Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Just a Mom, Q & A - installment 2

I received a question for the Just a Mom series via my Facebook page...

I agree with the things in this series......a lot of it has echoed what God has been teaching me.

Once you embrace being more than just a mom, how do you make sure you don't cross over into becoming neglectful of your family? I know moms who are so busy doing good things they love, but their family, no their husbands, suffer. He's the one who ends up being just a dad who works.

Wow, what a great question! To be honest, I'm not sure I'm the best person to answer this question. Remember, I'm an over-committer. But I'll give it a shot.

As a chronic over-committer, I've come to learn a few things about taking on too much. Generally, I can detect the warning signs and slow down before it hits crisis point. Sometimes...not.

Warning Signs:

1. You're a "yes" woman.

Does it pain you to tell someone, "No, I'm sorry. I can't help out with that."??? If you were to measure your response ratio, do the "yes"es outweigh the "no"s? Do you find yourself constantly worrying about letting someone down?

2. You're frozen.

You know that feeling when  you have so much to do that you just don't know where to start? So you do nothing (except maybe mindlessly surf Facebook)? Yeah, that usually means you've got too much on your plate.

3. You're crabby.

Sometimes crabby just means overtired or PMS. But sometimes it can mean too busy. If crabby happens and you catch yourself saying, "I'm never going to get all this done!" it's the second reason.

4. You're told.

Has someone from your inner circle recently told you that you're too busy? Has someone you loved complained that you're too busy? Has your husband been inexplicably grumpy with you, especially when you're leaving the house?

An Ounce of Prevention:

A. Learn to be a "no" woman.

Your default response should be "no." Or at the very least, "Let me take some time to think and pray about it."

Remember that you are not responsible for meeting everyone's needs - you are responsible for meeting your family's needs and for obeying God. And if you agree to do everything, you may actually be stealing someone else's blessing. That's right, because by taking on things you're not called to you are essentially stepping into a calling that belongs to someone else. Stealing from them the blessing of serving.

B. Submit to your husband.

Ouch! That one pinches a bit, doesn't it? God gave your husband the overwhelming responsibility of leading your family. God asked you to be his helper. If your man needs more help, asks for more help, or shows signs that he's feeling overloaded - that's your #1 calling.

I try not to agree to taking on new things without talking to Pat first. (If I'm honest, sometimes I say yes and ask later. But when I do so, I try to start out with an apology for not talking to him first.) If your husband is a part of the decision-making, he's more likely to feel supportive of the things you're taking on.

C. Be in tune with the Spirit.

This is the ultimate way of assuring that you don't take on too much. Being in tune with the Spirit works two ways.

First, the Holy Spirit guides our paths (Proverbs 3:6) and tells us whether to turn to the right or the left (Isaiah 30:21). That way, we sense Him leading us toward a "yes" for certain things.

Second, the Holy Spirit gives us strength (Philippians 4:13), so that when it might seem we have a lot going on - as long as they are things ordained by Him - He can keep us moving forward.

A Pound of Cure:

Though you didn't ask this question, I'm sure you were thinking it (I know I would be)...

What should I do or say if I see a friend who has become too busy and is neglecting her family?

I. Pray.

I know it "feels" like doing nothing, but prayer is the absolute most important thing you can ever do for anyone.

II. Speak the truth in love.

If the right opportunity arises, and if your friendship is such that you can do so without causing permanent damage, and if you have a definite sense that God is nudging you to do so - speak the truth in love.

Love, grace, and understanding must permeate the whole conversation, or your words will fall on deaf ears and a hard heart.

III. Help.

Sure, her busy-ness is of her own making, as are the consequences. But true friends don't judge the motives of others to determine whether or not we should help. True friends help regardless of the motives, decisions, and consequences.

IV. Know when to step away.

True friends try and try beyond the point of exhaustion. But wise women also know when it's time to step back, remove yourself from a situation (or even a relationship), and leave things in God's hands.

You are not responsible for saving her family. You are only responsible to do the things God has called you to do for her and her family. Sometimes, we need to get out of God's way. Sometimes, He isn't able to do the work He needs to in a person's heart until they are alone with only Him for help.

Are you at risk of being "too busy?" Or do you see it in someone you love?

Related Posts:
When You Want to Help Everyone
When You Don't Agree with Your Husband
For the Overworked and Overwhelmed Woman, part one
For the Overworked and Overwhelmed Woman, part two


  1. OOoohh, frozen, crabby, told, yes girl... I can certainly relate to this! I also worry about the reaction, if it will cause hurt feelings, if that person will take it the wrong way... its a real challenge somedays to speak truth with love above exhaustion and frustration, I also wonder how has their day been and what obsticles do they have on their plate... I don't want to ask for help incase its a burden on them... what if their list is bigger than mine? What if they cant handle it? The biggest worry though is always what are they thinking about me... how do you convince yourself to you, without feeling like you must defend yourself to others?

  2. Those are all thoughts I've pondered, too, Lins. Here's my attempt at a quick answer.

    - Worrying about reaction and hurt feelings...

    It's good to be concerned about these things. That already means you're preparing to use loving words. It means you are likely to choose your words (and your timing) carefully. And you know, there are some people who you just can't tell the truth to, period. They're too sensetive, too defensive, and too insecure. That's why it's so important to be in tune with the Holy Spirit, because He will cause you to pause and rethink or He will give you the right words.

    - Asking for help...

    Someone once told me that not asking for help (or refusing help) when I needed it was, in essence, me shortchanging a friend of the opportunity to serve me. Because helping our friends is a blessing. It feels good. And turning down someone's help can feel like a rejection. Look at asking someone for help as your way of inviting that person into a closer relationship with you. You are not burdening that friend, you are honoring her. (If someone asks you for help with something, isn't there a part of you that feels special? Trusted? Blessed? Needed?)

    Also, it's not your job to worry about her list. It's none of your business what other people think of you. So you don't need to weigh, measure, and justify. You just ask. And then trust that your friendship is solid enough that your friend would be honest and tell you if she weren't able to help.

    You know, we were never supposed to do it all alone. We were created with a built-in need for community. Until the past few decades, neighborhoods didn't have fences and neighbors knew each other. They did life together. They bossed each other's kids around and brought one another meals and baking. The way we do it now is not natural. That's why I love being part of a church community; it's like getting back to the old neighborly way of doing life.

    P.S. When you admit that you "can't handle it," 99% of other women are thinking, "Oh, thank goodness! I thought she was perfect. I'm so glad to know that she's normal, like me." The 1% who judge you for needing a bit of help, they're still stuck in "fake it and make it" mode, and quite frankly, they're jealous that you have the freedom to stop faking. ;-)

  3. Ouch! All of the warning signs currently apply to me and I know it, but seeing it in black and white is a bit more of an ouch than just having the nagging feeling in the back of my mind. For me, it will be over one of these weeks (after I host my in-laws anniversary party where there are 60+ people here that I have to feed and 8 people staying here for the weekend) but I did overextend myself by agreeing to do it and realize that now.

    It's a good reminder for the future though to just say "no".


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