As much as I look forward to the autumn season after a laid-back summer, I often find myself totally overwhelmed and burned out by October. This year, I really felt God preparing my heart for a different approach. Specifically, He was emphasizing that the peace of our home is often up to me as a wife and mother. Every family member plays a role in the overall atmosphere, but I’ve noticed that my mood can literally dictate the ambiance of our sanctuary. Things that can assault your peaceful environment can sneak in, especially this time of year. Our culture promotes busyness like it’s a badge of honor, something to be proud of—and if you aren’t signed up for a hundred different things then there is something wrong with you. Social media definitely perpetuates this because we are shown all the highlight reels but none of the chaos that ensues between each glorious picture of how amazing everyone seems to be doing and all the things they are involved in.
Let me tell you something that I’m noticing: this is killing marriages and families.
Literally. I sound dramatic, but it’s true! Families are so busy shuffling here and there, being involved in this hobby or that commitment that the idea of a family dinner or actual conversation and connection with your spouse (and children if you have them) is falling to the wayside. Our relationships (the only thing that counts for anything in the long run) are suffering due to the distractions that scream for our attention and our own addiction to productivity, self-focus, and instant gratification. Fear of missing out, seeking the approval of others, trying to find your identity in something or someone other than Christ, pursuits of fleeting happiness, and a focus on the temporal instead of the eternal are all roots to this dilemma. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on earthly things.” Busyness is the exact enemy of this Scripture because we are too focused on the things that won’t really matter in long-term.
A couple of months ago, the Lord showed me that no one is looking at my to-do list but me. No one knows if I get everything on it done or not and that these things that I make life or death in my head are nothing of the sort. The anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed were completely self-induced.
This became even more evident when I became pregnant and was super sick all the time. Panic set in because just to get through a normal day took everything I had. Simple tasks like going to the grocery store, making meals, and trying to homeschool made me want to cry. However, what I discovered in that process was both humbling and freeing. My kids were thrilled to have me be still on the couch so they could read and snuggle with me. Peanut butter sandwiches and smoothies sustained them just fine. My oldest was still learning and growing in school, and all the things on my “important list” were still waiting for me a month later (and no one died).
It turns out I’m not nearly as important as I think I am. Ha! What a relief! Like Martha in the Bible, Jesus was inviting me to sit at His feet like Mary, which is the better thing. I needed to get back to the basics. Get back to delighting in Him and loving and serving my family with His grace and strength.
Take it off your plate.
I read something from a wonderful book called Teaching from a Place of Rest that said: “if there is anything that is robbing you of peace, it needs to be cut out.” Peace needs to be a pre-requisite of your home, not an option. There is a commercial on the Christian radio station I listen to that says chaos is Satan’s signature and that peace is Jesus’ signature. Is chaos, stress, tension, and feelings of being overwhelmed the undertone of your home right now? Or is peace, love, and joy? If it’s the former and not the latter, it’s time to sit down and answer a tough question: what needs to go? Your list of accomplishments and achievements are not worth risking your relationships. Seemingly innocent things, even “good” things aren’t good if they take you away from what the Lord has entrusted to you.
So, I’ve started to say no to things. I don’t even give excuses. If it is going to put me in a tizzy, take me away from my kids or spouse too often, or put any of us under unnecessary stress, the answer is no. It’s been so liberating! And guess what? No one’s really noticed! Except for us, and it’s been a delightful change. My husband, Dominic, said that when he drove away the other morning, he smiled because our home was full of peace and his kids and wife were full of smiles. It set the tone for his day. This filled me with such gratitude for what the Lord had put on my heart and the ways He had done it! First, with the to-do list. Then with a daily reminder of Colossians 3 for weeks about focusing on the eternal and not the temporary. Next, with our pregnancy and the limitations it forced on me. These very “limitations” ended up leading to the discovery of some very real freedoms. Isn’t that just like the Lord?
One last thing:
I had a friend post last week that we are human be-ings, not do-ings. My challenge to you this season is to be still before God. Ask Him to prioritize the things in your life that need to stay and highlight the things that need to go. It’s in the stillness where He talks to us. It’s the margin we have in our lives that gives room for God to move and work on our behalf and others. Get off the guilt and shame train about doing more and be brave enough to do less and rest in your identity in Christ and who He says you are—beloved, saved, redeemed, righteous, a child of the Most High God.
You already have His approval. You’re already loved. You don’t have to earn these things, and you don’t have to earn the approval of others. In fact, it says in Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Dr. Caroline Leaf says if it’s not going to matter five years from now, don’t give it more than five minutes of your time. Give yourself the gift of letting go and spend the very precious energy you have each day on serving and loving others. Not only does this restore peace and joy, but the impact of it will also last way more than five years from now.
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