My check engine light has been on for a little over a week now. It totally stresses me out because I commute an hour to work and the last thing I want is to break down on the side of the freeway. Not because of the scary being-stuck part, but because I don’t have time for that. My days are so jammed packed there is not a second more for anything unexpected. I know I need to take care of the car, but I just can’t seem to find the time to take it into the shop. I know that if I stop long enough to look under the hood, I might find that it is going to take more time than I have to spare to fix it and it may cost me.
Sometimes my mind wanders to the blissful thought, “What if I could clone myself and there’d be two of me to get all the things done?! That’d solve everything!” But who am I kidding? I’d run her into the ground too.
No, the problem isn’t solved by simply changing my schedule. It’s deeper than that–it’s a matter of the heart and my priorities. Right now, my life isn’t reflecting either one. I know that if I don’t make the time to take care of myself, and take time to really take a look at things, I may end up breaking down myself. But just like my car, it’s going to take some work to fix and it might cost me.
I started the year with prayerfully adopting the word “intentional” as my word for 2019. I wanted (and still want) to be intentional about my priorities and my time. But slowly, my resolve has faded as each day the urgent things have pressed in. One thing after another has taken over–they aren’t all bad things or even things I can control. But because I haven’t left any wiggle room for the unexpected, I now find myself spread thin and worn out with my own mental “check engine” light flashing.
Proverbs 27:19 says “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”
I know the priorities that God has laid on my heart. I’m in a rare and blessed season of knowing what I’m supposed to be doing and what God has called me to. I also know that I’ve let busyness become my master, and it’s reflected in my life. The space that had one been reserved for the important things, has been taken over by the urgent things. I spend a lot of time dealing with what’s right in front of me, instead of planning ahead and having the peace that comes from being intentional with how I use my time.
And yes, there are times that we just have to get the things done. Busy seasons come and go. But when the busy never lets up so that you can no longer give your best, it’s time to re-evaluate how you are spending your time, as well as your physical and mental energy. There is always something that can be put down. Maybe it’s a volunteer opportunity, or an extra project. Perhaps it is working just an hour less per day, and trusting that God will help make up that little bit of income. Maybe it is asking for help catching up on housework or having someone watch your kiddos so you can take a nap. For me it’s crossing out a whole Saturday so that I can just rest and spend time with my family.
If you are not sure where to even begin, start by bringing your schedule and your day before the Lord. Ask Him to reveal to you what He would like you to focus on and accomplish that day. Pray and ask for discernment to see the things that might be good but not best–those things that take away time from doing what is most important. He will give you the strength to lay those down.
It’s not just the to-do list or the schedule that sometimes needs pruning. Our minds are powerful machines that can threaten our peace and rest if we do not learn to shut them off when its time. Think about what thought or worry might be consuming more of your brain space than is good for you. Pray about it. Imagine wrapping it up neatly and placing it in God’s capable hands so that He can carry it for a bit. He promises when we come to Him for rest, we will find it (Matthew 11:28). Sometimes I even need to ask myself, “Does the fate of the free world rest on this?” If the answer is no, then I let it go.
I want my life to reflect my heart and the priorities that God has laid out for me. I want to be able to have the awareness to see where He is at work, and the time to join Him in it. I want my family to feel seen, heard and loved. I’m not always great at keeping that balance, but there is grace for that. Please know that we don’t have to fix it all on our own. Our gentle Heavenly Father is waiting to renew and restore our strength. He will grant the clarity and wisdom we need to know where to press on and where to let go.
Dear friend, if you are feeling overwhelmed and frazzled, spread too thin with your “check engine” light flashing, it’s time to pause and pray. Pick one thing that you can do today to take care of yourself. With God’s guidance, start working toward a life that reflects your heart and the God-given priorities you have in this season. Breathe in and feel your shoulders relax as you exhale. Lean into the strong arms of our Lord and see what He can carry for you. He will not drop you or leave you, and His strength, endurance, love and grace are inexhaustible.