October 10, 2012
A One-Cup Life
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens ..." Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)
Flour dusted shirts, sticky hands and happy faces gathered in my kitchen for an afternoon of baking. The counters were covered with bowls, spoons and ingredients as my young daughters eagerly helped with the culinary creation we were assembling.
Part of the learning process involved reading the recipe, getting out ingredients and gathering utensils. So when the recipe called for 1-1/2 cups of milk, I directed one girl to get the two-cup measuring cup from the cabinet. She made it to the right cabinet, but picked out the one-cup measuring cup instead.
Instead of correcting, I showed my daughters how to make that size work. But I also wanted them to learn why we had to make the change. I wanted them to learn that you can't put 1-1/2 cups of liquid into a 1-cup container.
As I thought about this principle of measurement, I realized it doesn't work with milk and it doesn't work in life. Yet so many of us try to cram 12 hours of work into 8 hours of our day. We have more books than can fit in the bookcase and more clothes than closet.
We say "yes" to more activities than we have time, and take on more responsibilities than we have the energy to manage. Then we wonder why we can't find a healthy balance to life.
For years I tried to put too much into my schedule. "Yes" slipped off my tongue with little thought and no prayer. I'd collapse at night, exhausted and annoyed.
The priorities of my family and home were neglected in my over-busy life. It was an exhausting way to live, as I constantly felt like I should be doing something. And when I was doing something, it never felt like enough.
It's defeating to believe you are always disappointing someone ... especially God.
One day I decided to write down everything I had to do on one piece of paper ... which turned in to two. I included phone calls to make, emails to send, projects to start and others to finish. The list included things I needed to do that day and things I needed to do in a month. It included ongoing responsibilities like grocery shopping and one-time events like coordinating the t-shirt sales at my children's schools each fall.
It was painful and overwhelming. But it was also a relief. Once all my responsibilities were in one place, the problem was obvious. I was trying to fit 1-1/2 cups worth of responsibilities into my 1-cup life. It would never all fit, and I would never find balance or peace.
My life had to be simplified, which meant reducing the demands on my time. A year of cutting commitments resulted in a manageable, more focused and more productive life. It took making hard decisions, but it was worth the peace I gained.
That year I learned I have exactly enough time to do what God wants me to do. No more. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens" (NIV). The key to balance is seeking God's will for me in this season, and not spending time on assignments meant for other people.
I'll probably always struggle with over-committing myself due to my personality. But with God's wisdom and an updated master list of all my commitments, I get ongoing reality checks. And although I'm not really good at math, I do remember that 1-1/2 cups of something will never fit in a 1-cup container.
Dear Lord, You have uniquely created me and equipped me for the service You've determined. And yet so many times I try to take on responsibility that's not mine. Help me to be content with my assignment and to work at it joyfully. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Visit Glynnis' blog for a checklist to help determine God's will for you in this season of your life.
Want to learn how to balance your busy life? I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer is full of inspiration, ideas and life-changing principles to get you there!
Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace in Your Chaotic World by Tracie Miles
Reflect and Respond:
What are some reasons women over-commit themselves?
Consider those responsibilities over which you have control. Which ones should be pruned from your schedule?
Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." (NIV)
1 Peter 5:8, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (NIV)
© 2012 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Wednesday, 10 October 2012.