When I have too many items on my to-do list and I look around in a daze at the end of the day wondering what in the world I actually accomplished, I know it’s time for something new.
The past few months have been filled with incredibly wonderful opportunities but also challenges. That to-do list continued to grow, my obligations continued to weigh heavier, the deadlines pressed in. I knew I could do it — for a season. But I also knew that trying to live under the weight of so many expectations and pressures would eventually catch up to me. And it did.
I knew exactly when it did when I got mad at my phone.
On my screen popped a little notification. “So-and-so wants you to watch this Periscope!” it said. I got mad, y’all. Talk to my phone, tell it to stop being so bossy, wondering why everyone always needed me for SOMETHING, mad. I could feel the hot tears welling up in my eyes just looking at the screen. I’d been short with my family, closed myself off from friends, and had started to live in this dangerous little bubble called “my head.”
That tiny notification on my phone was the final straw.
I deleted apps off my phone, thinking that running away (my “go to” response when life gets hard) would be the answer. It did add a little peace to my day, but the frustration and emptiness and loneliness were all still there.
I was hustling so hard to accomplish the “to do” list that I’d forgotten to make time in my day to listen for God’s agenda. I was saying “yes” to everything that came my way because I was sad about a lot of the “no’s” I’d been getting, and I wanted to make myself feel important. Accomplished. Worthwhile. Worthy. But none of the items I was adding to my list were bringing me joy — lasting joy — the kind that comes when we settle into that sweet spot of doing the holy work God is calling us to do to make His name important — not our own.
So a few days ago, as April turned into May and brought with it dreary, gray weather that matched my mood, I stopped my hustle long enough to ask God what it was that He wanted me to do.
I felt a nudge to do two things:
1. Invite women to join me in a Bible study.
2. Spend one week recognizing and encouraging women who inspire me.
God knows that when I get overwhelmed I shut myself off from community, and He was asking me create a community that put Him at the focus. So I gathered some women online who love faith and fitness like I do, and we’re reading Katie Orr’s Everyday Faith study together — 15 minutes a day. And instead of feeling frustrated about adding one more item to my to-do list, one more expectation, one more group of people who “need” something from me, this is bringing joy and refreshment to my weary soul. Because that’s what God’s Word does.
And because God also knows I have a tendency to fall into a “what’s in it for me” mindset, asking me to recognize others publicly for how they impact my life has given me another opportunity to stop shining a light on myself and turn the attention to the way God is working through His daughters on social media. I thought for a long time that “words of affirmation” was my primary love language, but I’m learning that I actually really love using words of encouragement and kindness to lift others up (and gifts — especially thoughtful, personal ones, are actually my primary love language).
It’s a new month, a new start, and a new thing.
I’m less focused on my to-do list and more focused on the holy hustle — working hard at the things God is asking me to do, the things that make His name great. And a little less yelling at my phone!
What is God asking you to do today that might not be on your to-do list?
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
My answer would have to be…Be in His Word. A large part of why I write is because it takes me delving deeper into scripture. I haven’t written for two weeks and I feel the emptiness rising within me. Yes, I’m getting things done – good things for God’s kingdom, but I’m ignoring why He sent His Son – because He wants to live in relationship with me. It’s hard to have a relationship if you don’t spend time together. Thanks for the wake up call!
Yes! I know that feeling – writing this was one of the first posts I’ve done in awhile and it did my heart some good to get the words out and being in the Word has been refilling what has felt so drained. xoxo
Kim S says
Speaking to my heart early this morning, Crystal! Oh my – running away (& hiding) is my “go to” response when life gets hard too. Thank you so much for encouraging me this morning to pray for what God wants for me that might not be on my never-ending to do list. Have a wonderful day!
Oh, so thankful for you Kim – thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one who goes into “flight” mode. Praying God would be so beautifully present in your day today.
Crystal, you’re really transparent here and showing your love to others. Like Bev, I think mine is getting into his word – at the start of the day. I’ve woken up at 5a.m. – way earlier than I need to – and I think God’s getting me up! I just need to respond!
Ah, those early morning wake up calls from God! Praying your time with Him was sweet and that you have extra coffee brewing today 🙂
Gail Noe says
Perfect. I can relate 100%. I just finished my early worship time and that is exactly what I was waiting on the Lord for, waiting for Him to put all these demands in His order. He put me here for Himself and His purposes. My heart’s desire is to know Him-PRIORITY- and to learn His purpose and plan for this day and each day. Will I do it perfectly? Probably not, but I am pressing towards Him. Freedom in Christ!!!
Freedom indeed, Gail! Grateful to press forward with you.
Louise Hintze says
Amen! I try to be open to Jesus and go where he wants me to go. There are many times when I choose to be selfish and self centered and just do what pleases me. Yesterday after working and being tired I went to dinner with my husband, my two girls and their husbands to celebrate Mother’s Day. It was a beautiful time with them.
Today I wanted to do things for ME!!! But as he does many times the Lord nudged me and I sent a text to my friend Joanne to ask if she would like to take our mutual friend Renee to lunch. Joanne shared that yesterday was the twentieth wedding anniversary of Renee’s husband who just died in November. It was then that I realized why the Lord had prompted me. Renee is homebound and cannot drive so the only outlet she has for fellowship is when friends take her to church or lunch or to the grocery, etc. Praise the Lord for the opportunity to do His will and not mine when I obey.
Oh what a sweet blessing to be able to do that, Louise! I’m so glad you shared that story.
“Holy hustle” — <3 Amen, sister. I'm right there with ya, feeling that weight, needing that break. I'd like to run away for a while, but it would be futile, b/c my heaviest weight is my mind. I'd still be thinking about "all.the.things." ((hug)) Prayers for you, sister. ((grace upon grace))
Oh Crystal, thank you for this great post. I too have this love language, a beautiful gift from the Lord for His purpose and glory. I have caught myself spending time in the Word, but not letting it fully sink in being so rushed. I praise the Lord for this gentle admonishment to quality time, not quantity, in His Word and in prayer. May we each hear His tender voice and nudges to do His will today 🙂
Liz Sagaser says
Thank you for this timely post, Crystal. I work full time and do freelance work on the side, my children are 5 and 7 and my hubby works overtime on call at his medical technician post at the local hospital. I too feel the weight of too much expectation and feel like too many people/things want something from me. What I’m not doing is taking time to decompress and spend time with the Lord. Thank you for the reminder to connect daily with him.
Oh friend, I can’t imagine how full your plate must be. Praying you find time in little unexpected ways to reconnect with God today.
Michele Morin says
When my kids were all tiny, in utter frustration, I chose a day every so often and refused to write anything on my planner except the word “BE.” What good memories were made on those days.
I LOVE this! I am in the midst of the “tiny kids” stage and find myself frustrated on some days that I’m not getting “enough” done. I need to just BE and it’s okay 🙂
That is so perfect! I think I’m going to try that 🙂
God always knows what we need. We just need to stop long enough to listen. My list needs to be more organized and full of things that bring joy rather than frustration. I’m craving face to face time with friends so that is what I am scheduling on my list. God knows my heart and realizes that desire for real conversations and time that renews rather than frustrates. So here’s to listening to God and getting out of my own head to make this happen.
Love this – and you! xoxo
Oh Crystal, I have soooo been there. Recently, too. End of school year busy-ness and family craziness has left me WEARY. I’m working to spend time with Jesus every day, which helps. I’ve been fighting discouragement lately over disappointing No’s. The thing God is telling me to do is to Wait and Trust Him. So, that’s what I’m doing, moment-by-moment.
I’m doing some moment-by-moment waiting with you today, Jeanne. I’m sorry for those disappointing “no’s” and praying that God has something beautiful planned for that time that you never would have been able to experience had they been the “yes” answers you wanted. xoxo
Lisa-Jo Baker says
You are LITERALLY reading my mind. Thanks for this reminder that my phone is not the boss of me 🙂
Crystal, I think we all can identify with the same struggle! One the books we read and promote to our students at the unversity is called The Servant Leader by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, and it not only addresses but helps to refocus the concept of being a better steward of our egos, abilities, agendas, etc. so they fall in line with what God wants for us as servant leaders. It has been a great help to me, and perhaps it will be to you also:)
Love, love, love seeing you make these changes to align yourself more fully with God’s will for you. You know how I am praying about direction too…God keeps telling me “be faithful with little.” You are doing that well, friend!
Joanna @ Modern Ruth Project says
Great post – I think we can all relate about taking on too much! I have been in the same place with a lot of work stress and I decided I’m taking off tomorrow and Monday, and just having some extended non-work relaxation time. I am very blessed that I get to do that, I know, so thank you God for the freedom!
Great idea! I hope you have a lovely weekend 🙂
Andrea Mitchell says
“But none of the items I was adding to my list were bringing me joy —
lasting joy — the kind that comes when we settle into that sweet spot of
doing the holy work God is calling us to do to make His name important —
not our own.”
This resonated with me. As my school year draws to a close, I’m tempted to fill the empty time with things that make me feel important, useful, purposeful. You’d think I’d just want to enjoy my summer off, but instead I can feel myself planning how I can find those things. I stepped back from blogging because my “sweet spot” is preschool. I fully expected to just jump back in over the summer, but I think deep down I know I want to for the wrong reasons. I think maybe instead He is asking me to enjoy this season of rest He has given me, to be refreshed, to be renewed, and to do just a little work for next school year because I can’t help it and it gives me joy to plan for my littles and grow professionally. But mostly because I really do believe my classroom is my mission field and it’s so important we allow ourselves time for rest when we are serving Him, no matter how that looks. I’m glad for this reminder today – you just simplified my to-do list greatly!
Oh I’m a time-filler too, girl! I love that you recognized that and are choosing rest instead!
I had one of the most positive and uplifting experiences this week. I was teaching two women how to crochet and one of the women brought up the movie War Room. I used it as an opportunity to talk about having a book study on the book Fervent. I look forward to starting a crochet/book study group where all items made will be donated to charity. That is what God is placing in my heart.
Beth Williams says
May God bless the Bible Study and the group. I pray it all goes well and you can crochet many nice items for charity! I pray you and your family are blessed as well!
Thank you so much Beth!
Beth Williams says
I wanted to make myself feel important. Accomplished. Worthwhile. Worthy. OH that is so me! I have an insatiable need to feel useful and be used by God. most days I don’t get the sense of accomplishment I would like. Then suddenly I will come to In Courage and wham! God blesses me with sweet messages that I am being used by Him. God is calling me to pray more and fervently. Be in His Word, listening to good Christian music and soak Him up-whilst giving up this crazy world of ours!
Renee Swope says
Oh friend. I almost yelled at a Periscope notification the other day, too!! I’m glad to know I”m not the only one. I just took all SM off my phone to quiet the noise and get quiet with Jesus so He can tell me what I need to hear. My heart is craving something but I’m still trying to figure out what it is. Thank you for being so real and going first in this confession. It is so good for my soul.
Jenny Howell says
SAME! Overwhelmed Jen = the shutting off of community. Its my best way for me to introvert after too much connecting (which I love). But you are right, we still require others in our spaces to grow and refine. Thanks for this today!
kelly balarie says
I love how you listened to God. He knew just the right medicine. I can’t tell you how many times he whispers to me, “Kelly, if you look and love around you, it all won’t feel like it will consume you.” Such a great message.