That is the amount of time it took me to finally realize what so many people had been telling me I do.
The first time I heard that phrase was from my mom when I was back in high school. One night, in the kitchen, she uttered the 2 words in the title of this blog to describe all the things I was doing in my life. She said I was burning the candle at both ends & one day it would be snuffed out if I didn’t change what I was doing.
I didn’t believe her then.
The next time I heard it was by one of my close mentors at church when I was in college. I was exhausted then, too…but still pushing on. She could see where I was headed & she told me, too…”Emily, you do too much.”
Again, I didn’t believe her.
Throughout these 11 years or so, I have been doing just that, too much. In high school my schedule was filled with with school, after-school sports, homework from all my Honors & AP classes, & helping lead & volunteer with FCA. In college, it was studying my butt off to get A’s & B’s, leading FCA, working part time jobs, volunteering with Campus Ministry, helping my soon-to-be-husband start his business, then prepping to get married while still in school, then actually getting & being married while still in school. Ha! My junior & senior years in college were the worst. I would drink 5-6 huge mugs of coffee a day & still be able to nap afterward…& when David & I got married, between my school hours, a part time job, & helping him, we were dirt poor & I ended up losing 20 poungs in 6 months. All of this & yet not actually making time for enjoyment, life, or friends, because I was afraid of achieving anything less than my “idea” of perfection.
Yet again, though…I refused to admit the physical toll everything was taking on my body & I continued on.
Since college it’s been a matter of filling my time with things related to work, starting small businesses, doing my blog, gardening, trying to run a household, helping my husband at his business. There have been some of those things that were just neccessity & couldn’t be avoided…but all the rest of it…well, they were just fillers.
With all of that, though, I never felt satisfied. If I had down time I felt like something was wrong or that I was wasting my time, so I would find something to fill it. I was seeking my value & self-worth from my accomplishments. The success or failure of my businesses or blog became the determinants of my value rather in the One that truly matters.
All of this came to a head last year. In the midst of doing everything I was doing I began to suffer some serious health problems. I felt exhausted all the time, no matter what I did. I developed serious sinus issues that no doctor could figure out. From there I developed vertigo that lasted about a week & still feel the effects of it every now & again. And one thing that I told very few people about- I began to lose sensation in the left side of my face…it began to feel numb, like a spider web spreading from the back left side of my skull, over my ear, & webbing out across my face. Through all this, I just kept ignoring the truth & kept pushing on…why? I don’t really know, now that I look back.
God began to change things in January of this year. I began to feel this tug on my heart from Him. I knew He wanted my full attention but I wasn’t ready to give it over. One day, though, I was listening to a Voice of the Martyrs Radio podcast. The guest was talking about how churches around the world actually pray for Christians in America, because many people here are just like me…cramming their schedules full, running themselves ragged for the purpose of feeling valuable, when in reality we feel worthless because we are chasing the temporary, the fleeting rather than chasing the One the will give us that value & satisfaction simply & up front. What she said began to hit home then…but I still wasn’t quite there. As God continued to pull me toward Him, I remember hearing another podcast about being able to hear & know the voice of God. I DESPERATELY wanted that. Again…a VOM podcast was talking about this & talking about how learning to recognize God’s voice in our lives takes time & dedication. It takes being able to sit & quietly listen for Him. My immediate thought was “but I just don’t have time for that.”
That’s when God’s arrow hit its mark.
All of a sudden, I realized my jam-packed schedule, ignoring God’s voice, in & of itself was a sin against God because I was choosing to ignore His calling & His voice in my life. By this time it was February & within 1 week I decided to give up Mary & Martha, go radio-silence on my blog, & really just cut my schedule back to the absolute neccessities: keeping up my household, helping David at the ballroom, & my full-time job.
God has done SO much in these past few months. A majority of my health problems have completely disappeared & I haven’t felt this relaxed in over a decade. It’s sad to realize that…that I’ve spent more than a decade all twisted up in anxiety & stress…that I’ve spent more than 10 years chasing stress-inducing things rather than the things God wanted for me. I have spent more than 10 years chasing time-wasters instead of pouring into people. I have spent more than 10 years isolating myself from others so I could strive after my own goals & achievements that I have been a terrible friend to the people that have meant the most to me…some of them I’ve even lost. But in the past few months I feel like God has hit the restart button on my life. I am so excited for what He is doing in me. His clearing out my life has made room for some serious life changes that I wouldn’t have done otherwise- a change of job locations, moving, helping out in small, needed areas at church, & ultiamtely making more time for friends & people in need.
If you’re like me- take time today to look at your life. Zoom out & look at how crazy your life & schedule is. What things can you take out (there are plenty, I’m sure…you just have to be willing). Start threshing that schedule, getting rid of the waste in your time-life, because that will be the only way you’re able to stop & listen for God’s voice. How can we expect to learn to recognize His still, small [but AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL] voice in our lives if we fill our time with constant, wearing static? How can we expect to be able to make the moves & choices He wants us to make if we make no room for Him, if we allow no extra time in life to do those things? How can we be used by Him to maybe help lead others to Christ if we’re too busy using ourselves & our time for temporary, fleeting pleasure? How can we be used by God if our crazy schedules are ruining our health? We can’t be a witness for Him if we’re dead by our own doing, can we? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should quit everything & sit at home being lazy bums for the rest of forever. But if we don’t open our schedules to give time to rest & listen for God…if we make no time to get up & go whenever & wherever He calls us…then we can’t ever really be used by Him. The “Christian” world always talks about how Christianity is a relationship not a religion. Well…if you had a friend that used you like you use God…would you still like your friend? They always call you when they need help…but they never make time to just talk & hangout out with you. Really…that’s not a relationship, & that’s how many of us, especially in America, treat God.
So that’s where I’ve been these past few months. I will not apologize for the radio silence. I will not feel bad for backing out of things. I will not feel bad for saying no if I need to, & neither should you.
The fleeting things in life will not bring me satisfaction, only God will, so I will make room for Him, I will make room in my life to be able to follow His instruction when He calls, & I will not feel bad about it. I am tired & I am tired of doing too much…so I won’t anymore & I’m okay with that.
“Take away the dross from the silver, & the smith has material for a vessel.” -Proverbs 25:4
(You can’t expect to be used by God if you don’t make yourself available to Him…& you can’t expect to be useful to God if you’re drowning in a wasteful life).
Be blessed, friends.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live inthe flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me & gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20