Often the sheer busyness of life overwhelms me.With so much going on, so much I need to do, so many people asking so many things of me, and so little time to do it all, I feel like I can’t breathe.
With college starting back soon, I have been dreading the hectic craziness that I know is about to engulf me. I feel as if I’m standing on the shoreline of an ocean, with my toes only centimeters away from the water, staring out at a massive tidal wave rolling towards me…getting closer…closer….closer…
My instinct is to curl into the fetal position and refuse to think about the wave until it hits me. The problem with that reaction is this–the wave is coming, and it’s going to hit me no matter what I do or how much I fear it. So rather than squeezing my eyes shut and bracing for impact, I have decided to learn how to surf. If I can stay on top of that wave, then I’ll survive. Surfing has always looked like such a thrilling adventure to me. And riding out this school year without falling and sinking will be just as much of a thrilling adventure. So grab your boards everyone, surf’s up!
Step 1: Identify What’s Truly Important
Sure, everything on my plate (or my plate’s waiting list) is important in some way, but what is so important that if it slips, I will start sinking? Perhaps a better way to figure out this answer is to ask, “In 100 years will _______ really matter?” Most things probably won’t make the cut, and whatever does needs to be prioritized above all else. For me, it’s my relationship with Jesus, being a witness for Him, and investing in people.
After figuring out the really big stuff, look at what’s left. At the end of the semester (quarter, week, day, etc.), what in your deepest heart will you really need and want to have done? For me, I want to look back and see that I maintained my relationships with my family, friends, and boyfriend, kept up the required GPA I need for my scholarships, paid what I could of my school bill, took advantage of opportunities for growth and experience, and had some serious fun!
Step 2: Learn to Say “No”
In order to say yes to the things above, I will have to say no to others. And that doesn’t come easy for me. I struggle with saying no for several reasons–the fear of disappointing people, being looked down on, or missing out, the thought that I’m the only one who can do the task, the desire to be Superwoman and power through, and the appeal of the opportunity.
The fact is I am partly to blame for being so busy! Maybe because I took on so much responsibility, maybe because I have unrealistic expectations for myself, maybe because I get caught up in all the possibilities and just want to try it all. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that I am over-committed and stretched too thin.
Once you and I identify what we should say yes to, we’re able to pinpoint what we can say no to. Think of it this way, we say no to one thing so we can say yes to something better. For me, I will say no to continuing extracurricular activities that I have already had the opportunity to do, to pushing myself to get all A’s, and to working every spare hour I have.
Step 3: Clean Out Your Disillusions
I had to take a good, hard look at my expectations for the semester ahead of me. I discovered my disillusions by asking myself the following questions.
- Are you expecting more of yourself than God is?
- Do you think this semester will look just like the expectations in your mind?
- Do you expect bumps in the road, re-scheduling, and cancellations?
- Are you trying to be Superwoman?
- Are you setting certain expectations to please other people?
I honestly believe answering these question cleaned the clutter out of my brain and focused my vision for this coming semester. I know I will need to dust the cobwebs out again every once in a while, because that’s how cleaning works. You do a bang-up job to begin with, then spend a little time here and there maintaining it, so it doesn’t get cluttered again.
Step 4: Embrace the Beautiful
A part of setting realistic expectations is to realize that even after doing all this, I will still be super busy and stressed at times. And that’s where step 4 comes into play. In those busy moments, embrace what’s beautiful. Because there is beauty in every day, every hour, every moment, if you will look for it. Choose to see the good.
You’re busy, yes, but what will be the reward of this temporary busyness?
Are you healthy?
Is it a pretty day?
Is God still in control?
The more you look, the more beauty you’ll find. And clinging to the good, the positive, the beautiful, in moments of stress will give you the reprieve you need. If you are busy, even after following the previous three steps, then the busyness must be worth it to you! Remind yourself why. There’s beauty right there.
I thought of putting this part as another step, but I think it is actually more of a continuous thing and not just a step in the process. Cover your life in prayer. From beginning to end, pray for wisdom, cast your fears and worries on Jesus, and beg Him to direct each and every one of your footsteps. Cling to verses like Proverbs 3:6, Isaiah 26:3, 1 Peter 5:7, and James 1:5. God will bless our quest for sanity in the middle of life’s chaos. After all, God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (1 Cor 14:33).
So, back to surfing. My footing is still a little wobbly, and I’m sure I’ll fall off the board at times. But the key is to get back up. I want to spend more time above water than under! I hear surfing takes a lot of practice, and I’m sure this will too. But with God by my side, I think my board will hold.
Best wishes to you in your surfing adventures! Let me know what you think of the view!!!