As 2019 started, I felt a call to simplicity and focus. This season of my life is slowly changing and I want to move forward with focus, direction and purpose. Simplicity comes from my desire to not over complicate things, over do it, push beyond what is necessary. Keep it simple. Stay focused. What does that look like for me? Honestly, it means more quiet mornings at home with my three year old where we practice the ABCs, sing “5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” and read books. It means helping my kids stay focused with their new chores and learning responsibility. It should mean less going here and there and everywhere. And this month, I did not succeed at this goal.
I did the math yesterday. In January, I had 22 days in a row of always having to be somewhere for something. That means showering, being presentable, putting on my game face, on the go. As an introvert this kind of a pace drains me. I realized this week that I was deeply exhausted. The kind of a exhausted that comes from a three year who couldn’t sleep through the night, but also a deep soul tired that ached behind my eyes. I felt like I could cry at a moments notice for no reason. I kept kicking myself for all the things I said and did wrong. And then I realized that I was spent. I wasn’t giving the best of myself anymore.
I’ve been pondering lately about what it means to be slow to speak (this does tie in, I promise). The Bible says that a fool can be considered wise if he keeps his mouth shut. As someone who would like to be a wise soul someday, I’ve been thinking about what it means to keep quiet more and being slow to speak. It’s hard because I’ve conditioned through years of being a ministry leader to fill in the quiet, slow moments of conversation with more words. I am the one with the weight of keeping the conversation going on my shoulders. I have play dates, lunch dates, coffee dates, ministry opportunities and social gatherings and all I do is talk, talk, talk. While I do all of these things with people I care for, at the end of the day I am sick of my own voice and worried I put my foot in my mouth all the live long day. It doesn’t help that I am an Enneagram Type 1 who is constantly striving for perfection and then being berated by my inner critic for never measuring up.
My mistake in January was to overload my calendar. I was gone for a week on a trip and that displaced time I would have spent meeting with people, getting stuff done, etc. When I came home, I went about doing all the things I didn’t do when I was gone on top of the usual things I still needed to do that month. I left no margin and I can’t be my best self without down time.
Today, I am home in my pajamas, unshowered and I don’t plan on leaving my house. I don’t need every day to be like this, but I need days like this more than once a month. I need to be off the hook. My husband has a big work weekend a head and instead of being absent from the kids, he took them with him today to prep for the weekend. The boys will play alongside Jeremy while he was works. They will even be helpful off and on because Jeremy is so good about pulling them into the family mission. He will explain why he is serving our community. And in the process of giving our boys time with their dad on a busy weekend, he has given me a few hours of silence where all I hear is the dishwasher running. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
I realize that if I slow down and don’t over pack my schedule, I will use my words more wisely. I won’t be overly tired and talk to just fill the void. I will be purposeful. When I rest, I can give a better version of myself to those I care about. I have friends that I want to spend one on one time with, play dates for my kiddos where I am equally social with the mom who sits on the couch across from me, we have families we want to invite into our home and share meals with. All these things are good. So good. Deeply good. Community is a gift, a treasure. But I want to love my friends and family well then I need to take care of myself. It’s the oxygen mask on the airplane scenario.
I am looking at my February and wondering how I will make this month different. I have plans made and people I want to spend time with. Instead of feeling the rush to do things as soon as possible, I have plans scattered throughout the month. Unintentionally, this next coming week looks a little quieter, with one free day still open. As easy as it would be to slip a friend into that vacancy, I won’t. I’m putting it in print here. Hold me accountable. If someone wants to schedule something with me, they will have to be okay with me offering dates a few weeks out. And I will have to be okay with that too. It doesn’t mean I don’t love them. I want to spend time with all my people. But the quality of that time will compromised if I don’t slow down. Let the mantra of stay focused and keep it simple ring in ears, my head and my heart. Slow down, stay focused, keep it simple.
I can’t do everything, but what I decide to do can be done with love, intention and given from the best of me. I just need to make space for that version of me to exist. I need margin. I need breathing room. And truthfully, I probably need a nap. Amen.
I am curious what fills you up when you have moments of margin. Here are the things I find myself doing when I have quiet moments:
- Reading (My Bible and recent reads: The Cozy Minimalist & The Ministry of Ordinary Places)
- Cleaning (vacuuming is good for my soul)
- Watching TV (my entertainment choices as of late are Hallmark Channel and Road to Avonlea – both are super homey, cheesy and don’t take a lot of thought to process)
- Bubble Baths