In addition to Mystery Shopping for extra income, I clean houses for some friends of mine a few hours a week. Today when I discovered that one of my friend’s vacuum cleaner was not working properly, I resorted to using a small stick vacuum tucked away in a closet.
When I first started using the vacuum, I noticed that it bent almost completely in half when I maneuvered it under the kitchen table. “Well that’s nifty!” I thought. “It’s really easy to get this into tight places.”
As I continued to vacuum, what I originally thought was nifty turned into a huge detriment. The vacuum cleaner was *so* bendy that I barely had to apply pressure to get it to bend in half. And it didn’t just bend in one spot, but three! Basically, any time I made the slightest movement with the vacuum, other than going completely straight, the vacuum cleaner would contort in my hands. It would bend when I did not want it to, and when I tried to correct the bending, it would bend in a different spot too.
At one point, I even exclaimed “Whose bright idea for a vacuum cleaner was this, anyway?!” It was beyond frustrating.
Doing the best I could- I continued to vacuum the floors, flipping and flopping every step of the way. That’s when I thought to myself “if this vacuum cleaner would just stay straight instead of trying to do five different things at once, this would be so much easier to do!”
Upon thinking that, I was taken back to a live conference call I participated in a few nights prior. The conference was for the launch of the book: Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, and the author of the book was talking to us about how the first step of getting out of survival mode was saying “no” more often. That’s when her co-host added that when she says yes to too many things, she does a worse job overall at all of her commitments.
Instead of putting all of our focus in one area, we tend to spread ourselves too thin.
It isn’t enough to volunteer your home for a group gathering, but you might also say yes to babysitting your niece that afternoon, taking a meal to a first-time mom that evening, and shopping for/providing all of food and beverages for your guests that night. Meanwhile, the entire time you babysit, you are stressed about getting the new mom’s meal made in time. And when you arrive to the new mom’s house, you feel you have to rush out to get your home in order. All of this while your own children are pulling on your shirt pleading for you to read them a book while dirty dishes multiply in the sink.
We are pulled in multiple directions. Instead of a solid, direct result of conscientious work, we bend ourselves unnecessarily and complicate everything around us. Like the vacuum cleaner- if we could just maintain our posture well enough to complete the task at hand, our job can be completed in a timely manner and done well. Otherwise, the end result is a flip floppy performance in everything we take on.
My question for you tonight is: are you bending too much? Have you said “yes” to too many commitments and feeling your life spiral around you? Maybe it’s time for us to re-evaluate exactly what it is God is calling you to do and start saying “no” to other thing that take away from that.
The next time you are asked to take something on, ask yourself these questions:
1) Why am I considering taking this on? Am I passionate about it? Am I doing it to impress others with my strengths? Or do I feel obligated?
2) Do I have time for this? How much of a time commitment will this require today, next week, or beyond? Am I ready to give up something else in order to fit this in?
And most importantly:
3) Does this fall in line with or take away from what I feel God is calling me to do?
While there is certainly nothing wrong with taking on any of the aforementioned tasks, sometimes in the context of our everyday lives, any one commitment is enough to tip the scale in a delicate balance of living with purpose. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed this weekend, take a step back and re-evaluate.
Pray about it.
And don’t be afraid to lay down your superman cape and admit “If I continue to bend, I am going to break.”