I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. ~ John Burroughs
I rediscovered something about myself: I’m human. Seems silly right? But the inner superwoman in me hates to admit it. Not only do I hate to admit it, but it really irks me to have to stand back, and evaluate the things that I’m pursuing so I can maintain some sort of sanity. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The past several months have been insane. I think one of my late-night, bonus-time quotes says it best: “Some days are like isometric exercise. You feel like you're pushing against a brick wall, but really you're building muscle.” However, in this season of my life I haven’t felt as though I’m pushing the wall as much as I am trying to just hold it up and keep it from falling on my head. It takes a lot for me to feel overwhelmed. Genuinely, thoroughly, overwhelmed. But I reached that point and realized that I had to do something about it.
You want to know one of my most poignant barometer checks? Even in the areas of my life that are going well, I have only been meeting expectations. Why is that bad? Because I don’t meet expectations, I exceed them. I love to do that unexpected thing that takes something from good to great. As they say in Cajun country: “Lagniappe” -- doing a little bit extra. But I haven’t had that little bit extra to give. The wall hasn’t fallen. I’m still tenaciously holding it up. But my arms have been shaking and I haven’t been making headway.
A friend gave me a fantastic mental image (warning: geek moment ahead) – It is possible to run so many applications on your computer, that even though it has the system resources to do them all, it dramatically slows down the response time. You can even end up crashing your system, though in theory you’re staying within its capabilities. – This has been one of my mental struggles. I can do all this things. I have the capability. In theory, I even have the time. But my friend gently pointed out that perhaps my system would run better if I wasn’t juggling so many open applications.
Spurred by a school assignment and a great conversation, I revisited my mission statement and core values. Then I did a mental tally of the things that are drawing at my time, and made list of the things that are currently closest to my heart.
(By the way – It’s really powerful to take some time and really articulate those things for yourself. What *do* you want your life to say? What are the values you want to direct your life? …and Does your life accurately reflect the pursuit of them?)
I discovered that some of my most energy drawing obligations weren’t at the top of the list.
Amazing, right? I'm a puppy who forgot what she was supposed to be chasing. (Which is easy because this puppy has lots of natural talent and a nearly insatiable curiosity).
In any case…How does a woman who is an overachiever, who knows she *can* do all these things, deal with her pride and expectations, and make some changes?
My favorite birthday card reminds me to “live deep.” But I can only grow deep roots by trimming back branches. Don’t get me wrong. I like my branches. But a tree can only take so much energy from the soil, and those nutrients can only go so far. Which is better, quantity or quality of fruit? (Rhetorical question).
As any scrap booker knows, cropping pictures is hard. (I’m looking at cropping as a type of pruning. You know…getting rid of the excess to get to the heart of the image? Run with it, ok?) Part of your mind is scared that you’ll mess up the cut, or that you’ll end up wanting more of the picture later. And once you make that cut, there’s no going back. It’s a commitment.
So what if I choose to cut and prune the wrong things? Because once I set some things in motion, there’s no going back. (Well, there might be, but it would take some doing…).
Insert gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit here in the form of a ‘verse of the day’ – “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:12
Grant me a willing spirit. I don’t think the phrasing of that verse is arbitrary. I, for one, need to be “granted” a willing spirit. Willing to pause. Willing to examine. Willing to prune. Willing to admit limitation. Willing to change my pursuit. That’s a lot of willingness. But what’s amazing is that when I do ask, God always follows through.
So I prayed. And listened. And cut. …and I’ve gone from feeling frantic, to feeling peaceful. I’m not exactly back to normal yet, but I am being restored.
That isn’t to say that I’m slowing down. I still plan on giving all I have. But I want to give where it matters. I want to deeply invest in those things that made it to the top of my list. I am cutting away the excess to get back to the heart of the collage that is my life.
Now, I’m self-aware enough to know that it will be a challenge to keep my prioritized focus, and to not be too hard on myself from backing down from some things. But that’s the power of a personal road map. I can always return to that mission statement and those core values to see if I’m on the right path. And let’s face it; a road map is only good if you follow it. (And if you have the humility to redirect once you realize you’ve gone off course.)
So there you have it. I am not a superwoman. But I am a driven woman. And thanks to some faithful anchors and some uncomfortable cuts, this puppy is on the right track again.