June 30, 2010
I cannot begin to count how many times I’ve heard “Don’t spread yourself too thin” - this weekend was no exception. My best friend got married; there were a great deal of problems at her wedding reception that had to be dealt: my husband and I took on the challenges.
Even in my 2nd trimester, I took on the task of making my best friend’s wedding as perfect as possible. After the busy weekend, I was telling this story to a friend and she said “Janel, you spread yourself way too thin.” So I started to question: Am I putting myself in harms way by doing something for others? Am I sacrificing something about my life in order to make someone else happy? Was I losing something so that someone else could gain something? That night I read a quote from St. Augustine: “Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.
We spend our whole lives trying to figure out how much God has given us, how much we need, how much we can give and we test those limits. I know I do. It’s tough to say no to someone in need. But there are situations in life when we need to evaluate the pros and cons of our giving. I think we forget to prioritize. But it’s ok to put your needs first; it’s ok to say no.
I have been asked to teach Sunday school again next year. I love teaching it, I love my students and I love learning from my students. When one of my students said “Mrs. Peyton, I’m so exited that you’ll be my teacher next year”, this time my response had to be “Oh no, I’m so sorry, I’m not teaching next year because I have to take care of my new baby.” It broke my heart to see the disappointment in her eyes. It was crushing. But I knew I was making the right decision for my family. Was it easy? Not at all. I still get a sinking feeling in my heart when I think about it. But I have to prioritize my giving: we are finite and so are our gifts. The best decisions for us are rarely the easiest.
St. Augustine didn’t specify who the remainder needs to go to. He just says “others.” So who are the others in your life that really matter? I’m guilty of wanting to say yes to everyone – to over commit; it’s a lesson I’m still learning. I forget to prioritize and there can be harsh consequences for that.
Should I have been running around 5 months pregnant re-organizing and fixing problems at a wedding last weekend? In retrospect, probably not. I could have asked for help. Which is probably why I still hear “Don’t spread yourself too thin.” Hopefully with time, work and a lot of prayer, I can gain the strength to say no at important times in my life. I hope you can too.