“I just can not do all of the things ALL of the time,” I found myself exclaiming through hot tears to my husband. “I am so sorry that I got frustrated and then took it out on you.”
My Dad stopped by during witching hour. (You know, that hour of the day when all your children simultaneously lose their minds while you try to cook dinner and then you find that you are all crying in the kitchen together.) I needed to give my dad a shot. (I am a nurse by trade.) I couldn’t find the alcohol to clean his arm with. ANYWHERE.
In the midst of attending to the unhappy children, trying to cook dinner, and searching for the alcohol, I freaked out. Then I blamed my husband (who wasn’t even home) that I couldn’t find the rubbing alcohol.
Naturally, he found it as soon as he got home…in the box in our linen closet labeled “FIRST AID”.
When I say I freaked out, I mean that I freaked out on him and inside of my head. I may have kept my cool in the moment, but suddenly everything was wrong (and it was his fault) and it all came crashing down. As I’m sure you can imagine, this had almost nothing to do with rubbing alcohol. (Or my husband.)
When we landed on the series the “Yellow Canary of Joy,” Christina explained its meaning and it caught me off guard. I started considering all of the things that I am committed to in my life and wondering if, like toxic gases in the mines, perhaps some of them were starting to be toxic...and I was unaware.
Was my Joy Canary still singing?
I work 30 hours a week as a nurse and sit on a committee. I co-lead a women’s small group every week. I blog and do social media for MooLily. We actively participate in our church. We have three beautiful girls. Our daughter Emmaus has lots of medical needs, and therapy needs- I jokingly say that I am her part time administrative assistant, except it isn’t a joke at all. I am active with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, (the disease Emmaus has). And when it all shakes out about every minute of every day is accounted for.
And that doesn’t bring me joy.
A few weeks ago we had a beautiful spring-like week in the middle of February. More than anything I wanted to take my two littlest girls to the zoo. I sent them with the Nanny instead, because I couldn’t adjust my schedule to make it happen. Just typing that truth makes my heart hurt.
I am a HUGE believer in not glorifying busyness, in leaving room to rest. And yet I look at my schedule and it would suggest otherwise. I am involved in a lot of REALLY GOOD things. But if they aren’t life giving, or bringing me joy- then even if they are good things- it doesn’t make them good for me.
It also doesn’t help that I have a fat list of other things I truly would like to do.
Don’t get me wrong. Not everything we do in life will be a joyful task. Some things might even be painful, or just really really hard. But when I step back and look at my life and see so many good, joy-filled things in it, yet the sheer volume of them takes away the joy- there is a problem.
You guys- my canary isn’t singing. In fact, it might be plain old dead.
Are any of you in this boat with me? How do I even begin to decipher which good things stay? And which good things I part with?
I think we start with viewing all of the things that fill our time by sorting them into “necessary” and “accessory”. While I would obviously love to cease being “Emmaus’ Administrative Assistant,” or decrease my time at work, both of those things are NECESSARY. However- I can easily identify ways to make both of those things flow more easily in my life.
I think we have to view the “Accessory” commitments through the filter of what God is calling us to do. If you have a clear view of where God wants you, then this is pretty straightforward. If not, I would encourage you to spend time ASKING God to give you a clear direction for this season of life.
If you, like me, tend to dive in without testing the waters (or even being sure there is water), and quickly say YES to the good things that you are excited about, then you might even consider asking a trusted friend, spouse or parent, to help guide you.
In the conversation with my husband when I freaked out, he graciously said to me, “I feel like you are so passionate about things, and you see their potential, and so you just say YES. I think I have done a poor job of helping you corral that passion, so you don’t end up so overwhelmed.”
It is really hard for me to see something that is so good and so full of potential but CHOOSE to bless it while not actively participating in it. So if you, like me, are a YES woman, then for heavens sake find a buddy to challenge you and help you process through things before you commit to them.
It takes time and effort to declutter our lives. But we are creatures who need Joy. So if you, like me, have found your canary dead, then I urge you dear friends to take the time to do it.
I want to be a women who is living a life of Joy, who is serving the Lord, making an impact for the kingdom. AND who has room to breathe in her daily schedule.