploring new ways to build God’s kingdom and share the truth and beauty of the gospel with others
- Mental and Emotional Freedom: letting go of harmful mindsets (scarcity, good enough, imposter syndrome), letting go of fear and timidity and healing from past hurts
Well, over the last 2 weeks I came face-to-face with my first challenge of claiming freedom. And it didn’t neatly fit into the categories I mentioned above. The freedom I’m currently pursuing was hinted at from 4-5 different sources, all pointing in the same direction. I need (and desperately crave) to be free from the addiction of busyness. As I mentioned, I overschedule. I overcommit. I overcrowd my schedule. Why? I’m addicted to being busy. The sad thing is, it is usually being busy with work.
A few weeks ago I was offered a position to work Sunday evenings doing logistics support for a church in DC. I love operations, planning and ensuring excellent execution. I love working in ministry and networking. Perfect, right? I mean, what else am I doing on a Sunday night?
I was going to say yes. But then I started thinking about it and realized, just because I can fit it in my schedule, does that mean I should? The couple extra dollars I’d earn, did it really offset the cost of my sanity? Is it the best thing for me to do (especially when I’m already building a business and working in ministry)? And if we are earnestly praying for that husband, I need to be sure I have some free-time to be available to date this “Mr. Right?” when he comes along. So, with no regrets, I said no.
Fast forward to last Sunday. It was a big day at church (which required me putting in a lot more hours than usual to prepare for it). I came home that day, excited about what our team accomplished and what the day meant for our church’s ministry to our city. My dad, responded to my excitement with a convicting suggestion – to do something for myself. See, my tendency is to relax/nap on Sunday evenings and then get back on the computer and work on one of my many projects.
Honestly, I don’t even really know how to do self-care well. I’m usually the one who rolls my eyes at all the listicles about self-care ideas. In spurts I do okay with self-care. But as an ongoing, sustainable practice, I need some help. On Sunday though, I did something I enjoyed. I cooked. Nice small step to kind of turn off my mind, relax and just enjoy being.
Monday as I connected with my business bestie (if you are an entrepreneur and you don’t have business bestie, you need to get one!) I recounted my weekend. I was actually surprised when I realized since we’d last talked I’d actually had a life outside of work. I connected with a friend from college as we enjoyed Alexandria restaurant week. I even had an impromptu date with an eligible bachelor (that doesn’t happen often in my world; and almost as an extra reminder from God about how much I don’t take the time to slow down, this guy commented on how career-focused I am and how it seems my time is always taken).
But, it was interesting to note, how different my mood was as a result of taking time to reconnect with a friend, do something unplanned and also have an evening that was focused on taking care of and connecting with self. Even in the midst of a really intense period at work I was intentional in some cases, and open and spontaneous in others, to let go of the busyness and instead be present and enjoy the time spent with others and myself.
These were good freedom moments. Ones I want to enjoy more often. So, I’m embracing learning (or maybe just re-learning) this lesson and prioritizing the peace and joy that can come from being free from busyness. Sure, there are times when life will be busy. But it shouldn’t be all the time. And as my dad put it, we high achievers need to find time to be still, rest and rejuvenate. The Lord invites us to find rest, peace and refreshment in him and his presence that can reside in our midst.
This wasn’t the lesson I thought we’d start with when thinking about a year of FREEDOM. I’m certain it won’t be the last time I have the opportunity to pick peace and rest over busyness of work and projects. Unfortunately I may misstep in the future. Yet, I feel like the freedom is work the discipline and openness to say no to my flesh (begging me to take on yet another task) and instead flow in the freedom of taking care of me in the ways and at the times that I need to.
I mentioned spending time with friends, cooking and times of just being still. What are 1 or 2 of your favorite self-care practices? Perhaps we can form together a listicle that will actually be motivating and inspire some beneficial and life-restoring self-care practices. Find the “Freedom Lessons” thread on Instagram or Facebook and drop me a comment. I’d love to hear how you ensure you are preserving your wellbeing.