Have you ever felt like that? "I can't keep up!" Maybe it is because you have young children, or you work outside the home and are gone more than you are home. Maybe you are sick for a few weeks with the flu, or recovering from surgery, or fighting cancer, or dealing with depression or a chronic illness. Maybe it is because you've tried the 28 Day Challenge and found it more challenging than you expected. Over the past number of years (and even this week!!) I have found myself saying it again -- and again -- and again. As soon as I would feel like I was going in the right direction something new would happen to throw me off track - a car accident, a family member in the hospital, a teen that was struggling, caring for a sick relative, a death in the family, major surgery, depression... During each of those times and many others, I found myself sitting on the floor in despair thinking. "I can't keep up, and I'm supposed to be the one encouraging others that they can do it! And I feel like a complete failure as a wife, as a mother, as a homemaker, as "Mrs. GraceWorks" and as a friend."
Here are some things that God has been teaching me over the past number of years...
1. I don't have to keep up, I just have to keep going.
It is so easy to get overwhelmed when you feel like you aren't enough. I know that some people that have taken the 28 Day Challenge have felt like that. "If I can't do it all, why bother with any of it!". And I know that I have struggled with it myself. It would be so wonderful if I *loved* housekeeping and was an amazing decorator and was always be on top of things. But I am not. Seriously - I missed a chiropractor appointment yesterday afternoon that I had just scheduled in the morning... and it was even written down in my planner! That is just not the area that I am gifted in, and most days I know that and I am content that I am making progress. BUT... when I am sick, or off schedule, or struggling with anxiety and depression I become heartsick that I can't do it all. It is then that God has reminded me that I don't have to keep up with everything, I just have to keep going. Keep doing my morning routine. Keep spending time in God's Word. Keep loving my husband and children. Keep doing the dishes and the laundry. Just keep going. The time will come when you can "catch up" and begin again.
2. Be careful with comparisons.
Comparing myself with others is a sure way to become discouraged. I am not FLYlady and I am not Suzy Homemaker that writes amazing blog posts everyday in between writing books on how to deep clean your house every 30 days. I am just a girl that loves my Lord and my family and my home and wants to manage my time and my home to the glory of God. I cannot compare myself with you or anyone, but only place myself in God's hands so He can teach me and use me as He sees fit.
3. Embrace your new normal.
Each season brings new challenges, and our schedules need change to reflect that, but often it is hard to embrace the new requirements if we haven't first yielded to the change that has made them necessary. The longer I try to make my old schedule work under my new circumstances, the more frustrated I will become, but if I can yield the area that I am struggling with to the Lord and realize that He has me right here - right now - for a reason, then I can adjust my schedule to reflect how God is currently working in my life.
4. Just because you can't do everything it doesn't mean that you can't do anything.
When I am sick or depressed my first reaction is to want to curl up in a corner and do nothing. God is teaching me, though, that I can still do something - even if it is small. Making my bed takes just a few minutes, as do other tasks, and just a little bit here and there will make my home a more peaceful retreat for those I love. And when I really am unable to function, I am learning that even then I can I can be a blessing to others by my reactions to them and my efforts to stay sweet and trustful under pressure.
5. God has me in this situation right now for a purpose of His own.
Sometimes we can get worn down when we have been dealing with a chronic illness or a life event like long days with young children or caring for aging parents that doesn't seem like it will ever end. We feel like we will never be enough for all our responsibilities and we begin to pity those around us that everything isn't perfect, and start to think "it's all my fault!" - which just leads to self-pity and hopelessness. Friend - it isn't true. Your current circumstance is a gift. It comes from God and is the way that He desires to use you right at this moment. It may be that He is giving you the gift of rest that comes wrapped in a package of suffering, or the gift of experience that is wrapped in the package of daily service. But if you unwrap your gift lovingly, you will find that He will both draw you closer to Himself and give you a greater heart of compassion for others. Ask God for the wisdom to be thankful for whatever season your life is in just at this moment.
6. A planner is my friend - and also my mind.
My planner is so important to me - whichever planner or notebook I happen to be using at the moment. It is the place I can put my checklists, my appointments, my goals, my devotional thoughts. It can be my mind when I cannot seem to think clearly and remind me of things that are important when I can't remember them myself. Even when I don't complete everything or forget to write in it for a day or two, it is there when I am ready to move ahead and will help me as much as I let it.
7. I cannot go backward, I can only go forward.
No matter how much I might wish that I could go back to the time "before that thing happened", it really can never be. I'm learning to take what worked "back then" and adjusting it to where I am right now. For example - when we were homeschooling we always had an afternoon rest period where I could get some things done that I needed to do before the day was over and we could all have some "alone time". I am no longer homeschooling, but I now have a little dog who becomes very stressed when I go into the basement to pack orders, do laundry or make a card. Using things that worked in the past, but adapting them to my current situation, I am starting to give her a rest period in her kennel each afternoon so I am free to do what I need to do downstairs. Sometimes, though, things just don't work any more, and I am learning to pray for guidance in these situations. Often that means I will struggle for a bit trying this and that before God shows me the path to take. Moving forward sometimes involves a road block or a detour, but with God as our guide we are safe on the path.
8. No matter what my circumstances, I can be a blessing to someone else.
We have a beautiful woman in our church who is such an encouragement to me because of her sweet spirit in spite of the fact that she has multiple medical problems. Though she is often in pain, her smile lights up the room so that you would never know that she was uncomfortable. Oh, that I might be that encouragement to others!!
9. What I do today might not be possible tomorrow.
One thing I am realizing more and more is that different days have different limitations. One day I might feel great and get through my entire daily checklist and more. On other days, though, it is difficult to even make my bed and do the dishes. I think what I need to do is to work on a separate checklist for "those days". I need to think through what is possible on my hard days and make a checklist that takes into account my need for rest and the possibility that I won't be able to make decisions well. It needs to break down my "must do's" into bite sized chunks that I can work on in five or fifteen minute intervals, allowing me to get something done even though I won't get everything done. I'm going to work on that over the next few weeks, because it is definitely something I need.
10. "There is nothing that I lack in my current situation that He does not make up for in Himself."
I read that quote somewhere and wrote it down in my devotional notebook. I want it to become a part of who I am. Any lack that I may perceive in myself or my health or my possessions is not worth mentioning. Christ is all I need and will overflow from my life to others if I yield myself to Him fully. Oh, that you and I would be a channel of His grace to others!!
I know that I've rambled a bit with this post, because I have been thinking it out and writing from my heart over a number of days - some of which I was struggling in the very ways I talked about. I pray that you won't get discouraged and that you will join me in moving forward day by day by day.
Have a blessed day, my friends, as you plan to be a blessing to those that God brings into your path!!