Sara and I asked our good friend Paige (some of you will remember her story about creating community from episode eight of the podcast) to share some of her thoughts on slowing down, our theme here at Being Women for the month of August.
Girlfriend delivered with some truth telling and practical tips. Be ready to be inspired by this post! Enjoy!
Do more, be more, have more.
This seems to be the theme we find ourselves in more times than not. We end up in a constant state of running. Running from one thing to the next until we can no longer stand.
The funny thing is that we are proud of our busyness, we wear it like a badge of honor, as if being busy is the ultimate sign that we have arrived. In reality, we are burned out, stressed out and unhappy. We try and fit so much into our 24 hours that we end up emotionally, physically and spiritually undone. I lived this way for years.
Many of us know the story about Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38). Martha was distracted by preparing a meal for Jesus and his followers and complaining to Jesus that her sister Mary wasn’t helping. For years, I bragged about being a Martha, always doing something, running from one thing to the next until I fell in bed at night worn out. I thought that was how life was supposed to be, until I heard a sermon from our Pastor Todd West three years ago. Take 30 minutes and listen to this sermon! Do it, I promise you won’t regret it.
Y’all it doesn’t have to be this way. Let me introduce to you my friend Margin. Margin is the difference between what you have and what you need. It is the deliberate time you make to regroup, it is the space between our load and our capacity.
- Limit activities. Just because everyone else is running from one practice to another while picking up dinner at the drive-thru doesn’t mean that should be our norm. We made a decision as a family to limit our kids to one activity a season. This means each kid participates in one sport or activity per season and no more. It was hard to get everyone on board with this, the pressure from family members and even from the kids was hard to handle at first.
- Learn to say no. As a two on the enneagram this one was hard for me. I am always the first one to volunteer for a project or agree to attend an event just to keep everyone happy. I was doing this at the expense of my and my family’s sanity. My husband and kids are homebodies. They love hanging around the house at night and on the weekends so any time I have to force them out of the house it better be for a good reason. We need to learn to say yes to things that are of value. Guilt should not be a part of the deciding factor.
- Make routines. Routines are critical in creating margin in your life. I would love to make a gourmet meal every night but we are just not in that season right now. So Sunday is my prep day. I try to create a meal plan each week that is conducive to meal prepping. After my Sunday nap (yes, I nap every Sunday), we meal prep breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week. We separate all the fruit, chips, snack bars, etc. into little baggies so that we don’t have to do it each day. The kids grab what they want and throw it in their lunch box the night before. I have the kids pick out their outfits for the week and then put them in their closet organizer. I try and start a load of laundry every morning and then dry and fold it that evening. Every night before I go to bed I start the dishwasher even if it’s not full and I get the coffee maker ready for the next morning. These are just small things that help me gain an extra 15 minutes each day. Start small, maybe by making a meal plan or doing one load of laundry every day. Pick something and just start doing it.
- Make time in the Word a priority. This is my biggest struggle. It is the one thing that I tend blow off if I feel rushed. See, I’m not a morning person and the worst time for me to do a bible study is right when I wake up. I’m a middle of the day kind of girl, so that is when I do my studying, but this is also when I’m my busiest. I have to be intentional and fight for this time with the Lord. If I don’t I will give it up and allow something else to take its place. Spending time in His Word allows me to rest in His goodness so that I can tackle the challenges ahead.
- Put the phone down. Be present with the people around you. I recently read an article about a recent study that “actually showed that just having a phone out and present during a conversation (say, on the table between you) interferes with your sense of connection to the other person, the feelings of closeness experienced, and the quality of the conversation.” We are allowing our phones to dictate our relationships. Have you had one of your kids, a friend, or your spouse ask you to put the phone down? I have and it was an eye opener.
To finish out where we started in Luke 10, Jesus has an answer for Martha’s request to have her sister help. He says, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
You guys, do you really want to get to the end of your life and be filled with regrets over the things you missed out on? What memories will your kids have of you? Always cleaning house and running errands? How much better would it be if their memories were of you spending time in the Word, riding bikes as a family or just enjoying each other’s company?
I don’t want you to think I’ve got this all figured out, I struggle daily with maintaining margin. It is not something that comes naturally to me, but that doesn’t mean I have to be OK with living a life of busyness.
I want more for myself and my family. Make changes today that will affect how you live tomorrow.
Thanks, Paige, for such wonderful insight and practical tips on creating margin in our lives! It’s our prayer that this post will inspire you to focus on the things that matter.
Sara & April
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