The last few months have been a struggle. Looking back on it, most of what has been difficult is the direct result of allowing our schedule to get too packed. This is a common theme with families in the spring. I think of how our Bible study group always dwindled as soon as sports and band concerts and graduation parties picked up. It’s just so hard to prioritize.
I’m a highly sensitive person which is both a blessing and a curse. I’m happy to befriend someone while waiting at the DMV. People tend to share things with me they maybe wouldn’t share with others. I can sense things. It makes me a good friend.
On the flip side, I’m sort of a sponge. I absorb other people’s emotions without trying. I can’t listen to someone’s story without sort of taking it on myself. And that’s really hard. I do my best to control my environment for the sake of my spirit, but still these busy seasons leave me spent -emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
And when I’m in that place. When I’m at my wit’s end, I’m not that nice to the people in my home. I’m impatient. I grumble and get frustrated. I yell.
Then, I lie in bed feeling guilty for the way I’ve treated those I love the most. It’s not their fault our schedule has no wiggle room.
So, what’s to be done?
1. Sometimes it's a season.
I wrote a post a few weeks back on Ecclesiastes because I was in a hard season and needed encouragement. This is a busy time and sometimes that’s okay. As long as it’s not permanent. When I need to pass someone on the highway, I’ll speed up to get around them, but once I’m back in the right lane, I slow down again. Some seasons are spent in the passing lane. We have to change our pace for a little while in order to get everything done. But it’s dangerous to keep driving in that lane. At some point, we need to return to the right lane and slow down.
2. Sometimes priorities are wrong.
Sometimes it’s not just a season. Sometimes it’s a problem with priorities. I remember someone doing an illustration at a camp I attended when I was a teenager. Chances are you’ve seen something like this before, but I think it’s a good reminder. The person had jar and he poured water into it. Then he poured sand in. Then he attempted to put rocks into the jar, but there wasn’t room. He explained that if we fail to prioritize the most important things (the rocks), we’ll fill our day with unimportant things and push out what we need most. He then emptied out the jar, placed the rocks inside. He said, these are the really important things. Honestly, the rocks are different for every person. For me, they tend to be things pertaining to my home, spirit, and body. I have to do laundry and make sure my family has groceries. I need time with God and I need to exercise. Otherwise, I can’t function. The sand layer are things that are less important. These are usually good things, but they can take too much prominence. Yes, it’s good to volunteer, but we often say "yes" to too much. We don’t need to attend every single event we are invited to. The sand layer tries to push out the rocks all the time. The last one is the water. These things are completely unnecessary. They’re social media. Dumb TV. Time-wasters that we think will give us rest, but never deliver. We should skip the water all together.
3. Sometimes we’re using the wrong strength.
A verse that keeps coming to mind for me is Proverbs 3:5-6.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.”
When I think of times when I’m struggling, I’m usually out of synch with this. I trust in me. I lean on my own understanding. I hold tightly to everything and refuse to submit. And my paths are crooked. They’re winding and fraught with thorny vines and poison ivy. God promises something here that we all desire. A straight path. Think about what a path is. It’s a place that’s worn down because others have already walked it. God is inviting us on a straight path that he’s already walked. The way to find that path is to trust Him. Lean on His perfect understanding and submit to Him. I don’t know about you, but that gives me confidence.
If you’re also in a season with a crooked path, take a minute and ask yourself:
Do I need to trust God more?
Do I need to prioritize better?
Do I need to wait out the season?
Maybe it’s a combination of these. It certainly is for me. I pray that you will find the straight path and get the rest you need to be effective and settled. I want that for you. God wants that for you. Lean into his understanding.