II Chronicles 7:14

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lightening the Load...

Wow, today marks a big step for me. As of today, I am no longer anyone's homeroom mom nor am I a volunteer in our church's children's department. Eeeek!
It's ironic that I can feel FREE and yet like someone just sucked the breath out of me at the same time.
These are both big committments that I've had for about 6 years now. Ever since Brooklyn was 3 and Grant was born, I have been homeroom mom for her (and then his) class AND I've been working in our church's childrens department at LEAST twice, sometimes more, a month. While I've thorougly enjoyed both of these "roles", I realize that over the years, the joy has been being overshadowed by a sense of burden and responsibility. My dear friend Lisa took time out of her life to come have lunch with me recently and even though I didn't realize it that day, her words planted a seed in my heart and took root and she helped me realize that my motivation for doing SO MANY things for SO MANY people wasn't what it used to be. She kept asking me "but WHY are you doing it?" and all I could say was "because I WANT to. I LOVE to help people!" and that is true...and that is WHY I started being homeroom mom and volunteering at church. But since that first day, LOTS of things in my life have changed. I've taken on several other part-time jobs, had a baby (6 yrs ago), etc. and now my reason for STILL doing these things is something more like "because the kids want me to be their homeroom mom" and volunteering at church "because they need the help desperatly." Valid reasons, yes...but worth sacrificing my sanity and peace and joy for? no.
I have so many wonderful friends in my life who have all played an enormous part in helping me come to these realizations (and actually act upon them) so I have to give a big thanks to LISA, RENE, TERESA and even a new friend ROCHELLE who have all spent time just this past week helping me through these "issues" and have offered up prayers, love, wisdom and encouragement as I "lighten my load."
It's interesting that when I was talking to Matt about this, he said "I don't know..it's kinda like you're taking the easy way out." I said "the EASY way??? how can you even THINK that? This is SOOO NOT easy for me"
He said, "well, isn't it easier to not be committed to so many things and not have to be responsible?"
I could see his point. For him, and lots of people, that is "the easy way"....but for many of you (especially the 4 women I just listed) you know that the EASY way for us is to say "yes, yes, yes" to everything. It is the HARD WAY to say "no" as well as to say "I quit"...but it is the right thing to do...for me...right now and hard as it may be, I'm all in.
I've reached the point where I'm not just thinking it and saying it...but actually DOING something to change the chaos in my life. Discipline for the kids is going AMAZING. My stress level is DROPPING. Our enjoyment, happiness and overall peace is INCREASING.
I could go on and on...but the bottom line is: this momma is putting the pieces of my life's puzzle into perspective and proper priority placement! (wooh000--look at that alliteration! :o)
I love you all and I thank you for reading my crazy blog with all my crazy rants and vent sessions as well as the ones about the good times. I can just tell you now...you can look for lots more of the "good times" up ahead! (sprinkled with vents too I'm sure..it is Summer Break! :o)


Kate said...

Jen, I totally know what you're feeling when you say that taking away those responsibilities is NOT easy. It is so easy to sign ourselves up for yet another commitment. Why? Because I really do think it's ingrained in everyone woman's mind that they must be superwoman and doing it all is the only key to success. WRONG! It's only the key to heartache, I think. I think many of us (and this may relate to you or not) do so much because it's easier for us to face these many tasks than to deal with what really needs out attention: our husbands, our kids, ourSELVES! People may or may not remember what we did or said, but they will always remember how we made them feel. And now that I have this baby I'm constantly questioning myself when I go to do something "Is this REALLY important now? Is this really going to benefit him and our family?" 9 times out of 10, it's a no and it can wait. Allowing myself the time to BE - just BE - with him, with my husband does so much for my sense of ME. I don't need to be superwoman to the rest of the world. I just need to be Benjamin's mama, Tony's wife, and I need to be true to myself.

I know that's so much easier said than done, but once we're able to get out that magic word "no" it really is empowering.

You are by no means taking the easy road! In my opinion, if it were the easy road, it wouldn't be such a tough decision to make. I'm glad you've made this choice. Is it weird to say that seeing you less stressed and spread out so thin makes me happy?? Well, it DOES! It is such a challenge in our societies and cultures to stop and enjoy the simple things, to live deliberately, and to just BE - no matter what others expect of us.

I'm really proud of you Jen - not that that matters or should affect any decision you make - your decisions need to be right for YOU. But really, it blesses me to see you realizing what needs to go, how your motivations have changed, and accepting that yes, it's ok to part ways with them.

Love you girl!

Kuckie said...

Oh absolutely! I lightened my load last year. I was volunteering for everything everyone needed help with and while that was rewarding and I got a lot of satisfaction from helping people out, my family and my sanity suffered. Things were chaotic around here and I was rushing through everything, just trying to keep up. Finally, I realized it just wasn't worth it. Now I volunteer at Kendall's school once per week, as well as helping out with various field trips and appreciation dinners. I make goodies for Noah's preschool bake sale and support them in every fundraiser they have. I participate in a carpool to and from school as well as to and from taekwondo. And as often as I can, I will help with random things such as Relay for Life or March of Dimes walks. But other than that, around here, family comes first. And if it's going to create an undue sense of chaos or make me feel overwhelmed to take it on, I just politely decline. My family needs me, just as yours needs you. And when you're doing everything for everyone else, you're just not there. And the funny thing is, it's SOOOO not the easy way out! The easy way out is to say yes to everything because it will be fun to be the homeroom mom and fun to plan the parties you'll be in the middle of everything all the time. Plus, you're making everyone happy and they're all so grateful to you for your help and dedication...it feels good. THAT'S the easy way out. The hard way is to take stock of what you already have going on and say, "I'm sorry I can't help you this time. It might be someone else's turn to help out." For us people-pleasers out there, THIS is the most difficult thing in the world.

I'm so proud of you for figuring it out and making it happen! Your kids will be better for it, and so will your family dynamic! Won't be long before Matt is thinking you're a genius!!! :)

Rene' said...

I'm looking forward to seeing your stress decrease :) glad you were able to do this. Its a big step and I bet its just the first. :)

Rochelle said...

Jen, I know this must feel so bittersweet. Putting your priorities in order can be tough when it requires that you let go of things that have been so fulfilling to you and so helpful to others.

A while back, a door opened for us which led to us making a tough choice about leaving one ministry to do another. Someone very wise sat us down and told us that we just needed to pray about whether the door that had opened to us was simply an OPPORTUNITY -OR- an ASSIGNMENT FROM GOD. That question has helped me so much when making decisions about what to take on - is it an opportunity or do I sense that it's an assignment from God? We are nurturers and with that comes the desire to want to fulfill the needs we see around us - on many occasions, that desire has led me to take on an assignment that was meant for someone else (talk about stealing someone else's blessing!).

I am praying for you! I'm praying that peace with your decision will overcome any feelings of emptiness that you might experience and that you'll quickly see the fruit of your choice as that peace oozes into every area of your life.
BIG THANKS to you for this blog that I LOVE TO READ!! You are more of an encouragement to me than you can know!

Rock Chef said...

Yay, you did it!