In a recent post about organizing my freezers I posed the question, “Do you ever have jobs that you need to do, but don’t?” A reader posted this comment:
Yes...it seems this is an ongoing part of life. Ugg. Actually, I really enjoy the feeling of organizing something significant like that but I am having trouble just to have the energy to get my normal chores done. Seriously. Do you always have super energy? Do you ever get exhausted? I have felt so hopeless about this subject lately. I can give some great effort and get most everything almost perfect. But of course it does not stay that way for more than a minute. But I am struggling with managing so many little things consistently. Does that make sense? Like, I was never taught how to manage the normal daily responsibilities. And now I have soooo much more on my plate. Lots of volunteer work, taking care of a house and three kids, barely taking care of myself, beginning homeschool this fall and starting a business. I have even realized that I have, since young, gotten very anxious about looming tasks. Is this normal? I feel like the only one freaking out. And it is so dumb. I just want to live in the moment, be organized and do what I can while not being hard on myself. I have talked to the Lord about this. And I have seen an improvement in how I handle the stress. But, I really want to get even better at this. Really really. Hope that makes sense. Love the blog.
She raises so many good questions and really hits a nerve that runs through many, if not all of us at some point or another. Rather than just trying to give a short answer in a comment box, I really felt like this needed a more thorough answer. It really strikes at the root of why I organize things the way I do, and why my priorities are set the way they are. I wasn’t trained in these things either.
I have always been a hard worker. Although I have been accused of many things, I don’t think that laziness was ever one of them. Some of that work ethic was a result of my personality, but truthfully, some of it stemmed from a lack of self-confidence. I figured if I could work hard enough, and do things perfectly enough, people would like me. So I worked. And worked. For nearly 2 decades, I worked myself into the ground. I slept between 2-4 hours a night and didn’t even take quick breaks.
What I found after all that time was that no matter how hard I worked, I just couldn’t please everyone. Someone would always be there to find fault with my efforts. When you are in the ministry, people have a lot of different ideas of who you should be and what you should be doing. They have an opinion about how you dress, how you talk, what your hobbies are, how you spend your money, whether you preach or don’t preach, how and when you volunteer, how you raise your kids, and even what you eat. You simply cannot please everyone. If you make one person happy, you often offend another. I wanted to please them all, but you see, my motive was wrong. Instead of working at what the Lord had dealt with me to do, I was desperately working to please the people around me and still trying to do what God had asked me to do. There just wasn’t enough of me to go around.
Finally, about 5 years ago, it all came crashing down. By that point, I had been running on sheer willpower and adrenaline for so long that I simply broke my body down. I couldn’t even get out of bed. It would take me days to get enough strength to do a church service. The Grace of God was there to sustain me through the service, but once the service was over I would be so weak and drained that my husband would have to help me to the car. I would spend the next several days on the couch or in bed trying to gain enough strength to do the next church service. It was a very dark time in my life. But it was also a time of re-evaluating, re-prioritizing and re-aligning. When you can’t get up, it gives you a lot of time to think. I came out of that time a very different person. Now I know why I do what I do, and I don’t do it in response to someone else’s idea of what I should be doing. It isn't that I'm not tempted (the roots of some things run deep), but now I know the consequences of being a people pleaser.
I started learning to do things the way I do out of sheer desperation. It is the result of much prayer, study, planning, trial and error. Lots of error. I have arrived at a life that mostly works for me and my family. When it doesn’t, I have learned how to monitor and adjust. Over the next few days, I want to tell you how I defeat the Overwhelm Monster.