One reason we struggle to discover God’s direction for our lives — a reason we seldom talk about — is that we are trying to do too much. We’re so overloaded and over-committed that we’re not able to listen for what God wants next with the faith of a child.
The purpose of this blog is to help you live an authentic life. To do that, I have to be authentic about my journey.
And right now, I am overloaded.
Combine a book launch with a few delays on other key projects and my tendency to be over-committed and you have the perfect example of trying to cram too much into too little time. It’s all really good, Kingdom-advancing stuff. But I confess I’m struggling to make my problems line up for me, a John Maxwell principle I’ve always tried to live by.
I had a vivid dream the other night that served as a not so-subtle reminder of what happens when I try to do it all. In the dream, my eight-year-old son and I were home alone because I had been too busy to hear everyone else leaving for church. Somehow he misunderstood a request from me and brought me a loaded handgun. I was too busy to put the gun away properly — or even to ask him where he got it — so I told him to put it in the dumpster. (We don’t even have a dumpster, but this is only a dream.)
Fast-forward to the afternoon when the rest of the family returned. My daughter asked if I had heard the gun explode. I had not. I was — you guessed it — too busy. I ran around the house to discover the gun had overheated after sitting in the hot sun in the dumpster (which had only three sides for some strange reason). With great relief, I saw the gun had been pointed away from our house and toward the open side of the dumpster so none of my children had been injured.
But as I looked in the direction the gun had been pointing, I saw my neighbor lying in his driveway, waving me over to help.
I know it was all just a dream, but my heart still sank as reality hit: living in an overloaded life not only makes it difficult to listen, it also often leads to someone getting hurt.
The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 that God comforts us in affliction — even self-inflicted affliction — so we can give comfort to others. So I am sharing my present struggles and the light I am finding through this phase of my faith journey in the hope that it can be of help to you.
There’s some risk you will just think I’m weird. You may be right. I am most definitely a work in progress.
What I am discovering is that the mountains I face now are no different from those I encountered when answering God’s call to live A Story Worth Telling. To free ourselves from overload, we must live an authentic life with abundant faith.
What We Must Believe to End the Overload
Setting limits in our lives is an act of faith. If we are to put life-giving boundaries in place to end the overloaded, we must believe certain things to be true — by faith — and then live them out. Here are a few of them:
- We cannot do it all. We are finite creatures. By definition, we have limits. As much as I love to dream and stretch the imagination for what is possible, “If you can dream it, you can do it” can be a dangerous philosophy to live by.
- We are not God. Our first temptation in the Eden was to think we could take over for our Creator. Our tendency to over-commit is often a veiled attempt to take over.
- Some things are more important than others. We all know this, but we don’t all live like we believe it. Saying yes to some things means we must say no to others. Not every possible task should be equally important to you. Yes, you will have to disappoint some people in order to end the overload. No, the world will not end.
- Our ability to get things done does not determine our true worth. Try pushing pause for a few days — or even a few hours — to reacquire your focus and sanity and see if you don’t start feeling guilty about “doing nothing.” We have a cultural sickness that measures our worth by how busy we feel. It’s from the pit of hell and smells like smoke.
- Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Jeff Goldblum’s character in the original Jurassic Park movie had it right. Being possible and being a good idea are not the same thing. Our ability should never be confused with our responsibility.
- Our refusal to do everything doesn’t disqualify us from anything. I struggle with this one a lot. I often feel that if I can’t do it all, I am somehow defective for not figuring out a way to make it happen. Worse, I conclude I’m not good enough to qualify for God’s favor. The good news, as I continually remind myself, is that grace flows downhill.
One book I am finding quite helpful is Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson. I highly recommend it if you’re feeling too overloaded to hear God’s voice.
Question: Where do you feel so overloaded in life that it’s hard for you to hear from God on your life direction? Share your thoughts by clicking here.