By Elisabeth Warner
Every year, we make New Year’s resolutions to do more. To work out more. To clean the house more often. To travel all over the world. To read every book on our bookshelves. But what if this year we focused on doing less?
This past year, I hit a wall. I was working three jobs while serving in three different ministries, in addition to maintaining my new marriage and trying to make time to see my friends and family. We also moved to a new apartment further away from our jobs, church, and friends, which required us to spend a lot more time driving.
From the time my eyes opened in the morning to the time they closed at night, I was working, moving, and doing more than I could handle. I knew I needed to rest, but I didn’t know how. Every time I took a break, I felt guilty for not being active. Eventually, I engaged in a battle between guilt over doing too much and guilt over doing too little. What exactly did God have planned for me?
At the beginning of the summer, I learned a beautiful word that has set me free and has helped me establish boundaries in my life without guilt: no. The word is difficult to say but easy to pronounce. I took time out of my schedule to reflect on what God was calling me to do. I evaluated where I was seeing fruit, and what was giving me life and what was destroying me. Then, as a way to say yes to His call, I said no to everything He did not call me to do.
As a result, I had to make some difficult decisions. I stepped down from a ministry I loved, but which was not producing fruit. I left my full-time job to pursue a career I could see myself doing long term. I turned down activities in order to make time for myself, which allowed me to get the rest I needed to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. Finally, I said no to myself, and to the habits that had begun to clutter my schedule and heart.
Over the summer, the overwhelming dread of doing too much was slowly replaced by the guilt and depression of having nothing to do. During that time, I filled myself with God’s Word, listening to sermons on YouTube and reading the Bible. I spent more time with my husband and hosted our friends and family at our apartment on multiple occasions. Now, after committing my way to the Lord, I truly feel like my life is balanced. I no longer feel overwhelmed, and I somehow have time to do what I love and be with the people I love.
This new year, my resolution is to do less, to continue to look at my schedule and see where I can make more room for the things God has for me. Even when I feel guilty, even when I’m afraid of doing too little, I can remember that God doesn’t call me to do it all. Psalm 37 reminds me to enjoy the life God has given me, trusting that He will provide the desires of my heart. This year, I choose to commit my way to Him and trust Him (v. 5). I choose to say no more often, so I can say yes to what fuels my soul and produces fruit in my heart, so that ultimately, I can give glory to God.
Elisabeth Warner is a lover of words, language, and grammar. As an overcomer of Generalized Anxiety Disorder through God’s grace, she desires to speak (and write!) life into those who have no hope by showing them the hope of Christ. She is a native Long Islander and has been married to her husband Lenny for two years. For encouragement in marriage, dealing with anxiety, and living out your faith, visit www.elisabethwarner.com.