Don’t we all get tired from the daily grind? If your life has been anything like mine, then you have experienced the exhaustion that accompanies working a full time job (and a half), raising children, being in a committed relationship, fielding phone calls from family and friends with issues affecting them, and the list goes on. Don’t we women do it all?!
There are some days that I felt that I had it all under control, and other days that I was sure one of the many balls I was juggling would fall. I became determine to keep all of the balls in the air and to succeed at keeping the house clean, driving the kids to all of their games, making healthy, home cooked meals, being the best litigation attorney, and the list goes on. The perfectionist tendencies that I exhibited even as a young child were in full effect, and I was going to make sure that things stayed that way: perfect.
We as women are under a significant amount of pressure to juggle the demands of family, work, home responsibilities, etc. While some of that pressure is placed on us by outside forces or required of us due to decisions that we have made in life, a lot of the pressure that we experience as women is self-imposed. We have been programmed by society that the women best adept at handling it all while wearing heels and keeping her makeup flawless is the ideal. However, what we fail to see when we hold this woman up as the standard is that same sister behind the veil–crying, stressed, and unhappy.
The reason that we get so burned out in life is because we try to do it all by ourselves. We not only develop the plan, but we also carry it out and then evaluate the plan when we feel we have completed it. The burden of “our plan” versus God’s design for our lives becomes so heavy because we do not trust God or others to help us to accomplish the tasks. It can also become burdensome when we make plans for our lives that are not in alignment with God’s perfect will.
To be sure, if what we purpose to do in our lives is not of God, it will be unnecessarily burdensome. Not challenging, but BURDENSOME! Similar to an ox moving a plow, the yoke of our own decision making will become heavy and unbearable, and our physical bodies will not hold up against the pressure. Eventually, we buckle.
When we are misplaced, doing too much, or walking in our own way and not God’s way, we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders and it affects our disposition, attitude, and treatment of others. We grow resentful, and begin to operate under a spirit of self versus God’s grace. When that happens, not only are we unhappy, but our spouses and children become unhappy, too.
Our bodies, no matter how carefully cared for, are not meant to last forever. It doesn’t mean that we are not supposed to take care of our health, but it is a recognition that there are limits to our physical (and mental) abilities. There is only so much sleep deprivation and coffee that our bodies can take. God puts limits in each area of our lives to make us aware of who He is and to be fully dependent on Him for our needs.
Women, it is time for us to self-examine the choices that we make in our lives and ways that we can limit or eliminate some of the pressure we experience. I hear my sisters out there saying “I can’t do that. I wish I could! But I have to keep my job and my kids aren’t going to take care of themselves, so what am I supposed to do?!”
Ladies, the first thing that we must do to address this issue is to take a step back and examine our decision making. Ask yourself these questions: “Is there anything that I am presently involved in or doing that is making it difficult to sleep, eat healthy, exercise, or pray? Do I feel closer to God when I am involved in these activities, or do I feel a sense of obligation or duty? Do I feel balanced? Are these things making it difficult to have a relationship with God, my significant other, my family, friends, co-workers, boss, or mentor?
If we are honest with ourselves and each other, we can admit that at least one (if not more) of the things that we are presently involved in creates a level of stress and anxiety that makes it difficult to sleep or has caused our weight to skyrocket. While we may not be able to get rid of all of the stress that life can bring, there are some commitments that we make, jobs that we take on, or significant others that we get attached to that must go if we are to continue to be fruitful and grow.
The second step to confront this issue is to ask God to reorder our lives in a way that is healthy. Too often, we are afraid to ask God to come in and to realign our priorities because we think we are doing a great job, or because we are afraid of what God will say if He takes a peek into our mess. However, we must understand that He already sees our stress, our bills, the crying kids and the micromanaging boss. He has been watching you trying to juggle all of the balls in the air and keep your pantyhose from running. He sees all of this because you are His child and, more importantly, He LOVES YOU!
Jesus says to us “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burdens are light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) Likewise, 1 Peter 4:5 (NIV) says “Cast all of your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
If you desire to remove the heavy yoke of exhaustion and tiredness off of your life, repeat this prayer with me:
Lord, I feel exhausted. I recognize that there may be things going on in my life or decisions that I have made on my own that have caused me to stray away from you and create anxiety, frustration and exhaustion in me. Father, lift the heavy burden from me and reorder my life and my priorities to align with your perfect will. Allow me the time and space to maintain a healthy, intimate relationship with you and with those that you have placed in my path. Give me the gift of the Holy Spirit, to help me to make wise decisions for myself and my family and to constantly remind me of your Word. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
About two weeks ago I received a personal phone call from one of my Board Presidents, who I respect a great deal. He asked me if I would be interested in running for a seat on the highly coveted Executive Committee, a position that is ordinarily awarded to much senior board members and one that I had my eye on for a some time.
When I told him that I needed time to think about it, there was a long pause at the other end of the phone. He told me that I only had 48 hours to think about it before throwing my hat in the race. He also “laid it on thick” and complemented me on the work that I had done for the Board and the respect that he and other members of the Board had for me.
Those 48 hours seemed like one of the longest periods in my life! I thought about how important diversity issues are for me, and how this position could really allow me to advocate for more diversity within the organization’s leadership ranks. I also thought about how great of a feather it would be in my cap, and even about how the role could lead to my future election as Board President!
But when I took a step back, prayed, and stilled myself, I found my answer. I politely called him back, thanking him for considering me for the position but respectfully declining a nomination. At first, he seemed very disturbed and caught off guard by my response. However, later in our discussion he invited me to express my concerns freely with him and to advise him if there are projects that I have a special interest in.
Immediately after our discussion ended, I thanked God for ordering my steps and giving me the strength and wisdom to look past myself and my own will and to instead stay in the place of rest that He had given me. I thanked Him for reminding me that things that I say no to, no matter how good of a purpose they may serve, are making room for me to be more effective in and focused on the tasks that He has called me to do.
There are some commitments in our lives that will always require our attention, and God is there every step of the way to help us to accomplish those assignments. But we must stay prayerful that we do not lump the things that are truly optional into the “required” basket; otherwise, we may end up in a hospital room or worse yet, in an early grave.