Wednesday, April 11, 2012

on quitting + doing it all.

Last night, I skipped Bible study.

I just couldn't go.

For all kinds of reasons, I guess, but they all boil down to the fact that I simply cannot do it all.

Sometimes, of course, I try, and the proverbial you-know-what hits the fan, and I'm forced to quit.

I think adulthood may at least in part be that moment when we quit of our own accord, before the chaos ensues. It's why my decision to quit grad school was such a big deal. I quit on my own, before the fan-hitting, before the nervous breakdown (okay, maybe there was one), before the puddle of tears at midnight. I knew I couldn't do it all, knew I needed to quit, so I did.

If only I could remember that life-changing moment when I'm in the middle of smaller ones.

This weekend, Jordan and I went to the beach. We attended Good Friday services, dyed and hunted Easter eggs (one's still missing), saw a movie, and went to Easter services and a brunch. I boiled 20 potatoes and made two separate batches of potato salad and two dozen cookies. I put together three Easter baskets for friends' little ones and read the book of Jonah for our small group lesson. And then, Sunday night, I looked around and saw that our house was a disaster zone and the refrigerator was empty.

But Monday night we went and looked at a rental house. We did some brainstorming with our minister on some new ministry opportunities. We didn't eat dinner until we drove through Jimmy John's at 9:00, and we crashed into our pillows at 11:30.

Last night, something had to give. We needed groceries. Eating dark chocolate for breakfast two days in a row isn't exactly good for the body, and I could feel myself becoming stressed and anxious and annoyed.

So I skipped Bible study. I hadn't done the readings, and my friend called to say she was sick and couldn't go, and I took it as a sign. I figured maybe God was giving me permission to quit, just for a night.

This Tuesday, I didn't listen to a lecture on Ephesians. I didn't go through discussion questions or fellowship with friends. Instead, I helped my husband take moldy food to the dumpster. I made us green smoothies for this morning and prepared fruit bags for the rest of the week. I baked bran muffins for our breakfasts, and I prepared menus for the rest of the week.

The house is still a wreck.

There are dirty -- and clean -- clothes almost everywhere the eye can see. (We have outgrown our townhome, and it's becoming noticeable.)

The trashcans need to be emptied, and the ironing hasn't been done in weeks.

The floors are crying out to be vacuumed, and our bedroom looks like a cyclone hit.

But there is food. And somehow, a full, healthy refrigerator seems to make everything just a little bit better.

This morning, we ate bran muffins, drank orange juice, and took green smoothies to work.

Life feels a little bit better when I finally acknowledge defeat, when I lift up my white flag in surrender.

I quit. I give up. I cannot and will not do it all.

If you can, more power to you. Go to Bible study and church three times a week. Grocery shop on time and cook delicious, healthy meals every night. Pack your husband and children lunches and lay in bed and read a book. Never get sick, and never let anybody see you sweat. Never need to break down in tears and never need to say no.

But as for me? I'm going to try this quitting thing a little bit more.

Because sometimes, something's got to give.


Hayley at The Tiny Twig said...

I think Jesus would have words for our busy busy do do go go Church culture these days. I don't think we're necessarily called to DO more or be involved in more. I think it's societal more than biblical. Rest is good, friend. :)

Erin said...

I say good for you. You can't do it all. And I agree with Hayley, that it is societal more than Biblical.
Set priorities and make those things important, and let some of the other things fall away.
Rest IS good.

chet said...

From my churches website: "Love God, love people, awaken a movement...if it doesn’t line up with our mission – then it isn’t for us."

More personally, in grad school I've learned saying "no," is the only way to allow do the things I love and be with people I love when I'm not in the library, classroom or writing papers.

It drives people crazy, no doubt. But it makes life livable. I do school/work, serve at Ethos, and climb whenever I can. And I'm happy.

Cut some stuff out of your life, FOR GOOD! AFTER you proofread my papers of course.

Kristin said...

Yes I agree. Giving grace to ourselves if often what we forget to do! Good for you! I have a feeling you're doing much better this week as a result!

Michele said...

My son reminded me of something he recently learned in discipleship with a friend of ours, "Jesus had 3 years to change the world. He never hurried. He always took time for people. He always got alone with his Father." This really helps an overly busy, overachiever, think I have to do it all mom. God doesn't ask us to do everything, just in everything we do, do it for His glory. Hugs!!

Brittany said...

You're so right. I've been thinking about this so much lately. I'm part of something at my church that is good in theory, but has turned out to be a source of negative, consuming stress. I've been so worried about "quitting," because I don't want to walk away from every hard thing--I know that life isn't always easy. But I've realized that I am allowed to control my own life, listen to myself (and to God), and make the smart, healthy decisions. Thanks so much for writing about this--I really needed to read it.

Brittany said...

Thanks Annie! Your posts always have a way of hitting my heart where and when I need it most!

Amanda said...

Thinking about you so much right now! It's hard to come to the realization that we can't do it all and it's hard to give everything over to God even though that's what he tells us to do. Thank you for writing about your struggles -- it encourages me to come to grips with my own.