The smell of cedar returns me to my childhood church, working with my father in his custodial duties. I sprinkled the cedar shavings on floors and together we swept many a dusty room in our century old building. Although these are pleasant memories for me, I suspect they are less so for Dad. The custodial hat was one of many he wore during that time.
Not only did my father function as part-time janitor for Oreland Baptist, he also served as part-time minister of music. Well, that doesn’t sound so awful, you might think. It wouldn’t be, except that those jobs were piled on top of a full-time position in the parts department of a large car dealership. Add husband, father, son to that and I don’t recall the man having much free time.
I know single folks who work full-time, parent alone and care for aging relatives. Pastors we’ve met are in small churches where they preach, visit, answer phones, clean bathrooms and type up the bulletins. I’m also thinking of friends whose titles are administrative assistant but spend work time grocery shopping, wrapping gifts, caring for their boss’s children, picking up dry cleaning and a host of other tasks far removed from their job descriptions.
The speed at which we need to swap hats and roles can by dizzying at times. Often this can create feelings of isolation and loneliness. We perceive other people’s lives as far more simple and focused than our own. It can seem that peers with similar positions are taking mountains and checking off goals far better than we are. Sometimes I’ve felt exhausted from spending my resources on things that seem completely unrelated to my life goals. How about you?
Multi-tasking and flexibility are terrific strengths to develop. They are qualities employers seek, along with flexibility. So, what can we do to get over that sensation that we are constantly breaking dishes while everyone else is keeping all theirs up in the air?
First, it seems obvious but I will remind you anyway; take your stuff to Jesus. “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’” Matthew 11:28 NLT I like to put the emphasis on me. If we run to people first, they can help us to some degree. If you do this continually, they will dread seeing your number on their screen. Jesus never wearies of us and he’s the only one with the might to change our circumstances and our energy levels.
“They that wait upon the Lord SHALL renew their strength; they SHALL mount up with wings as eagles; they SHALL run, and not be weary, and they SHALL walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NIV If you are shortchanging personal time with God, you are keeping from yourself the very thing that will enable you to withstand this season of life.
I’ve wasted these periods in the past. Don’t just grit your teeth and plow through your juggling acts grimly. This is an opportunity to learn so, so many things, like peace during chaos or joy above negativity. Remember, the trip to the Promised Land was an eleven-day journey. God kept those sillies in the wilderness for 40 years because they refused to listen, obey and grow.
The second thing to consider is that isolation is the enemy’s strategy, not God’s. Our Father created us for relationship. Be apprised that Satan will endeavor to construe your vision. He wants you to believe that you are a failure while others in your line of vision are crossing finish lines. After you’ve carried your troubles to God first, find a key person or two to share your struggles with. Your goal should be prayer support and wisdom not sympathy. Watch out for that victim mentality that Satan wants to saddle you with.
Jonathan not only gifted David with friendship, he also possessed wisdom as to how to best to deal with his looney father, King Saul. Wise friends can view our situations and offer fresh insights. Give them permission to point out things that you might not see. For example, you could be in bondage to perfectionism. You’re not happy even when your plates are all up in the air if some are wobbling!
Frequently we are juggling plates that aren’t ours or should be shared. I overheard a woman complaining to her friend about her siblings not doing their share caring for aging parents. When her friend asked if she had spoken with her sisters she said, “No! But they should just know, shouldn’t they?” I seriously wanted to jump into that conversation.
Another occasion, a woman complained to me that she didn’t know how she could continue to work full time and keep up all her housework, grocery shopping, etc. After a few questions, I discovered that she assigned no household chores to her three teenagers! That’s loco folks! Put those moochers to work at home!
Only God contains every resource, every bit of wisdom and strategy you need to navigate your circus. He alone can grant you supernatural strength beyond your own. Cast all your hats and dishes at His feet every day.