By Anjanette Barr, Contributing Writer
I recently took on a full time job. 40 hours a week on top of homeschooling, writing, working craft shows, and trying to keep my family alive and well fed.
That was dumb, right?
The particular position that I accepted was one that I could do from home. And it was in an area that I felt particularly gifted. I didn’t need the money necessarily, but I thought that work that comes easily to me would make for a pretty light burden. And it would be fulfilling because it would meet a real need.
I did pray about it. And I had lots of time to prepare. Lots of time to get my husband’s advice and run the idea past friends. Aside from the fact that this job would make my already-full schedule fuller, I felt like I had every good reason to accept it.
It only lasted 3 months before I quit.
Turns out, if you want to teach your child to read, run a blog, participate in craft fairs, and have a full time job besides, you have to have more than the allotted 16 hours of awake time each day. And if you try to make up for that by cutting into your 8 hours of sleep too often, well, you get pneumonia.
I took on way too much and got completely overwhelmed.
So what went wrong? Why wasn’t I able to handle it? Did I miss some warning sign from God? Were my motives less pure than I imagined?
Sometimes You Just Can’t Eat an Elephant
I know, it seems pretty obvious that I bit off more than I could chew. Homeschooling in and of itself is a pretty serious time commitment. As is being a wife and mother in general, for that matter.
But I’ve been growing in my homemaking skills. My time management is improving. And this really was supposed to be an easy job!
It was just too much for me. No amount of steady-paced nibbling would help me finish off this particular elephant.
The worst part of it all was admitting to my (non-Christian) employer that I had over-estimated my ability. Talk about humbling. I felt like I was flaking out big time, and if I hadn’t been choosing between my job and my sanity, I probably would have tried to hold out a lot longer despite the repercussions (like my kids seeing more of Veggie Tales and Daniel Tiger than me some days)!
But can I tell you that this has been one of the worst-best-worst-best experiences of my adult life?
Lessons From The Humble Spot I Now Sit
You may not be able to relate these specific circumstances. But maybe you feel like your Sundays are way out of control with choir practice and nursery and Sunday School and an evening potluck all while it’s the only day of the week you see your husband.
Or maybe you agreed to let your sister stay with you and she brought along 4 cats, but your toddler is having weird sinus-y issues all the time and your husband is out of work and in the midst of it all you thought a cake decorating class would be fun. 😉
We love to multi-task. We love to feel needed. And we are all desperate for balance in our lives. I think every one of us gets to places where we realize there are just too many things. Just too many. And sometimes we’re forced to quit some of them.
Here’s what God has taught me about this place where we find ourselves. I hope it is encouraging.
1. God knew we were going to get in over our heads.
Long before we ever even considered taking these things on, He knew we couldn’t handle them. He also knew whether we’d be taking them on in hopes of gaining recognition, or to help another person, or (as is likely) a mixture of both. We might be surprised by our struggles, but He’s not. (Isaiah 46:9)
2. He cares.
The fact that He knew we were going to fail or find ourselves in need doesn’t betray a sadistic desire to see us hurt. Our Heavenly Father cares about how torn we feel. It matters to Him that we are physically and mentally well. (Matthew 6:25-34)
3. He has a plan.
A grand one, at that! In addition to knowing what you were getting into, He knew before the dawn of time how He was going to get you out of your situation. Or how He is going to hold you up under it. We can trust that because He cares, He’s not going to let us flounder forever. (Romans 8:18-30)
4. He goes before us.
The future is uncertain in everything but this: God is there. As these days unfold we’ll see what He is doing and why. And we’ll discover that it was better than we could hope for. He’s orchestrating our journeys and whether they include a lot or a little more of these earthly trials, they will end! We’ll reach our final destination, and He’ll be there! (Romans 8:31-37)
Would you believe that looking back on these three months I see just as many blessings as trials?
I was reminded that my husband extends so much understanding and grace my way! He never chastised me for falling apart. He totally got it. I didn’t have to worry about him making me feel worse than I already did and that has intensified my love for him.
I learned that my children really do very well even with half my attention – what blessings they are!
Against all odds, I’ve established a solid friendship with my employer that will weather this storm. The conversations we’ve had and the bond we’ve created has been worth it.
And the best part? I was forced to cry out to God. I was pretty much a mess most days, but I felt held-together by His reassuring presence. And the very day that I cried out to Him, “I just can’t do it at all. Not even one more day! I’m losing it!” I was informed that another person had been found for my position and that I only had to finish out the next few days! Just like that! And I’d been prepared to wait months and months while they found a replacement! Talk about a God that hears!
I thought I knew what I could handle and I was desperately wrong. Truth is. I can’t handle anything. But God can eat an elephant whole. 😉