If you’ve seen the movie Pure Country you’re familiar with the conversation about the dancing chicken. George Strait’s character is exhausted. He’s tired of the BIG SHOW. He misses the simplicity of singing verses performing. His drummer asked,
“Do you remember going to the fair as kids to watch the dancing chicken?”
George replies, “Sometimes I feel like a dancing chicken.”
Drummer: “You know what I always wondered? Why didn’t that chicken just jump off the stage?”
Friends, how long has it been since we last chatted here, in our place? To be honest, I don’t want to know. It’s convicting.
Lying in bed last night, trying to SHUT-UP! my brain I remembered I had forgotten to message a girl who had asked for my help. I looked back to see how long ago it had been since she had messaged me…a month. A whole month.
How well do you self-regulate?
It is with great intention Jason reminds me there are only so many hours in a day. He often quotes Gus from the movie Lonesome Dove (because quite obviously we don’t watch enough westerns)
“You do more work that you got to (sweetheart), so it’s my obligation to do less.”
Why do we try to do so much?
I recently overheard a woman say, she feels guilty when she has open spaces on her calendar. Why? Since when did open spaces on a calendar become a bad thing?
Could we have it all backward?
More money? More activities? More hobbies? More accomplishments?
Donald Whitney, in his book, The Spiritual Disciplines states, “They have dabbled in everything but discipline themselves in nothing.”
How many things are we dabbling in?
We dabble with extra curricula activities, we dabble at relationships, we dabble at parenting, we dabble in our faith, we dabble in our workplaces. We dabble at many things but in which things are we disciplined?
I’m prone to overdo.
It’s been a repeated behavior throughout the years. As a young teacher with no children, I overworked. Staying at work until six or seven o’clock each day. During our season of infertility, I overspent. Through our season of loss, I continued to overspend and added to that, excessive drinking in private. Since leaving my job just over three years ago to come home and homeschool our boys, I’ve overcommitted. I’ve taken on an abundance of activities and tried to maintain an unrealistic to-do list.
I’ve glorified busy.
I’ve believed the lie that more is better. I’ve tried to convince myself that rest can wait. These things are simply not true.
What shall we do?
How can we rage against the war for our time and spend it wisely on the things that matter most?
We’ve got to do the hard things.
- Access where we are and where you desire to be
- Just say no
Sounds easy enough, and yet why is it so hard?
My daddy said it years ago and truer words were never spoken, “Babe, the hardest word you’ll ever learn to say is no.”
Saying no is hard but at this point it is absolutely necessary. To further validate this point: in the last three days I’ve been made aware of or spoken to women who have resorted to taking Xanax and another taking Valium to make it through their days, another moving a fridge in at midnight because there was no time in her day, one who declared she almost had a nervous breakdown last week after she said yes to a commitment she knew she didn’t have time for amidst all of her other commitments and yet we keep saying YES!!
Y’all, we are barely leaving ourselves margin to breathe.
This problem is trending. We are seeing this in the bookstores. Jen Hatmaker’s new book, For the Love, addresses this issue and how never before has a generation tried to do as many things as we are attempting to do. We’re hearing it on the radio. I recently heard a podcast from Pastor Chris Hodges, from Church of The Highlands on how to manage our stress; when in fact, we can’t.
There is NO POSSIBLE WAY TO DO ALL THE THINGS WE ARE TRYING TO DO and stay sane.
So, having surely validated the point, let’s make a plan:
- Assess where and how we are spending our time.
Make a list or spreadsheet (if you’re one who loves spreadsheets) (I am not) of ALL of the things you are currently involved in and/or committed to. Then, take it a step further and actually write out the hours in a day and/or block out the hours committed to that activity. For example:
- 6:00 -7:00 a.m Morning wake up, quiet time, dress for work
- 7:00 -8:00 a.m Kids to school, arrive at work
- After you’ve made your list, circle, highlight or mark in some way the things that are non-negotiable and take a good hard look at what’s left. Prioritize. Call a family meeting. Gather those who are greatly affected by your schedule. Ask them: what things or activities do you enjoy most?
I did this recently. I asked my boys, “Of all the things we do, and all the places we go, which is your favorite?” You know what their answer was?? Home. They love to be at home. No light show. No agenda. No big to-do. Just, home. Ask your people. I bet they will surprise you.
- After you have met and discussed with your people the things that stay and what must go, write it down and STICK TO IT!
My husband drew a circle after listening to a local radio talk show the other day.
He declared, “This is our circle for the month of October. There are only so many hours in October. These are the HAVE-TOs for this month. The things we are already committed to and/or responsible for in the month of October. For sanity sake and in our pursuit to minimalize, there can be no further activities added to the circle for the month of October unless some of the planned activities leave the circle. Agreed?”
Me: sigh…. “Agreed.”
- Lastly, we must choose to say no. Believe me, I know, I know, saying yes is so much easier. Yes flows easier off the tongue when no like almost chokes me sometimes but it’s necessary. Desperate means call for desperate measures. I’ve had to ask for help.
I sent out and SOS to two other overachievers last week. “Girls, we need each other. For the sake of sanity, we’ve got to help each other say no. Let’s make a pact. Let’s promise to bring decisions and/or new opportunities before the group before we say yes to ONE.MORE.THING. Agreed?”
Group text: “Agreed.”
You laugh? We’re laughing too. Because when you actually write out, or in our case, text the endless things we are all asked to do, it becomes very apparent – there.is.no.way. to manage the amount of stressors we’ve invited into our lives. A woman or even a whole army of women could not do all the things NOR SHOULD WE TRY. This simple form of accountability has not only been a nice form of comic relief, it has been sobering to see the things asked of three women.
To wrap, let’s go back and take another look at the dancing chicken. Let’s consider the words of the drummer from Pure Country. Why don’t we jump off the stage and call a time out? Regroup, prioritize, minimalize and say no.
Ask some hard questions. Who matters most? What matters most? What must stay and what must go? Pastor Chris Hodges said in the podcast that pierced my soul, “Many things are doable but not sustainable?” We can live crazy for a season but not long-term.
Let’s work together to establish a new normal. A slower, less complicated normal. Let’s agree to say no and trade popularity for respect.
For sanity sake.
For marriage sake.
For family sake.
For the sake of humanity.
much love and prayers,