Do you ever think you really are superwoman and try to do everything, all the time? Do you find yourself saying yes to things a lot more than you should? I do. I could be the poster child for someone who says ‘yes’ way too often. If they gave out degrees for overcommitment, I would get a PhD!
For so many years I have lived in the crazy state of overcommitment and didn’t know any different. The cycle is usually this: saying yes to a lot of things at one time, running around like crazy trying to get it all done, then becoming tired and stressed, burning out, begin feeling resentment toward the commitments and then drastically retreating—taking practically everything off my plate that I possibly can. This is no way to live and I blame no one but myself. Can anyone else relate?
In her book, The Best Yes, Lysa TerKeurst says, “Saying yes all the time won’t make me Wonder Woman. It will make me a worn-out woman.” She is so right!
I love helping people and I get excited about new things, new possibilities; but I am now realizing that I have not managed these desires and pursuits well. I believe overcommitment is something that plagues many of us today. Saying yes to things isn’t bad, it’s when we say yes to things without considering the big picture that can get us into trouble.
In this context I am assuming that the decisions being made are all for “good” things. I am not talking about whether we are making immoral or moral decisions, that is a completely different topic. What I am talking about here is making the best decision when opportunities to do “good” things arise.
I am a stubborn person. I think it is one of those bittersweet personality traits. Being stubborn though usually means I learn things the hard way.
One of those golden nuggets of wisdom I recently learned the hard way is this: Just because we ‘are capable or have the skill’ to do something doesn’t mean that we ‘should’ be doing that something. I tried to be superwoman again: this time in front of our whole church and worse yet my family suffered in the process.
One skill that not many people know about me is that I can play drums/percussion. I began playing in middle school and continued through high school. I absolutely love music and playing music I find very enjoyable.
There is no one else in our church who play the drums, at least no one that we know of, and about 6 months after my family and I started attending our church I was asked to practice with the worship team. I was so excited to be asked! I was really nervous though because I had never actually played a full drum set before, but I have always wanted to.
I spent very little time considering what saying yes meant during this season of my life and so I began attending worship practice and quickly became a part of the worship team. In my mind’s eye I thought, God gave me the talent of playing drums so I need to use it, especially at church. Then, about 6 months into signing up for the worship team, I felt God leading me to also help with our church’s youth ministry.
So before I knew it, I was serving on the worship team and leading youth ministry practically every Sunday. Both of these commitments were not just on Sunday morning though. I had worship practice Wednesday nights and Sundays before church; plus, I was preparing lesson plans and activities for Sunday youth class throughout the week and also preparing and hosting the once a month youth night events.
As the year progressed, I added a few others things because they all seemed “good”, like a bimonthly book study with other moms from church, a weekly homeschooling moms support group, and I signed our oldest son up for TaeKwondo.
I am sitting here shaking my head and chuckling a bit as I type just in disbelief that I did it again. I took on so much at one time, especially during this very demanding season of my life with young children. When I started on the worship team our boys were 6 months and 3 years old. Wow was my head in the wrong place. Honestly, I think even someone trying to do all this who doesn’t have young children would be headed for overload.
Around September of last year, I could see the writing on the wall, our household was in constant chaos, I was exhausted all the time and not a very patient mother or wife. Deep down I knew something had to give and it was most likely one of the church ministries. But for awhile longer, stubbornness took the upper hand and I thought if I just made a few changes and navigated things a little differently I could still do it all. I was also feeling a great deal of guilt about possibly having to step away from the commitments I had made.
Of course I was wrong about being able to do it all and near the end of the year I was speeding toward burn out. It became clear that I needed to make some drastic changes in my life right away. My natural instinct was to just drop everything possible, but I knew this wasn’t the right solution.
I remembered a book my mother-in-law had told me about that discusses this very topic of making decisions. It is the book I quoted earlier, The Best Yes. I read through this book as fast as I could and it really lit a fire in me to change my poor habits regarding decisions and commitments. I so appreciate Lysa TerKeurst’s honesty and raw emotions she shares in the book. She really opened my eyes to making wise decisions.
Reading The Best Yes gave me clarity about my situation. I was really being quite selfish and I was asking my family to sacrifice a whole lot in order for me to participate in all these outside activities. With all the things I was trying to do I became a person I did not want to be; I was impatient with my hubby and children and I fell behind on my responsibilities at home. I was not giving my best to my family because I had overcommitted myself once again. Not to mention the fact that I looked like the Tasmanian Devil every Sunday morning and then I would just crash when we got home from church. I knew this wasn’t what God had planned for me or my family. Something had to give. It would have been great if I had been wiser from the start. As they say, hindsight’s 20/20. Sometimes we just have to live and learn don’t we?
After spending a great deal of time in prayer, discussions with my hubby, and seeking counsel from spiritual leaders and friends, I knew that resigning from the worship team was the best choice. There were so many fantastic moments I experienced while on the team and although being on the worship team is a “good thing”, it is not the best thing for me during this season of my life. It was not an easy decision to make, but I know its the best choice and I have peace about it.
I don’t regret the time I spent on the worship team. The group of people involved are amazing and we really built a strong bond amongst the group. Maybe some day I will be able to be a part of the team again, but I know right now is not the time.
Looking back though it is easy to see how quickly we can pile commitments on our plate, especially when it’s “in the name of The Lord”. Being stuck in the crazy cycle of overcommitment is not healthy. Understanding what it means to give my ‘Best Yes’ has been life changing for me. The art of a delayed response is a really valuable skill and one I am in the process of learning. In our fast paced world taking time to respond is anti-cultural. And when you are used to always saying yes, saying no feels awkward.
In the midst of doing all these things to ‘serve God’ I see now that I was really robbing myself and my family of the true joy The Lord wants us to experience. I was trying to ‘do it all’ at the expense of many priceless things. Learning to slow down in our lives and in our decisions is critical to living well-balanced, joyful lives.
It has been almost four months since I resigned from being on the worship team. I won’t lie, seeing that empty seat behind the drum set every Sunday is difficult. It was really painful the first few Sundays after resigning, but the pain is diminishing a little bit each week. I have to keep reminding myself that ‘just because I can, doesn’t mean I should’. I can honestly say that I am living with much more peace. I do not feel constantly stressed and our home is more peaceful. Although a hard one to make, I know I have made the best decision for this current season of my life. Our church family has been so loving and supportive during this difficult decision.
I am still serving on the youth ministry because I feel God has really called me to this ministry. I have a good friend who has been helping me with this ministry for the last several months and I am hoping my hubby will be able to get more involved too. I also have others in the church who are coming forward to help with this ministry so I will be able to delegate much more to them. I have also stepped away from some of the other smaller commitments I had made.
I wanted to share this recent struggle I went through and the wisdom I gained from it in order to help others who may be struggling with a similar situation and who are prone to overcommit, like me. Moms, we are already superwomen, just taking care of our families and homes. God doesn’t want us to be doing this life thing totally frazzled and crazy busy.
Doing ‘good’ things is good, but not at the expensive of our joy or our family’s joy. I believe God will be glorified more when we slow down, look at the big picture, and be more intentional about what we say yes to. As wives and mothers, our decisions do not just affect us. Through this experience, God showed me that just because I have a skill or ability that can fill a need outside my home, doesn’t necessarily mean its the right time for me to fill that need.
If you are stuck in the crazy cycle of overcommitment I want you to know that you can get out. Before you start retreating from all your commitments though, seek God’s wisdom on how to proceed. I highly recommend reading The Best Yes too. I pray that The Holy Spirit will give you guidance on how to reduce your commitments according to His will and to slow down so you can breathe in the joy He desires for you and your family.
May His grace shower you today.
Hi! My name is Mandy Jo.
Thanks for visiting my blog! Being a mom in this modern age is a blessing, but no cake walk. So many expectations are imposed on us and it can be overwhelming and often discouraging.