If you find a way to balance two on top of each other and free up a hand, you reach down and grab another one. It’s never ending. It’s your routine. It’s your normal.
There are times in life when we load up heavy and do what we must to barrel through. We arrive, then, either by the skin of our teeth or in an amazing thunder of awesome triumph! We sigh the contented breath of relief and get back to a more balanced rhythm. It’s like the day of rushed errands and more to do ahead, so instead of making a few painless trips from the car to the house, you load up the grocery bags five per arm, two by each fist, and one more hinged in your pinky fingers. It’s a “One Trip Wonder” miracle as you somehow open the door with your knee and make it to the kitchen counter. Maybe you can identify with having some one month, three months, or six months’ wonder runs. We power through the struggles, sacrifices and pain because we know it’s for a time; it’s a planned madness with a clear end in sight.
There is another loaded type of life so similar on the surface to the One Trip Wonder, that it is quite dangerous. Often, those caught up in it exhibit the symptoms of the lifestyle, bear the scars, and exhale the toxic exhaustion, but can’t pin point the source. Or worse, they feel each effect in isolation and are unable to find causality. These people are loaded up in life with work, obligations, commitments and energy consuming luggage that continues on, and on, from one life season into the next. It becomes the normal. It becomes the way it was and is and will be. It’s like standing in a crowded place filled with people and packages and people holding suitcases. Every time you see one, you pick it up. Every time someone hands you one, you grab it. You keep taking more and more. If you finally set one down, another one is handed to you. If you find a way to balance two on top of each other and free up a hand, you reach down and grab another one. It’s never ending. It’s your routine. It’s your normal.
If we have so much already, why do we pick up more and take what is handed to us? I also wonder, why is it that we can’t see what we are doing, often when we can identify this behavior in others? As a woman, mother, wife and Christian, I ponder this through my own lens: it’s important to work hard. There is a lot at stake (and a lot to do) when you are responsible for others’ lives. It’s nice to help people. It’s noble to be self-sacrificing. It’s God-honoring to carry other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). There are endless causes and organizations that need help. Oh, and isn’t it a fact that you can’t criticize something if you aren’t involved in making it better? You may have some reasons to add to mine. Considering this, it seems almost impossible to avoiding an over-loaded life. So what do we do?
If we could find a definitive way to make sure that we are doing enough, but not doing too much, wouldn’t that feel nice? Someone could create an app for it, or maybe there could be just one self-help book that would finally make it all clear on how to order our lives. The perfect balance of saying YES and NO. But it’s just more complicated, isn’t it? We all have different levels of energy – what fills us and what drains us. We all have our different core values or world-views which shape our thoughts and influence our decisions. We also have our own patterns of thoughts and behaviors to deal with. Together, this makes each situation unique, because when we reach out to pick that up or take it from someone else, our energy, values, past experiences, thinking patterns all come in to play and advise our hand to either grab that thing, or leave it alone. We say yes because we want to please, struggle with false guilt, have a fix-it-all complex, or enjoy the rush of saving the day. We say yes and take it on, and then we, and those we love, pay for it dearly as we become impatient, resentful, over-stressed, anxious or neglectful, as we strive to accomplish everything.
If you can relate and want to learn how to let some things go, it’s time to get honest with yourself. If a quick fix worked, there would be just one self-help book, or there would be an app for that. Lasting change requires some reflection as well as some hard work. If you would like to engage in a first step, here are some powerful questions to think about:
There will be times of loading up our arms and charging through. But we are not designed physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually to continue on like that. Wayde Goodall bottom lines it for me: “If we don't control our schedule - our schedule will control us. If we don't find a way to live a balanced life -our lives will get out of balance.”
Kerri Goodman kerrigoodman.com