Get outta bed, rush to get breakfast on the table, put together this week's Sunday School lesson, throw some toys at the kids while they take a bath, check e-mail, bake cookies for the neighbors, pack everyone up and rush out the door to a mommy and me meeting, drop kids off with various sitters, run a few errands, pick kids up, run home, put the kids down for a nap, pick up a bit and try to get dinner started, get the kids up to head to a sports game or practice, run back home, practice music for Sunday, throw dinner on the table and head back out the door to go to some friends for games...oh and don't forget the dinner you are bringing to the family at church...get home, get everyone in bed, collapse and get ready to do it all again the next day. I don't know about you but that definitely doesn't sound like the kind of day I want to be having on a regular basis. But for a lot of women, especially the superwoman type, that is how a majority of days go. Sure, the activities might be different, but the rhythm of the day is a constant go-go-go and do-do-do. Why do we let our days get like this? It is a choice, you know. No one forces us to do these things or controls our days, we choose to let our days be filled like this. So why do we choose to do this?
Well, one characteristic of a superwoman is that of a "do-er." For some reason, a lot of us get satisfaction in doing...and doing lots. It's almost like we feel accomplished if our to-do list is bigger than those around us and if we are checking more off of our list than other people. It's like it has become this competition of "Oh, you're doing a gym class, teaching Sunday school, working part time, going to mommy and me classes and volunteering at the church to clean? Well, I'm doing sports lessons for my kids, leading a Bible Study, participating in choir, serving in the church nursery, making homemade gifts and baking cookies for my neighbors. I've got at least one more thing on my list so I'm definitely out-doing you. I'm a bit higher on the superwoman totem pole than you." Of course we would never say this, but don't we think this sometimes when we compare how much we are doing with others or try to keep up with others in the amount we do and commit to? Or maybe it's the opposite, we don't feel better about ourselves because we are doing a bit more than the person next door but we feel worse about ourselves because we aren't keeping up with their list of "do's" so we feel the pressure to add one more thing to our list just to keep up.
Also, I think a lot of us feel like we aren't accomplishing anything if we don't have a big list of to-dos or if we aren't over-committed to one activity after another. It's as if we aren't worth anything if we aren't committing to every opportunity that is presented to us and we aren't keeping our days at a crazy insane pace. If we were to slow down and say no more and commit to less it would be lazy or we wouldn't look as good or we wouldn't be doing enough. It's almost as if we wear a "badge of honor" for doing the most and being the busiest. Don't we often sit down and compare our schedules with each other and wear the badge of pride because of how much we have "booked" for our family's schedule that week or month? I know we would never admit that we do this, but if we're being honest with ourselves I think it happens more than you might think.
I think it's possible too that for some of us, it isn't necessarily a competition of how busy we are or a sense of satisfaction for doing more but it's just that we have allowed our lives to be this way and we haven't thought twice about it. We haven't thought about whether we should be making different choices, saying no more, slowing down....we just keep doing and saying yes and functioning at a crazy pace because it feels normal and it's just how we do things. That doesn't make it ok, but it just means we have made this our "normal" and we don't know how to function any differently. A lot of times we aren't taking the time to really evaluate the things that we choose to do and commit to before we say yes. We aren't considering how it might affect our overall schedule, how it might affect our children, our spouses or other people around us. We just do it and don't think twice.
I think one more reason that some of us like staying busy and doing lots is because it helps us to hide something we don't want to confront. Whether it's loneliness, discontentment, pain, heartache, not liking who we are, or anything else....if we stay busy then we don't think about the pain and we don't have to worry about dealing with it. Really that's just a lie we feed ourselves because it does us more harm to mask our problems and attempt to bury them than it does to just deal with them and move on.
But who decides how much is enough? Who sets this bar of doing, doing, doing and being constantly busy? We set it ourselves when we don't choose to order our lives differently. And why does it matter? Is there something wrong with being busy and constantly "doing"? Well, there definitely can be. I'm sure we are all familiar with the story of Martha in the Bible. She is the stereotypical "do-er" superwoman. :) I've always liked her story because I've always related so much with Martha. Doing lots, making sure I'm checking off the to-do list, keeping everyone happy, cleaning, cooking, taking care of the chores....that's right up my alley. But the reason I love her story so much is because the Lord himself tells her to stop. Not someone else with their own agenda trying to make her life like theirs, but the Lord himself tells her to slow down and re-align her priorities. I love it because it makes me feel like the Lord is speaking to me in those verses to stop, slow down, think about the choices I'm making and set my priorities straight, being intentional about the things I commit to and do and the choices I make. Just like with Martha, oftentimes the things we are doing and keeping busy with aren't necessarily bad things. All the things I listed in the "crazy" day at the beginning of this post aren't bad things in and of themselves. But we can't and shouldn't be doing them all, especially when it is taking away from what our priorities should be. I know a lot of us would try to prove that wrong and we set out to show the world that we can do it all and we can be all. But why? Is there really that much joy and satisfaction in being the best superwoman? I contend that there isn't, even though we may think there is. Also, when we are so busy doing so much and trying to do everything then something will always suffer. Your marriage may suffer, your children may suffer, you may not be doing the best job possible at any of your ministries because you are over-committed and too busy, your relationship with the Lord may suffer, your health may actually suffer. Something will give, it's just a matter of what and when.
So how do we evaluate our list of to-dos and determine whether we need to make some changes...and then how do we make those changes? Well, first of all is to take it to the Lord. I believe we should be praying about the decisions we make, especially when it comes to committing to something that requires a lot of time, like a ministry or a job or regular meetings of some sort. There are plenty of good things out there for us to be doing but that doesn't mean the Lord wants us doing them all. So go before the Lord honestly and be willing to let him tell you no if that is the case. Allow the Lord to create your to-do list, not yourself. Also, I think it is important to evaluate your role in life. If you are a wife and mom then your primary role and ministry is taking care of your husband and children. Other ministries in the church or activities outside of the church should not be taking away from those roles. And if they are it might be time to say no. If you are a young wife, without children, or an older wife with an empty nest, then your primary role is as a wife. You should first be looking at how you can best be helpmeet to your spouse and if you are too busy with commitments or work to be available for your spouse to support and help him then perhaps it's time to re-evaluate your schedule. If you are a single lady then you need to determine what you main ministry is. Your job is going to take a lot of time and commitment and so you should be putting your best efforts in there. But the Lord has also given you more time since you aren't caring for a husband or children so you have more to pour into various ministries. But that doesn't mean you should be doing it all and have your fingers in every available opportunity. You won't be effective if that is the case. Your heart needs to be committed to the ministry the Lord has for you and that is where He will use you and you will be most effective. Finally, it is going to require learning how to say the word "no." I think for a lot of superwomen the word No is like a cardinal sin. You never say no, you always accept whatever task is offered to you, you always commit to whatever is asked of you and you never consider otherwise. But like I've already mentioned, that is not how we should be setting our schedules or making decisions to commit to things. Just because you are asked to do something does not always mean that you are supposed to do it. I think a lot of times people become the person to ask because they become the "yes-man/woman." Others know that you will never say no so you are the first person to ask. So it's not that you are the right person for the job, it's just easiest to ask you because you'll say yes. And it's good to be someone who people know is willing to help and be generous, it shows love. But, that shouldn't be our main motivation in whether or not we say yes or no....what should motivate us and help us make our decision is whether not it is something the Lord wants us to do and whether or not it helps or takes away from our primary role.
I know it is hard to slow down and be intentional about the way we fill our days. I'm writing a lot of this to myself because I'm still learning to cut back and evaluate the way I fill my time. It is easy to just let our days fill up without thinking twice about it and it's oftentimes fun to be involved in everything. But a lot of times we have the wrong motivation behind our to-do list or we aren't being wise about the choices we make to fill our time. Life isn't about having the biggest to-do list and the busiest schedule and showing everyone you can do it all. It's not about how crazy our days can get and how we can still maintain some form of sanity. It is about glorifying God to the utmost and enjoying Him. It's about being exactly where He wants you to be and doing exactly what He wants you to do, which may mean a lot less than you are currently doing because He wants you to invest more in your primary role. But there is a peace and joy that comes with slowing down and being intentional about the way we fill our time and making sure our days line up with our priorities and purpose in life. Choose to let God fill your to-do list today, instead of yourself or others.
It's a crazy blizzard outside so I'm gonna go grab a cup of tea and a sweater and enjoy the scenery while I work on some more adoption boards. (Keep the orders coming, I still haven't gotten info from some of you) Have a beautiful day!
Superwoman Syndrome Part 1
Superwoman Syndrome Part 3
Superwoman Syndrome part 4
Thought-Full Thursday: Hope
7 hours ago