This morning, I filled the sugar bowl.
It was amazing. I paused for a moment, reveling in the luxury of having the time to spend on such a simple thing.
A month ago, I would have let it sit empty for days —- possibly weeks. I would have chugged my morning coffee with a little extra creamer, telling myself, “I’ll get to it later, when I have enough time,” knowing full well that I would never have enough time.
A month ago, I was Superwoman. A single mom, raising two kids by herself. A provider, working multiple jobs to pay the bills. A music minister, in charge of the music every week for two different churches.
I was sprinting madly down the path to burnout.
And yet … I resisted the urge to take anything off of my over-full plate. How could I drop anything? I needed all of those jobs, to support my family. And wouldn’t I be disobedient to the calling on my life if I dropped either of the church jobs? People were depending on me.
There were some weeks I cried on the drive home. “Please, Lord, let me have some rest. I can’t handle all this anymore.”
I have mistrusted the phrase, “work-life balance,” in much the same way I have resisted trying avocado toast. I was born at the tail end of the Generation X latchkey kids. “Aren’t we SUPPOSED to work, and produce, and strive? Keep your head down. Do your job. You weren’t born for ‘self-fulfillment.’ Nobody is going to hand you a trophy just for showing up, and nobody is going to help you. Now go be productive.”
While it is true that the calling of a believer is not to please oneself, but to put God at the center of one’s life, is it truly God-pleasing to be so constantly busy with tasks that we neglect the priceless gift of time that He has given us?
What was I running away from? Or was I secretly getting a tiny bit of gratification, whenever someone’s eyes widened as I described all my responsibilities? It didn’t start out that way, but as time went on and the loads got heavier and heavier, that little twinge of validation was rapidly becoming the only thing I had left.
Then one week, as I was driving home from church with exhausted tears spilling down my face yet again, I accepted it. It was time for me to pass the baton. One of my churches had expanded to the point where they had other capable musicians who could pick up the load if I left.
It was painful. It meant leaving something that I had built and passing it on to other people. I had invested a lot of time, work, prayer, and emotional energy there. But deep down, I felt that inner peace that meant that it was okay, and that I had permission to —- finally —- rest.
Life is made of seasons. There is a season for planting, and a season for harvesting. A season for work, and a season for pausing in labor. I think the key lies in discerning which season is beckoning us, outside the window.
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
There are times when God speaks in the thunder and the earthquake, but there are also times when He speaks in the still, small voice. In returning and rest. In quietness and confidence.
Christ is the One who gives us strength, and He will enable us to fulfill His calling on our lives when we look to Him. I pray that I —- and all of us —- would have the discernment to see which things are truly wise, worthy investments of the precious time that He has allowed us to live, and which things are self-imposed, or perhaps simply no longer “in-season.” And that we would all be able to stop, take a breath, and fill the sugar bowl.