Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt. 11:29-30
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel burdened. People ask me to do more than I have time, energy, or finances to handle. Sometimes I want to do things that require more money than I have in hand.
I remember one guy who asked me if I would teach college English classes in his denomination’s program for immigrant pastors. It was a fabulous opportunity. I love to teach. I’ve written professionally for my entire career but since my degree isn’t in English, I’m not able to teach in most classrooms. The only problem was … I already was working more than full time. The job would require creating a curriculum, being available to students, grading papers. And I’m a person who needs her sleep. I told him no.
He looked at me sharply. This was a father of four who pastored a church and ran a program to credential all of the international pastors in the denomination’s district.
“You can do more than you think,” he said.
No, I really can’t, I thought. I stood my ground. I would have loved the opportunity. But I know how much rest I require.
Recently, I had the “opportunity” to provide transportation to a disabled friend, who wanted to visit another friend on her birthday. The only problem was the timing: it fell when my husband and I had other plans. So did all of the alternative times he suggested. I had to suggest he find alternative transportation.
I felt kind of crummy … for about 36 hours. Today, I feel glad that my husband and I were finally be able to step back from an extraordinarily hectic two months and take a few hours for ourselves.
- Just say no! Sometimes too much really is too much.
- Ask yourself: Is this God’s burden or mine? Am I overwhelmed by what God expects, what other people expect, or what I expect of myself? This blog and the upcoming book can help you get more clear on the kinds of things God cares about, but in any given moment, only God can tell you whether a task belongs to you or someone else.
- Listen for the Spirit’s leading. Sometimes “yes” is the right answer. No matter what the “spiritual gifts inventory” shows, all of us are called to some less than delightful tasks that simply represent our responsibilities to God and God’s world, Rabbi Marc Gelman points out. Caregiving, earning a living, and maintaining a home aren’t always fun.
- Consider ways to reduce the overall load you are carrying. Do the children really need to be ferried to three different activities each? Do you really need a job that keeps you away from home 40 percent of the month? Does your family really need as much house as you’re paying for and maintaining? The answers will vary from family to family.