So, if my previous post is you. If you are saying, “Whoa! This is exactly what I am struggling with right now!” If you are dealing with stress, busyness, and anxiety, I want to share with you some practical things you can do to apply this lesson to your life. These things have really helped me keep busyness in check. I hope they help you too!
1. Tithe your time.
We all understand the principle of tithing. I’ve often heard it said that if you tithe (10%), God will help you do more with the 90% you have leftover than you could ever do with the 100% you began with. I feel the same principle can apply to our time. If we make time for God no matter what, He will help the remaining minutes of our day stretch so that we can accomplish what we need to get done that day .
2. Submit your schedule to the Lord.
Simply lay out your schedule before the Lord and ask Him if there is anything He wants you to remove or add for the day. Seems simple but it really helps in keeping the right priorities. Submit your will and desires to Him and let His will be accomplished in you.
3. Trust Him to help You manage your time.
Proverbs 3:5-6 is my favorite scripture and I reference it often; especially when I am struggling to trust God in any area.
“5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV)
This scripture is such a good reminder that if I acknowledge Him in all my ways He will direct my paths. If I acknowledge Him in trying to manage my responsibilities and schedule, He will give me direction and help me prioritize and accomplish His will. “His will” is the key phrase because sometimes the things that seem important to us may not be what He has in mind for us to do.
4. Choose to Cheat!
There is a great book out there titled, “Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide?”. The basic premise is summed up well in the book’s synopsis,
“Work. Family. Church. Hobbies. Fitness. Housekeeping. Socializing. Sleep. With only 24 hours in each day, we simply can’t fit everything in. And what we choose to cheat is a clear announcement of our values. When you come home an hour earlier, miss a round of golf, or let the dishes sit while you play with your child, you make your family feel valued and secure. Bestselling author Andy Stanley helps you restore your vision of what really matters – and guides you in making courageous decisions about your time.”
5. Choose what is important, not urgent.
In the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, author Stephen Covey shares what he calls the Urgent/Important Matrix. This tool can help in thinking about what is really urgent/important and what just seems urgent/important. Here are some examples of the matrix:
The basic idea is to prioritize tasks and try to spend most of your time on things that fit into Quadrant II. Subsequently, you then try to manage things in Quadrant I and avoid/limit things in Quadrant III and IV. I’ve never made a list of things I have to do and plugged them into quadrants, but it does help to have tools like this to reference when thinking about priorities. The biggest thing this tool helped me with was realizing not every “urgent” thing is “important”.
1. Take a time-out.
When things get overwhelming, just stop for a moment. Take some time out to reflect and rethink your priorities.
2. Meditate on God.
Be still and quiet in His presence. Listen for His voice. It’s amazing how refreshing this is and how, when you stop and listen, He will speak to you and give you direction.
3. Take one thing at a time.
Looking at the big picture is important, but if that is your sole focus, things can get overwhelming pretty fast. Breaking things down into smaller more achievable task can take things from overwhelming to manageable. Usually, I look at the big picture and then break it down into smaller tasks. I then start at task one, and then move on to two, until eventually the big picture is accomplished.
4. Give yourself a break.
Although we wish we could be super heroes and have super powers to accomplish everything we think needs to get done, it’s just not possible. Be realistic and give yourself a break. You can’t and shouldn’t do everything. You are human. It’s okay. That’s exactly how God made you. Do what you can do and trust God with the rest. The key here is realistic expectations for yourself.
5. Stop the comparison game.
This can be the one thing that tops it all off. You are having a rough week, you didn’t have time to get to the grocery store, and for dinner all you have are the makings for a couple dry PB&J’s. You sit down to breathe for a moment, scroll your NewsFeed, and see that so-and-so just made a four-course meal, cleaned their entire house, and used the spare time they had to make a new dress. (Insert feelings of being a complete loser here.) This is where we have to stop things before they snowball out of control. First we must realize that, often in social media, people post about the good things on the good days. You rarely see a post that says, “Having a rough day today, no time to go to the grocery store, so we’re having a couple dry PB&Js for dinner.”, with a picture of those dry PB&J’s attached. We must stop comparing our bad days to everyone’s good days. They are human just like us and have good and bad days just like us. (Notice, I’m using “we” and “us” a lot. I’m preaching to the choir here.) The bottom line is: We are who God made us to be. You are you and I am me. (No Dr. Seuss puns intended.) God made us the way we are with gifts, talents, abilities, a personality and temperament that are unique to us. Comparing ourselves to other people with their own unique gifts, talents, abilities, personality, and temperament is silly because we could never be like them. Why? Because you’re you and I am me. It’s simple really: We must stop comparing ourselves to someone we’re not, because we’ll never be someone we’re not. You are you. I am me and I digress… Ha! Are you confused? I think I just confused myself…lol!
RECOGNIZING WARNING SIGNS
Lastly, it has always helped me to watch for warning signs of a bigger problem. Looking back at Martha, her warning signs were frustration with Mary, stress, anxiety, etc. They all pointed to the bigger issue: she needed to go back to her first love. Recognizing your warning signs takes a lot of effort and involves being honest with yourself. It requires you to know yourself and your tendencies. It’s important to remember that focusing on the warning signs does not fix the root problem. These are only signals that there’s a bigger issue. Just like when you’re sick. Often treating the symptoms you are having is not enough, you have to use the symptoms to figure out the root cause. If you can learn to recognize your personal warning signs, they can be really helpful in identifying root problems.
This list is by no mean exhaustive, but here are some warning signs that I personally watch for:
– feelings of condemnation
– thoughts of comparison
– feeling overwhelmed
– feeling like I have to be perfect
– feeling angry, frustrated, or taken advantage of when serving others
– feeling underappreciated
Anytime I feel any of the above, I try (I’m not always successful) to recognize them and take time out to pray and think. More often than not what ends up happening is: I’ll pray about the warning sign (the stress I feel, etc) and God will reveal to me the bigger problem (misaligned priorities, etc). This is the key: make God your first line of defense against any negative feelings you may be having; against any warning sign. He will reveal to you the root cause. Again going back to the story of Mary and Martha, we see that Martha went to the Lord about the symptom (Mary not helping) and God revealed to her the bigger problem (she needed to choose the good part). What an awesome example for us today!
Along with making God our first line of defense, it’s important to recognize that we can’t always trust/rely on our feelings, we have to trust/rely on our God instead. Feelings are up and down. To base anything on our feelings alone is a recipe for disaster. But if we make our foundation God Almighty, we will find true stability amidst the ups and downs of our emotions.
If you are facing stress, anxiety, condemnation, whatever it may be, take it to the Lord and let Him bring revelation to your heart. Allow His Spirit to expose the root cause and deliver you! Trade “Martha’s anxiety” for “Mary’s peace and rest in His presence”. Trade “Martha’s distraction with serving” for “Mary’s focus on worship”. I promise you that you’ll see an incredible difference in your life!
Help us to keep the right focus in the forefront of our minds: YOU! I pray you would help us keep everything in balance and guard us from losing clarity and becoming clouded in our thinking. Let us maintain the right perspective; a holy perspective. Enable us to look at life clearly with our spiritual eyes and walk through life filled with Your peace and rest. Help us to manage our time effectively and submit our will to Yours. Enable us to recognize the warning signs of root problems in our lives. Let us bring them to You, so that You can bring us to deliverance! Touch each person reading this today. Lead them on a life changing path to deliverance from busyness, stress, and anxiety.
In Jesus’ name! Amen!