“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.
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.
When we don’t stick to our God-given boundary lines:
- Every aspect of our lives and household struggles to function normally.
- We don’t have the extra capacity to handle life’s hardships because our resources are already depleted.
- 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
- 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?
- First things first. – God’s blessings are the natural result of spending daily time with Him in prayer and Bible study.
- 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.
- 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.
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 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.
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