I am a chronic “do-er.” I am a classic type A extrovert. I want to be involved in everything, and in general, I want to be in charge of it. I want to organize and plan and strategize and do it all perfectly. I want to be around people constantly, and if I could be involved in EVERYTHING, I probably would be.
At least, the old Ariel was like that.
Back in high school, I joined it all. From color guard to student council to key club to the school play — I really honestly enjoyed doing it all. When I got to university, this habit continued. I led devotionals for my floor and worked part time, attended all the different events and activities, and still managed to pull off a trophy for being the outstanding graduate in my major. During those four years, though, I found myself overwhelmed by all I had to do, and many times I was forced to pull all-nighters. I rationalized —I was 20 and everyone pulled all nighters, so I didn’t see that as a bad thing.
I moved to Portugal at 23, and it all began again. I was teaching at an international school and began volunteering with Young Life. I filled my time with friends and women’s groups and serving in different ways at church. And then I met the boy, and my time filled up even more.
Let’s flash forward ten years. 33 year old Ariel has three kids, 3 and under. She’s working full time, barely sleeping and still trying to be involved in everything. She meets with her mentors weekly; she is part of a Bible study; she helps lead a small group; she leads the Toddler ministry at church; she serves on the worship team; she tries to still be present for her friends, her kids, her husband.
And she is FAILING.
I was struggling to do anything well at all. I tried to do it all, and I just couldn’t. So, when I was listening to a Priscilla Shirer podcast one day and she said this:
“I will seek to devote the best of myself, my time and my talents to the primary roles that the Lord has entrusted to me in this season of my life.”Priscilla Shirer, Resolutions for Women “My Best” Podcast
I was like — whoa, now. Wait. Hold up. That is what I should be doing. The PRIMARY roles I have been placed in — for THIS season of my life. I started to pray and think about what that meant.
I was a wife. I was a mom. And honestly, those roles are the most important callings I have right now. If I was too exhausted by all other activities I was involved in — even if they were good things — to be a good wife and mom, then I was doing it all wrong.
You see, we live in a culture where being busy is valued. To be involved in everything, to serve everywhere, to do it all — it’s a good thing. But if it means that I am sacrificing the primary responsibilities in my life in order to get all the other things done, it is absolutely not a good thing. And honestly, I’d go so far to say it’s sinful.
And so, thoroughly convicted, I started chiseling away at things.
My role as a wife is crucial. So, we still meet with our mentors weekly. It is a sweet, special time, and it has made a huge difference in the way my husband and I communicate. We have made time for dates, as often as possible, striking up a deal with our dear “Tia.” We trade dinner one night for one night of babysitting — win, win because we get to be with our sweet friend and still get a date night! We read books and talk about them. We try to connect as often as possible, with three tiny, needy people surrounding us.
I am a mother. To those tiny, needy people I mentioned. They are young and they need me so much more than they might need me at a later stage in life. My job now is to raise them; show them attention and affection and love; teach them how to eat properly and play ball with them; read books with them and take them on walks; teach them about God and how much he loves them and make lasting and treasured memories. So, that’s what I try to do. Saturdays are sacred family days. We usually start it at the beach and try to be as intentional with that bonding time as possible.
I am still a part of a small group that meets twice a month. I do still serve in the toddler ministry at church. But other than that, I’ve cut it all out for now, and you know what, I’m so glad I did! To be so busy, for me, was not okay.
I am too much of a Martha sometimes, and I am grateful for the wake up call that persuaded me to find my inner Mary.
Maybe you don’t struggle with this, and kudos to you! But, if you do, and you are feeling stretched thin and that you can’t do it all without messing everything up — please, know that it doesn’t have to be that way! Figure out your primary roles for this season life, and devote yourself to those. And find the peace and calm the Lord brings about in the process.
I still don’t sleep very much, but hey, it IS just a season.
p.s. No, it’s not me in the photo. But I dig her highlights.