How Much Is Too Much?

You’re reading Week 5 in a series called Hearts Undaunted. We are exploring how to live free from overwhelming fear, anxiety, discouragement, insecurity, and worthlessness.

I paused at her invitation. Considered. Debated. Worried.
And determined not to flake out on a commitment to our Hello Mornings group.

My peace-filled friend was joining, and my joy-filled friend was leading, so how could I beat that? Support, motivation, accountability…It sounded like a pretty good set up.

Until it wasn’t.                                     
Because this is what already filled my plate:

*Mother to 2 tween daughters, a 4 1/2 year-old daughter, and a nursing/weaning one-year old son
*Homeschooling teacher of 3 children and manager of one baby
*Weekly Bible study
*Co-leader of my parish’s Little Flowers Girls Club
*Chauffeur and cheerleader for my daughters’ dance classes
*Random monthly meetings
*Miscellaneous play dates, mommy dates, and special occasions

Though I lived discouraged, overwhelmed, and exhausted, I didn’t think I was doing that much.

Until two voices gently questioned whether I was spreading myself too thin. When my closest friend and a trusted counselor suggested I pare things down, I thought hard.

I remembered this one little word that some wonderful authors planted in my mind:

I had none. 
I said “yes” to things because I thought I was supposed to. (They are what “good Christians/moms/friends” do.)

I said “yes” because I was afraid of disappointing people by saying no.

I said “yes” because I wanted to be worthwhile and successful.

I was doing many things, but not doing many very well.

So, Andrea suggested paring it down.

Really? I thought. I can do that? That’s not how society works, is it?

It turns that it doesn’t matter what society, or anyone else expects of me. 

It only matters what God expects of me. Choosing anything else–the approval of others, success-based worth–is making an idol of it. (Thank you for that conviction, Andrea. Seriously, have you clicked to check out The Hope Center for Christian Counseling yet? They are amazing!)

It also turns out that I heap a whole bunch of expectations on myself that God doesn’t…Enter the burn out.

I made what I considered a radical decision: after finishing out the remaining weeks of a few commitments, I pared my regular activities down to 3:
1. Wife/Mom
2. Homeschooling Teacher
3. Blogger

While I accepted invitations to individual events if I knew I was accepting for the right reasons, I kept my commitments to those three ministries.

It wasn’t easy. Some people didn’t understand.

And I had to leave my Hello Mornings group made up of church friends. From the outside, that decision made very little sense. It was a good group, but I knew God was calling me to something else. I just knew.

He knew I needed not only margin, but also room for what was coming.

There was turmoil:
*The end of a dear friendship
*Heartbreak for each of my siblings
*My husband’s job loss, job search, and adjustment to a new job
*The passing of my friend’s husband

There were friends having babies and other friends He wanted me to know better.

There was His plan for my healing. He has been guiding me out of discouragement, fear, anxiety, insecurity, and worthlessness.

Into a holy confidence.

And He wants me to write about it. And write. And write. And write. You can see how that is turning out. (Hello Allume!)
He knew my world was going to turn upside down, and He continues urging me to let go of those things that hurt me, wear me down, make me unavailable, and hinder me from pursuing the life He offers.

Heart Verse
Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, 
the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; 
were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare. 
–Psalm 40:5

I continue to evaluate. Often, I backtrack and release what I see He is not calling me to. It’s imperfect progress, but it is progress.

Heart Questions
1. Are you overwhelmed, exhausted, and burdened by having too many commitments?
2. What commitments would you like to or do you have to keep?
3. What commitments can you let go of?

Heart Challenge
Have a heart to heart with the Lord. Ask Him what He is calling you and your family to and how He would have you spend your time. Ask him to the courage to make changes and quiet the fears of what you think other people expect of you.

Heart Prayer
Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your goodness, Your faithfulness, and Your perfect plan for each of Your children. Bless each person who reads this. Convict her heart of Your mad love for her and Your unique plan to prosper her. Reveal to her those activities and relationships that will bring her life and bring You glory. Give her courage to release the extras. Replace those things with peace and confidence. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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The comments are open, friends. What commitments do you struggle with? Are you overwhelmed and burned out? Let’s chat!
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  1. I recently accepted a commitment to something that I was unsure about…my fear of saying No! Led to anxiety, stress, and doubt.. My insecurity was at an all time high after two attempts at what I had committed to, I finally did what I should have done in first place: pray first, speak and answer second! Thankfully God has provided a way for me out of it and in process I have had a life lesson on learning ” it is ok to say No I am sorry I can not do that! ” now if I can only remember this next time I am put on the spot!

    • Oh, I am SO glad He provided a way out. On the spot, it’s very difficult to say no (not on the spot, too!), and I did the same thing just this week, sigh. God is so good and merciful. He provided a way out for me and gently showed me what things look like when people make commitments according to His call and their strengths. Let’s practice together;)

  2. Wow, Mandy, I linked up behind you at WIP, and my post was about choosing to please God over the fear of what others think etc….so I am tracking with you…For the past several years, God has been leading me to pare down, and when I choose something for the wrong reason, it hasn’t been pretty, so I am slowly learning to really seek His face for guidance on what to do and what not to do…

    Sounds like you are being very wise to just listen to Him as your plate does look very full…Blessings and Peace to you, Mandy…Nice to meet you :)

    • Dolly, I LOVE when this happens:) Many of the words in your comment directly confirm things that Gos has laid on my heart. I was unsure if I would even post this this week, and which of 2 topics I would write about–and when I would post it. (And should I link up this week? It’s been a crazy time over here:) Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. They have blessed me a ton! Blessings and prayers!

  3. Hi Mandy,
    Good for you for having the courage to make those hard choices and make room for margin. (Isn’t that the greatest, godliest concept EVER?) It’s always hard to step away from a ministry, but it’s even harder to keep trying to juggle so many things. I’ve learned the importance of giving up the GOOD to make room for the BEST.

    Hugs from VA,

    • I like how you put that: giving up the GOOD to make room for the BEST. Awesome. Thanks, Susan! I’m trying to remember the counter-cultural message that margin is a good thing:) Blessings, friend!

  4. Margins! A wonderful thing when God helps us bring them into our lives. We’ve learned to stop and ask the Lord first if we find ourselves using the words “we should” Learning to say no was a huge step for me (a long time pleaser) Thanks for a wonderful post, and for linking up today!

    • So true, Katharine. Who decides those “shoulds” anyway? As you say, God’s “should” is the only one that brings true peace, joy, and glory to Him. Thanks for stopping by. I so enjoy your link up!

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