I reread an interesting book yesterday. I do book reviews for a local radio station and this was one of those books that landed on my desk a while ago. I read immediately, wrote my review and then went on with my very busy life.
Yesterday I found out that the station never received my review and I can't find it anywhere so I picked up the book and gave it another read. I was trying to get through it fast because I had a million things to do. I had a lesson plan for a student team to prepare, another lesson plan for a crafting club I run, minutes to type for a parent council meeting I was secretary for, emails to review about a playground reno committee I'm on, clothes to iron for the kids for picture day today, horse homework for Dude's Equine Therapy class plus we had to pack up Simon and deliver him back to his previous owners (sad, frustrating and overly dramatic story that I will not get into) and then there was all the regular mom work of cooking, cleaning, laundry, baths and bedtime to do too. I had a weeks worth of work to get done in four hours.
By the time I dragged myself to bed at midnight and picked up the book for another read, I was exhausted and frustrated. I had only finished about half the stuff that needed to get done and what I did manage to do, I did not do well. I remembered what the gist of the book was about but as I skimmed page after page I felt like I was being slapped to attention. The whole book is about obligation, over commitment and how 'the shoulds' will sap your life's calling out of you and leave you ruined if you let them rule your life.
Just what I needed to hear. So often I say 'yes' to things I don't want to do because I want people to like me, I don't want to leave things undone and I want to feel like I am contributing to the community. I have over committed myself to the point of madness, vowing to never do it again, but when asked ... I always do it again.
There's a story in the Bible about two sisters, Mary and Martha. They had a whole bunch of people, including Jesus, over to their place one day. Martha busied herself in the kitchen, desperate to make everything just so. I can just picture her cooking and cleaning and fussing over every last detail in hopes of presenting the perfect meal to her guests. I'm sure she imagined the compliments she would receive and the resulting sense of accomplishment and pride she would feel for a job well done. She was working hard but they would love and appreciate her for it.
Martha waited for her sister to join her in the preparations but she waited in vain. Mary never came to help. As Martha slaved away by herself, Mary hung out with the guests, visiting, catching up and learning from Jesus. As time wore on Martha become bitter and resentful towards her sister. Martha was exhausting herself while Mary relaxed with friends. How is that fair?
When Martha whined to Jesus about Mary's laziness Jesus essentially told her to relax and figure out what is really important. He pointed out that Mary had decided what was important to her and did it, without guilt, worry or fear. Jesus told Martha that she was worrying about too many little things when all she needed to do was focus on what was really important to her.
How often do we run around, worrying about every little thing, and lose focus on what really matters? Why do we, as moms and wives, so readily commit to every good cause without stopping to think if this 'good cause' is good for us and our families? Why can't we say 'no' without feeling guilty? Why do we allow our self esteem to rest on the opinion of others rather than embracing and feeding into our strengths?
If ever there was a timely word spoken, or written, to me, it was now, with this book. I have been running from one obligation to the next at the expense of my family and my mental well being, at times. I want to do everything, to please everyone but what I really need to do is reassess my commitments and filter each request for my time from the perspective of my strengths, my life direction and what is best for my family. Once I streamline my commitments I know I will be a happier, more productive wife, mother and volunteer.
The book is Sand to Pearls by Heidi McLaughlin and look for the full review on Manitoba Christian Online in the days to come.