How To Escape the Overcommitment Trap | By Karin Peters

Know your life was made for so much more than “busy work”. Rest assured, your Heavenly Father sees beauty in your ability to rest, understanding that time belongs to Him. When we create space in our lives, He fills it with blessings that naturally flow from honoring Him.

“That is not your circus and those are not your monkeys!”

My mom’s favorite quote echoes in my mind when I feel suffocated by too many projects or the lack of checks on my to-do list. This is usually when I fall face first into the overcommittment trap.

Often, I feel so overwhelmed by my plans that I become frazzled, unorganized and moody to the point I’m hard to be around. It’s not pretty.

However, God has a better plan for our time.

When we take on tasks never meant to be “under our circus tent”, we feel more spiritually, emotionally and physically drained than when we actually started. Good, beautiful and even church-related tasks, can be obstacles in finding the God-ordained rhythm of our lives.

In Proverbs 31, we find the “woman of noble character” doing it all effortlessly. She’s runs a business, gets up early, takes care of her children, keeps the house spotless and has, no doubt, mastered the Instant Pot!

If we don’t read Proverbs 31 carefully, we may deduce that being a Godly woman requires doing ALL the things and doing them all well.

From verse 27, we see that’s not what the passage is saying at all.

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” – Proverbs 31:27

The Hebrew word for “looks well” actually means to “guard like a watchman” and the “ways of her household” can also mean the “affairs or procession of her household”.

In other words, she attentively guards the goings-on of her life and household. The second part of the verse shows the other extreme, illustrating that that although she is careful to guard against the unnecessary, she also does not give into idleness.

The godly woman’s time is most beautiful and pleasing to Her Father when it hovers between the strain of excessive activity and the waste of idleness.

Know your life was made for so much more than “busy work”. Rest assured, your Heavenly Father sees beauty in your ability to rest, understanding that time belongs to Him. When we create space in our lives, He fills it with blessings that naturally flow from honoring Him.

Proverbs 31 describes the height of female effectiveness, which is unattainable for any one woman. This poem gives us examples of how a godly women stewards various tasks in and outside the home.

When we try to do it all, we quickly become ensnared in the overcommittment trap. The color fades, the beauty vanishes, and our lives become fragile.

God’s best for us involves diligently protecting our time and resources. We must be on constant alert against tasks that could take our attention away from our God-given priorities.

Do you find yourself running at an unmanageable pace? Here are some clues to help you determine if your three-ring circus has a few too many acts:

  • Do you feel constantly overwhelmed and controlled by your agenda?
  • Do you have trouble sleeping because your to-do list is running through your mind?
  • Do you have a hard time finding a time to rest?

A few months ago, I decided I would be “super efficient” by refinishing three large pieces of furniture simultaneously. That included a roll-top desk, and two secretary desks (one of which I featured in my post How To Paint Laminate Furniture).

Before I knew it, I had 27 different drawers scattered around my guest room and office, not to mention disassembled pieces of furniture on both sides of our garage.

After several weeks, I finally got the desks sanded, primed, painted and re-assembled for their rightful owners. I had no time to spend with my daughter, the house was a mess and my writing was put on hold.

If I had finished one desk at a time, I would have used my allotted area in one side of the garage and had plenty of space in my life for my other priorities. Instead I felt overwhelmed, stressed, and bitter about the whole project.

The furniture was beautiful but my heart was an ugly mess.

Know your life was made for so much more than “busy work”. Rest assured, your Heavenly Father sees beauty in your ability to rest, understanding that time belongs to Him. When we create space in our lives, He fills it with blessings that naturally flow from honoring Him.

When we don’t stick to our God-given boundary lines:

  1. Every aspect of our lives and household struggles to function normally.
  2. We don’t have the extra capacity to handle life’s hardships because our resources are already depleted.
  3. Our hearts are left exhausted and overwhelmed, instead of infused with the peace and joy that comes from a life lived within our God-given limits
  4. We don’t have extra space in our lives to be generous to others.

As I mentioned in my post The Kind Of Mom I NEVER Want To Be, everyone’s plate looks different. Although another woman might have different responsibilities or more of them, we only worsen our burden by comparing ourselves with her.

“The boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:6

So how do we avoid overcommitment?

  1. First things first. – God’s blessings are the natural result of spending daily time with Him in prayer and Bible study.
  2. You have one job. – Remember your one responsibility is to be obedient to Him and He will take care of everything else. Chaos results when something enters our tent that should not be there.
  3. Stop before saying “yes” to something. Give yourself some time to think and pray about it before giving an answer.

Robert Louis Stephenson once said, “Perpetual devotion is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things.” It takes as much discipline to say “no” to the wrong things as it does to say “yes” to the right things. Saying “yes” to something, no matter what it is, means saying “no” to something else because we only have a set number of resources.

When we lose our margins and push right up to the edge of our boundaries, we rob from the things that matter most – God, kids, your husband, rest, etc. We also negate the possibility of being generous with our time, resources and money.

When we break free from the overcommittment trap, we can serve from a place of love instead of hustling from a place of fear.

Know your life was made for so much more than “busy work”. Rest assured, your Heavenly Father sees beauty in your ability to rest, understanding that time belongs to Him. When we create space in our lives, He fills it with blessings that naturally flow from honoring Him. | Christian Mother | Time Management | Busy Mom | Saying No

Know your life was made for so much more than “busy work”. Rest assured, your Heavenly Father sees beauty in your ability to rest, understanding that time belongs to Him. When we create space in our lives, He fills it with blessings that naturally flow from honoring Him.

Proverbs 31:25 says the godly woman “laughs at the days to come”. In guarding her time to honor Him, she does not live in fear or dread of what comes next. She can rest knowing that time is not her taskmaster.

What about you? What items keep creeping onto your to-do list, tempting you to overcommit?

How do these things these things detract from the main event and the little monkeys of your three-ring circus?

May peace and joy reign in your heart knowing that God will faithfully finish what He has started in your life.

‘Til Next Time,

Karin


Karin Peters loves writing, DIY projects, and combining the two. When she’s not spending time with her husband Jeremy and daughter Morgan, she enjoys decorating, crafts and time in her greenhouse. At Renovated Faith, Karin explores the transformative power of God to help us reach our greatest potential in Him. Anyone can renovate a house, but only God can renovate your heart and mind. You can also find Karin on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


This article has been shared at my favorite Faith & Family Linkups.

Sarah Koontz

About Sarah Koontz

 
Sarah Koontz invites Christians of all ages to explore the beauty of God’s design. She is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Sarah lives on 13-acres in South Dakota with her husband, two daughters and a rowdy flock of 30 chickens. She revels in their simple, uncluttered life.

Follow Sarah on FacebookInstagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Read Sarah’s full Bio Here.

46 thoughts on “How To Escape the Overcommitment Trap | By Karin Peters

  1. Amen! I think it’s so important to stop before saying, “yes.” I try to remember to say, “thanks for asking, let me pray and think about it.” It gives me time to assess the request as a commitment outside of my desire to please the person who’s asking. Great post and tips!

    1. Thank you so much Deb. I love what you said about taking time before committing to something. That small window of time can make all the difference in either walking out God’s ordained plans for your life or overcommitting to something that was never supposed to be on your plate to begin with. Thank you again!

  2. I have to keep reminding myself that most of the monkeys are not in my circus tent! The boundary lines HAVE fallen in pleasant places, and when I remember to prioritize the tasks God gives me within my boundaries, everything else falls in place rather pleasantly. 🙂 Enjoyed reading your encouraging words this morning. Visiting from Glimpses.

    1. Ha! I know the feeling Kym. It’s amazing how they all get in there. I love how you said that when we prioritize , everything falls into place rather pleasantly. His best is truly our best! Thank you for reading!

    1. Thank you so much Melanie. It amazes me how many times it has taken me to get that right. I’m so used to saying yes before considering how the opportunity fits into God’s priorities. I have certainly learned my lesson that He truly knows my time better than I do. Thank you for stopping by!

  3. Your mom is a wise (and fun!) woman. I like your wrap-up comment regarding laughing at the days to come … “She can rest knowing that time is not her taskmaster.” I think about my kids (older teenagers now). One of my favorite things is to see them rolling on the floor in laughter. That doesn’t happen too often, as the stress and strains of schoolwork, projects, exams are abundant. But when those things are over, they have such a great time. That freedom to laugh is a good indicator of our stress level.

  4. This 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽 Oh my goodness!! Speaks right to me and my daily overcommitment struggle. So often, I hear God screaming to stop…just stop…listen and then follow.

    1. Thank you so much! It makes my day to hear that God spoke to you through this post. It seems so easy to stop and listen but it’s something I realize I have to be intentional about daily or it just doesn’t happen. Thanks for stopping by Brittany!

  5. Karin! I think we might be twins separated at birth! LOL Dandelions and DIY! It’s too much to take in all at once! On a serious note… it can be so easy to get overwhelmed. I’m thankful for the Army that moves us every couple of years so I can sever ties gracefully with overcommitment. You’d think after 20+ years I’d have figured out how to put an end to the madness… Yet I still come hobbling in to the end of our time at a duty station just as frazzled as before we left the last. Since we just moved AGAIN, I’m trying to be very intentional about my yes. I don’t want to simply meet a need, I want to heed God’s call. Blessings!

  6. Wonderful article. Just what I needed to hear today. The message was a punctuation mark on the end of what God is telling (okay, retelling)me right now! Blessings, visiting from Porch Stories and Kristin Taylor.

  7. My biggest problem isn’t saying “no” to others but to myself. I want to do too many good things and miss the best sometimes. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Karin! And thanks also to Sarah for sharing your helpful and practical post with us today!

    1. YES!!! I totally get that. My husband tells me often I’m my own worst enemy. So often my hardest deadlines to meet are the ones that are self-imposed. I’m so glad God is bigger than my own stubbornness. Thanks for reading Beth!

  8. Love this post, Karin. So packed full of truth and how to apply it in a practical way. I especially relish this, “God’s best for us involves diligently protecting our time and resources. We must be on constant alert against tasks that could take our attention away from our God-given priorities.” Thank you. Blessings!

    1. Thank you Karen. So many times I’m guilty of thinking that once I have learned something, I should always just be able to remember and apply it automatically. This is one of those truths I have to “put on” every day. Thank you for stopping by!

  9. This couldn’t be any more perfectly timed. I have become OVERWHELMED with all that is going on in my life. My boyfriend laughed at me and said I was trying too hard to be a P31 woman. I’m going to take a step back, maybe five steps and readjust my life. Thanks for this.

    1. I’m so glad to here that Belema! I think re-evaluating is a great idea. I think we just assume other women can do it all well but I know we all struggle with this on some level. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Karin,

    This is a constant struggle of mine. I love the quote from your mom. I am going to copy that one down. I am always finding myself taking care of someone else’s monkeys and it is not where God called me. Sarah, Thank you for sharing on your blog.

    Maree

  11. OH my goodness! I mumble that quote all the time! “not my circus not my monkeys” is my go to quote to try and remind myself to focus a bit more on putting the family first and not worrying about all that outside stuff.

  12. Wonderful post! I love how you speak of the tension between excess activity and idleness. In my life I have had a tendency to over commit to the point of burn out, then do nothing. Over time I’ve learned to make the main things the main thing and let the little stuff take care of itself. I still struggle with not getting everything done in a day – but I can’t give God, my family and loved ones the time and attention they deserve if I’m a slave to the details and to-do lists. I’ve learned to focus on the important vs. the urgent – but I do need to regularly remind myself, “this isn’t important.” Thanks for a thoughtful, well written piece.

    1. Right…it’s like trying to balance on the center part of a teeter totter. It’s where we know we want to be, but it’s difficult to maintain that balance. I’m thankful that God shows me how to do that because I sure couldn’t on my own. Thank you for stopping by Liz!

  13. Hello, Karin. Glad to see you here at Sarah’s! When we cram more and more into our overly busy schedules it’s no wonder that, “Chaos results when something enters our tent that should not be there”. Oh, how true! But when we remember our “one” job, being obedient to God, everything else falls unto place. The world says, go,go,go. But there is true peace in God-ordained rest.
    Thank you for a lovely read.

  14. I found the definition helpful, “The Hebrew word for “looks well” actually means to “guard like a watchman.” I’ve looked at the Proverbs 31 woman as one would look at a biography, her life included many achievements, not her days. Thanks for these great reminders that God provides a way to enjoy our activities and families and not live overwhelmed.

    1. Hi Debbie! That was really helpful to me also. I think women’s lives are much more transient then men’s. Many men have the same career most of their lives but women’s lives are so multi-faceted, with different priorities at different times. Thank you for reading Debbie!

  15. I love the idea of the Proverbs woman laughing at the days to come. I think partly because she has done her part and knows God is in charge. Over commitment is a problem for me sometimes. And sometimes I think what will take ten minutes to set up, takes 4 hours (like my recent printer). But I remember one older lady saying to me as a new mother that there would be many good things coming my way I could do, but I would have to say no to even good things to keep my sanity and priorities. I was never thought growing up that life would require saying no to good things. Her advice has been one I have always remembered.

    1. Such wonderful advice from a very wise woman. It’s hard to say no to good things especially when they are oriented towards serving God and helping people. Those are the times I try to rationalize the most. It’s so hard to remember that God doesn’t NEED me to do anything, that I have my boundaries and I need to stick to them. Thank you for reading Theresa!

  16. I so needed to read this today. I always feel as if I’m overcommitted, just with my every day life. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insight on this topic.

  17. Oh how I can relate to this. I came head to head with this issue this summer when my overdoing it put me in the hospital this still. Trust me when I say that if God can’t get you to slow down he’ll force you to be still. Tweeting several of these quotes!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *