Your best "yes" requires a difficult "no".
Read that again.
Everything halted in March, causing us to pause our busy schedules and essentially go from 100 to 0. I don't think that was a mistake.
There was a quote floating around that essentially stated when things begin to return to normal, we need to consider what parts of normal are worth returning to. This idea hit me hard, but also inspired me to think about what aspects of my life needed attention and what aspects I needed to walk away from.
Ironically, as things are slowly returning to normal, I yet again find myself in the position of going 100 miles an hour, investing in a variety of spaces, the feeling of being overwhelmed slowly creeping in.
I sat at home the other day listening to our church's sermon and needless to say I think this sermon was written for me. Our pastor went over how we all have the same amount of time in each day - there is no time left over. He also said "as we add things to our schedule, we also need to subtract." Yikes.
I thought about this and asked myself "why do I continually find myself in this position?" I can point back to times in my life where I was over-involved, pulled back, felt like I wasn't doing enough, and ultimately looped back into being spread too thin. Personally, I think the major reason I find myself in this spot continually is because of my personality. I love to be involved, to help others, to spend time with others, and truly, I have FOMO, or fear of missing out. (FOMO isn't just a thing for college kids y'all.) If my day job could be solely loving on people by hanging out with them, doing things for them, etc. - I would do it in a heartbeat. But that doesn't pay the bills. Moreover, I *actually* can do this in my day job.
The more I thought and prayed through what to do next, the Lord began highlighting three key things I wanted to share in this post: recognizing a change needs to happen, the effects of being over involved, and what to do next.
First things first: how do we know if we are over booking ourselves? Well, I presume schedules are different for everyone, but generally you might be overbooked if your life looks like any of the following:
little to no free nights/time in your schedule
being involved in more than 2-3 groups, clubs, weekly activities
no full day to take rest
little to no time to do your favorite activities or hobbies
It's easy to identify busy schedules in other people's lives, but I often find it difficult to identify this within ourselves. Be honest with yourself - did you say yes to any or all of the above listed points? If so, I encourage you to really lean in and think about what I'm going to say next.
Being involved is great. It's a lot more fun than doing nothing. But God tells us to be more than He tells us to do. Don't get me wrong, we are called to certain things based on our gifts and that requires action. Before we "do" we must first "be". Be like Jesus; be still; listen; be faithful.
When we focus too much on "doing" we lose consistency, connection, and pursuing what is best for us.
Being over involved requires a lot of time. Meaning there is less time in our days and weeks to focus on building community. It's difficult to grow deeper connections when we can't consistently provide time for people. When we try to spend time with different people every week, it ends up taking several weeks - months even - to see everyone, making building community less effective.
It also affects how we best use our skills and gifts for the sake of the gospel. I launched this website in February and if you saw what it looked like at the beginning, you saw several different avenues: health and wellness, home decor, recipes, events, and blogging. Truth is, I love all of these things, but I learned keeping every one of these tabs up to date was not feasible. Eventually, I decided to focus on two aspects: event planning and writing/blogging. Why? Because I know my gifts are best used in these two aspects and I would have a far better reach and impact focusing more time and effort on two aspects than half heartedly focusing on 4-5 aspects.
If you've come to realize while reading this that you need to take a step back on a few things, don't panic. It can be scary to step away and focus on a few things - but it will be way less stress on you and will make a bigger impact.
I can't tell you what you need to focus on and what you need to let go of, but here are some tips for figuring it out:
Pray often and seek advice of trusted friends and mentors, but pray first.
Think about your unique gifts, skills and passions. What are you involved in that best uses these?
Where are you growing the most? Where do you feel fulfilled? Where do you feel drained?
As you change and grow, so do your needs and involvement. What was a good use of your time a few years ago, may not be now.
I'll leave with this piece of advice from a trusted mentor that was too good not to share:
We all need a Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy in our lives. We need a Paul to mentor us; Barnabas to do life with, and a Timothy to pour into. Your Barnabas needs to be the key focus: they will be your people to grow with, do community with, and spend time with. Your Paul and Timothy may be people you come across at work, lead in a group, study with in the library, or simply call on a random Tuesday. It looks different for everybody - and that's okay. Your best yes will require a difficult no, but it will allow you to connect with the right people and pursue the best path.