Writer’s guilt came rushing in when I realized I hadn’t written a blog in a week. You know that is uncommon for me. I have blogs bubbling over inside me, things to write, songs to sing, and lessons to share. It’s like an overflowing cup in the sink, with the water still on, spilling over. The water has been on this week, trust me. I just hadn’t been able to spill.
I bought into the lie that I was too busy, when really I let myself become a victim of my schedule. I keeled over and played dead as it rolled over me, slowly, with my full permission, and I proceeded to make dramatic death noises and cry to my best friend that I was done. Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and throw a cup of cold water on my face. And so here it is, too late for me but maybe right on time for you: a cup of ice cold water for your face, if you need it.
IT IS YOUR CHOICE TO BE BUSY. Your full choice. You can craft and create the life you want. You can quit your job and get a new one. You can switch careers. You can go back to school. You can switch majors. You can get up earlier and go to bed earlier. You can shut off Facebook, Netflix, and whatever else is your screen drug. You can take inventory of your time and see that you actually have a lot of free hours, even if you have many commitments. And the commitments you have are still your choice. These are things you’ve invited into your life and committed yourself to. When you honor those commitments, don’t act like they just happened to you. You chose them. You had power. You still have power.
You can move to a new place, to a new setup where your bills are different. You can dramatically decrease or increase your overhead costs by changing your way of spending money. You can. I promise. You’re not stuck.
I thought I was stuck. It’s a hilarious thought now. I’ve done the whole bit. I’ve traveled the world with a backpack, and held down a fancy job. I’ve had zero bills and all the bills. I seriously get what Paul was talking about when he said “I’ve learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance…” in Phil 4:12. I feel like I’ve had pretty much every kind of job, from retail, to server, to RA, to housing rep, to research assistant, to lab assistant, to missionary, to trip leader, to tour guide, to social media manager, to elderly care, and babysitter, and scientist. You name it, really. And the funny thing is that the pay was vastly different… but I was the same. I had the same set of skills at each thing, and I learned as I went. I do have a degree to be a scientist, but even that took 4 years. FOUR. Just 4, out of how many I will live. Not that big of a time investment, people. It flew by.
And if we think about how long we will spend dreading our day-to-day lives, four years is a drop in the bucket, is it not?
Like I said, it’s your choice.
I figured out that if I subtract my full-time job, ministry school, church, commutes, time to get ready each day, and sleep time, I end up with FIFTY NINE hours of awake free time. I cannot say that I have no choice, or that I’m too busy. In these 59 hours, I write, socialize, spend time with my loved ones, cook, clean, run errands, mentor, get mentored, and study. I fill that time the way I choose to, according to my goals, calling, dreams, and purpose. And Jesus fully infiltrates my life 24/7/365. I don’t have to box Him into a schedule. He comes over at work. He shows up on the commute. He tells me I’m pretty while I’m getting ready. And while I sleep, He keeps me.
Wanna figure out how much free time you have? Add your committed hours (work, school, small group commitments, church, etc), commute hours, getting ready hours, and your sleep time. Subtract that number from 168 and you’ve got it. That’s how many hours a week that are open to fill. Leave a comment with what you got and if that surprised you!
I’m learning to say NO. I’m learning to let the phone ring. I’m learning. I’m growing. I am living a full life, but I refuse to let my schedule become a personified monster who comes to steal, kill, and destroy me. Nah. I’m choosing my commitments, and I’m thankful for every opportunity that I’ve said YES to. My job is great. It’s my big step toward becoming debt-free by 30. I love using my brain. I love helping to save lives, and dancing to the best ballads while I’m on hold on the phone to call a critical result (best hold music on the planet, folks). Traffic SUCKS but that’s a whole other blog. Atlanta traffic gets its own blog. It’s taught me more than any other driving experience. I love ministry school, and it’s a worthy investment. Mentoring, being mentored, keeping up with my friends and family, and getting to know the sweet man I’m dating and his family… yes.
There is control here. And control is another blog that’s coming your way. The Lord is in control, fully Sovereign. And I am His daughter, and powerful, and in control of my choices. I am no victim of my schedule. I am no pitiful, tired one. I know how to sleep, I know how to nourish my body, and I know how to have fun, because I’m an adult. That’s what adults do: manage themselves well. I’m done complaining about things I’m not willing to change. I’m done complaining about things I’m actually thankful for. That makes no sense, yet I’ve seen people and myself doing this. Busy is oftentimes a word that people in America use for their irresponsible time management skills, and I’m done with it. I have full days, but all my time is free time. I am free to fill it with whatever and whomever I choose. At the end of the day, I have no excuse to forsake my dreams or forgo myself.
With that said, I hope you feel the responsibility and the gripping reality that you are in control of your time, all of it. You can make big steps to change it. You are not stuck. You are not ruined. You are not a heartless tin can, or a brainless scarecrow, or a fearful lion. You may not be able to click your heels and teleport to the lifestyle you want, but you can take steps. And the road may be harsh and not golden at all… but it’s worth it.
You can ask the Lord what the first step is in making the change you need to live a life of fullness, not just one that is passively busy. I know that’s what I’ve been doing the last few days: recommitting and remembering why I’ve chosen to do what I’m doing. I’ve fallen in love all over again with where He has me. My ‘have to’ is back to ‘choose to’ and I am rising again with purposeful joy. I pray that over you, friend: a purposeful joy to rise.