Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Keeping It OhSoVery Real

===I'll originally wrote this post several weeks ago, but stumbled across it tonight in my drafts, and figured I ought to post it if for no other reason that to serve as a reminder for me to reflect back on in the months and years ahead.===

Y'all. It's 4:32 PM as I'm starting to write this post, and I just woke up from a 3-hour Sunday afternoon nap. And it was heavenly! I wish I could say this has been the norm for me, now in my 3rd trimester with baby #4, but sadly, I haven't had quite as many nap opportunities as I'd like. Such a shame, no?

Today I felt compelled to share a little glimpse of what these past few days have taught me. In our Sunday School class this morning, we were asked, "Where did you see God show up this week?" It didn't take long for me to think of several of the ways He showed up in my life this week. My wheels started turning and I found myself compelled to write this post. So buckle up, friends! It's about to get real over here!

God has been working in my heart and life in a very specific way over the past year. And let me tell you -- He's had His work cut out for Him to get through to me in this specific area. Let's just say I have had a tendency to commit, commit, and overcommit myself -- in many areas -- and sometimes to my own detriment. Okay, in ALL areas. I love to serve. God created me with a servant's heart. And I feel He has gifted me in more ways than I am deserving of, which makes it even more apparent to me that I should live to serve Him and others by using those gifts. And for thirty-COUGH-something years -- definitely from my late teens until now -- I have done just that. Maybe with a few blips here and there where I might have turned down a service opportunity or two, but for the most part, living to serve. And loving every minute of it.

Just think about it. As a teenager, I had free time. As a young, single, working professional, I had free time. In spades. Even as a newly-married woman, and then a first-time mom, I still had time. And I didn't have to really even think about anything -- serving others was just part of who I was, who I'd been for so many years, and I never questioned it. I just did it. And I truly believe God blessed me and others through my efforts, and sometimes, even through my sacrifices.

Fast-forward a bit to last year. It's now 2016. I have been married over 10 years. I have 3 children. I am a full-time homeschool teacher, bearing (with God's help, and my husband's gracious support) the burden of my childrens' educations, a responsibility that I do NOT take lightly. My life continued to evolve and the demands for my time were beginning to spiral out of control.

So tell me: Which do you think would God honor more?
Focusing my time and energy on my marriage, or spending time serving in one (okay, really, several) ministries?
Preparing homeschool lessons for my children, or spending hours as a volunteer photographer for my childrens' various activities?
Deepening my walk with the Lord through an immersive 3-day prayer and Bible study experience, or baking for 3 days straight to help raise money for a non-profit organization?
Let me be clear: there are no WRONG ways to serve God. At least, that's what I believe. But sometimes, in all of the serving, in all of the giving, in all of the thinking you're doing the right things, God can show up in unexpected ways.

Let me give you just one (of MANY) examples: I never in a million years would have expected God to call me out of the Worship ministry at my church. I had served as a relatively integral part of our worship team--on piano/keys--for over 20 years. TWENTY YEARS, people. And I loved every. single. minute. of it. I had a purpose, and it was a good one! Helping to lead others to the Lord through worship was something I felt God just had to bless, right?

But at what cost?

This is where I get ohsovery real with y'all. It's something I haven't really shared with anyone, I haven't brought attention to it through facebook posts, and I definitely haven't blogged about here. But 2015 and 2016 brought the strongest and hardest marital struggles I had ever experienced. I'm not going to get into details here, but let's just say that my marriage was suffering. Like, really suffering. Satan had his grip on us and was throwing everything possible at us to pull us apart. I honestly can't even discuss this beyond what I've said already as I can't bring myself back to that place to talk about it. It's still too raw and too deep. But my point in mentioning it is this: I put my time and effort and energy into serving God through so many activities and commitments and various ways of volunteering within the church that I was no longer investing the time and energy in making my marriage a priority.

But I was still serving God, so He should bless me and my life, right?


I say all of this to say that sometimes, you HAVE to make a choice.

Sometimes, you HAVE to reevaluate your priorities.

Sometimes, you HAVE to say no.

For people like me, that's not an easy concept, and it's surely a difficult one to embrace. I'm reminded of the Old Testament, when Joshua spoke these words:
"But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul." {Joshua 22:5}
Am I loving God and walking in obedience to Him when I say NO to taking on a volunteer commitment for a church ministry?

Am I keeping His commands when I say NO to taking on a large project for our homeschool co-op?

Am I serving Him with all my heart and with all my soul when I say NO to ((fill in the blank))?

Saying no is okay. It doesn't mean I don't love God. It doesn't mean I don't love others. It just means that I love my God, my husband, my family, and myself enough to do the RIGHT things at the RIGHT times. This season of life with three-going-on-four young children who demand so much of my time just isn't the right time for me to say yes to ALL.THE.THINGS. It just isn't. And that's okay!

It's taken me almost 10 years to figure that out.

It really is OKAY.

I love my husband. I love my children. And I want to be the VERY BEST wife and mother I can be. And that takes time. It takes commitment. It takes making my husband and kids a priority.

And I'm perfectly okay with that.

So please know that yes, I love to help. I love to serve. And I love to be God's hands and feet to make a difference in the lives of those He calls me to serve. But please also know that God can (and has and will!) honor my choice to say no sometimes so I can ensure my focus continues to be on Him and His plans for my life and my family.

Please also know that I'm not at all saying that you shouldn't volunteer in your church, find a place to serve with your children's various activities, take a meal to a friend in need, start a Bible study, etc... I just want to remind you that you should evaluate your priorities and try not to take on TOO much.

I know this was a long read and for those that made it this far, thank you! I am hopeful that this post has been an encouragement to one (or more!) who needed to hear it. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it's okay to say no, because taking on too much can come with too great a cost. And I don't believe that is how God has called us to live.

[[steps down from soap box]]

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