Once upon a time, I took an immense amount of pride in having an impossibly packed schedule. I was always leading something, on my way somewhere, working on something, meeting with someone, or volunteering someplace. When someone asked how I was doing, it stroked my ego to gush, “Oh! I’m just SO busy!” or “I’ve got SO much going on!” I wanted people to be envious of how much I was capable of doing.
You know where that got me?
Utterly. Burnt. Out.
Also, utterly un-dependent on God. I was running my life my way, thank you very much. He fit in when I led Bible study on Wednesday nights and flew off to my leaders’ meeting afterwards, went to Challenge on Thursday nights, and dragged myself to church on Sunday. Other than that? I made the calls on how I spent my time. I was doing good things, but I was making God fit into my schedule…not the other way around.
About a year ago, the Lord graciously slapped me upside the head with this idea:
(I say “graciously” because it’s in His love that He shows us hard things)
After Hans and I got married, I realized I needed to lean deep into Jesus in order to have a relationship with my husband that glorified Him. Marriage was going to take time…to enjoy each other and to work hard at our relationship, and we made the decision to “take our first year off“. My priorities shifted because God was leading me to a new place in life.
My chaotic schedule cleared up. God and I have time together in the mornings. Hans and I have date nights. I get enough sleep and exercise. I have time to read. We don’t eat out a lot because we have time to make healthy meals. We spend time with people we love. We’re not perfect at this, but we really like how it’s going so far.
So, how do you shift from busy to calm in the area of your schedule?
1. What are the things that God has called you to?
Above all else, He’s calling you to have a relationship with Him. After that, there are probably only a handful of “main things” He has called you to do. Matthew 11:30 tells us that His burden is easy and His yoke is light. If you’re overcommitted, you might be taking on more than He intended. Ask: What roles has He placed you in? What ideas keep you up at night? What fires will not die inside your heart?
2. Main the main things the main things.
Once you know what God has called you to – being a student, spouse, parent, small business owner, ministry leader, whatever! – and what He has given you a passion for – writing a book, singing in the choir, fixing dirt bikes, abolishing sex trafficking, whatever it is! – go and do those things, and cut out as much “extra” as you can. Focus on the essential, and eliminate the excess.
3. Say no.
Create firm boundaries for yourself. No, I won’t go to that thing because it interferes with my date night with my husband. No, I won’t sign up for that event because I haven’t had a weekend of rest in three months. No, I won’t lead that group because I need time for X thing that God has given me a passion for. It’s ok to say no, even to good things! Just because someone asks, doesn’t mean you have to say yes.
I won’t go into organization here, but suffice to say that a good planner system (paper or smartphone app) really does help keep a schedule simplified as well!
What are ways that you can simplify your schedule? How do you want to do that?
P.S. – Want to remind yourself to “Stop the Glorification of Busy”? Download the phone or computer wallpaper here.