Monday, November 14, 2016

Taking Down Chairs

This week, I re-read Present Over Perfect. Truth be told, I could read this book every day and take something different from it. For this time through the pages, there's a piece that particularly stuck with me. It was the recounting of a discussion with two pastors about the growth of a church:

"The seasoned pastor pushed him gently: 'You'e built this, and it's okay to say that. You've intentionally and strategically built a very large church. It's okay to say that.'

The young pastor kept protesting, preferring the narrative of wild and unexplained growth. 'We had nothing to do with it,' he insisted.

'Well, not nothing,' said the older pastor. 'You kept putting up more chairs.'"

Over the last few years, I've put up a lot of chairs. In fact, at this point, I'm beyond chairs, and I'm living in a world of standing room only. 

I have said yes to many, many things - more things than I care to admit. I've gotten in a bad habit of thinking of doing all the things brings all the feelings and fulfillment. And well, spoiler alert, it doesn't. I've defaulted to yes so many times that my commitment doesn't mean much anymore, and that's not a great place to be.

I have become fearful of what a no means. What if I'm not there? What if I can't do something? Surely, I can do this one more thing? And so I have. I have over and over and over again.

A few weeks ago, something I was planning on doing on a Saturday fell through. This meant I was going to get to spend the full day with my husband. And his reaction was the moment I really realized I had too many chairs. I see my husband every day. Working from home, I spend the bulk of my time in our house. I'm doing all I can for us and our home, right? Nope. His incredible excitement to get this time with me showed I was giving too much to too much. In giving time and energy to all, the quantity is great, but the quality is pretty terrible.

The reality of this wasn't one I'm particularly proud of, and it's one I'm still working through. So, right now, I'm committing publicly (and privately) to taking down some chairs. I'm committing to re-discovering, re-connecting and re-focusing on what matters to me. I'm committing to having open hours on my calendar and days with no plans. I'm committing to using more energy to spend love and life on the people and passions that are closest and most important to me.

"When you say, 'This is what I can do; this is what I can't,' you'll find so much freedom in that. You'll be free to love your work, because you're not using it as a sneaky way to be loved or approved of. You'll be free to love the things you give to people, because you're giving them freely, untangled from resentments and anger." 
- Shauna Niequist, Present Over Perfect