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Living a Life of Less | Stress & Commitments

A few years ago I found myself over committed, stressed out, burnt out and tired out. I felt the burn out coming on for awhile but I didn’t know what to do. Well, I did know what to do, it was time to drop some extra curricular activities, but what? Pretty much everything we had going on were good Christian activities: leading youth, leading Bible Study, VBS each summer, volunteering with immigrants, and various other church and outreach activities.

It wasn’t until one day that it hit me. I was sitting in my van (yes, I drive a mini van), after checking out yet another youth group that I was thinking of volunteering with, and I realized that in order to come help out and be a light to these children I was needing to leave my own child in the care of someone else. And that just seemed wrong.

(Not that I am saying it’s bad to get a babysitter or anything like that (parents need days off too!)
but at this point I was so over involved that I found that Raeca was spending
too much time with others and not enough time with me and vise versa)

It was at that point that I decided to start dropping some activities. To be honest; I felt bad about it. I felt guilty, and like I needed to make up some really good excuses as to why I couldn’t help out anymore. But do you know what?
It was worth it.

Are you in that over committed, burnt out boat right now? If you are, I know what you are going through.

I was just talking about my own activities, if I factor in all the things that Jared is/was a part of and things like Raeca’s ballet and swimming and various other activities it adds up really fast.

I think a huge part of our stress these days is self induced as a result of over committing ourselves.

In the hugely popular book Love Does Bob Goff explains that he quits something every Thursday. Sometimes it’s little things and other weeks it’s big things.

I’m not going to make this post too long today. The truth is, all our lives look so different, you know which areas are stressing you out or those times when it is so hard for you to say no to people. You know the changes that need to take place in your life .

Today is a new day, a Thursday, what could you quit today?

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  1. umm yes!!! Definitely know that feeling and its one where you feel like you can’t do anything in, but just saying no to something is really enough! Get that! Saying no to something every Thursday would really make me think about what…..thank goodness I’m a day ahead of you and its Friday reading this now haha! will think about that next week 😉

  2. Great topic! “I think a huge part of our stress these days is self induced as a result of over committing ourselves.” — This part really hit home for me. I definitely could stop over committing myself. I tend to have a hard time saying ‘no’ to people (in life + online), so I end up taking on too many ‘favors’ for others, then have no time for myself. This is a great topic that’s food for thought… thank you!

    PS – How adorable is that picture of Raeca?! Too cute!

    1. I couldn’t agree more.
      That has certainly been my experience over the last few years, though I might have overdone it a bit and am know lacking some purpose in life…!

  3. this is probably my favorite post in this series so far! over commitment is completely a source of stress!! i honestly don’t know how parents do it! right now all i do is work, go to church, go to small group, family gatherings, and very seldomly hang out with friends and i am just so burned out all the time! a lot of it is family stuff because both of our families live in town & plan so many things. i know we just can’t keep doing them all, but it’s so hard when it’s family & you can’t really get out of it! if we say we can’t make it to something they reschedule. it’s crazy!

  4. I needed this! I have been so over committed lately, especially with blogging, training, work, school and friends. It’s overwhelming and I hate doing a bunch of things poorly. i’d rather do a few things with passion and engagement. I like the idea of quitting something every week but honestly, I can’t imagine where to start! I guess I’ll have to look into this book. One thing that’s worked for me is not saying “yes” immediately and telling people that I’ll let them know if I can do x and y. Gives me time to question if I actually have the time.

    1. I definitely don’t quit something every week but when Thursday rolls around I sometimes think to myself, “is there something I need to quit today?”. It’s a good time to do some evaluation on my commitments.

  5. My Pastor has always said that your first ministry is your home and family. If those fall apart then everything else falls apart so you HAVE to take care of those, even if it means backing out of important things elsewhere. There is such thing as doing too much and being too busy. You did the right thing!

    1. That is so true! My only fear is using my family as an excuse to not do other things. I’ve seen this happen with others, so we try to find things we can do together as a family, like this past week we volunteered with VBS each evening and it was great because even though Raeca was a year too young for it they let her come anyway since Jared and I were both helping out. I’ve found it harder to find activities for a younger family to volunteer but definitely enjoy them more than leaving Raeca behind.

  6. Oh goodness, I still struggle with over committing myself and learning to say “no”. It always feel so good to not commit to anything for one weekend (at least) and just enjoy time with my husband. I cherish it and I need to do it more often.

    Oh, and I love Jenna! She’s such a great blogger. 🙂

    1. I hear you, I just love those rare weeks where we have nothing up in the evenings. They are actually more frequent now as we try to focus more on our family and community (as opposed to always being busy with church activities).

  7. I’m an over-committer for sure – it was especially bad my sophomore year of college, but I’m getting better at saying no. The other day I had an opportunity to do some freelance work, and just the thought of meeting with the guy to hear about it was stressing me out. The moment I realized it I called and told him I couldn’t do it. It’s taken a while, but I’m finally learning what a healthy level of commitment looks like AND that God values rest and peace and did not create us to be busy bodies. Great post!

    1. That is so hard to do, but good for you for knowing what your limits are and sticking to it! I hate those times where I take something on (knowing I shouldn’t) and I just dread the whole time I’m doing it.

  8. Chantel, I just have appreciated this series so much! It has really struck home. They are challenging and convicting. I know I need to drop some responsibilities.

  9. I think this is such a great topic to be reminded of. It wasn’t until college that I actually had to say NO to a good thing (prison ministry) because of my busy schedule and other commitments. Before that, it was simply say no to bad, say yes to good. I think now that I am a wife and mother, it has become even more important to really weigh the options and choices. Thank you for sharing! Stopping over from Oak + Oats link-up 🙂

    1. I know, it can be so hard when you are saying no to something that is really a good thing, but I think a person really needs to know their limits. You don’t want to over commit and only be able to give 50% in everything you do.

  10. Chantel-you make some great points about choosing the best things over good (or even great) things. It sounds to me like you have your priorities spot on. Thanks for the motivation to simplify commitments!

  11. I remember reading Bob Goff’s book Love Does and how he recommends quitting something often or simply saying no. Haley Morgan made a great point that sometimes us saying no to something makes someone else able to say yes for the first time. It’s about trusting that God is working even when we are not. And that he uses our “no” sometimes for someone else’s good.

    1. That’s spot on! In a church that I used to go to it was the same 5-10 couples that did EVERYTHING in the church. And I understand that people asked them because they would never say no but I wish they would have looked around and realized that there were a lot of other people around that would do a really good job too but because they weren’t as vocal or as out going they never got asked.

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