I used to pride myself on being a recently converted activity-aholic. Busy was my middle name. I thrived on it. I bragged about it. I reveled in it. I even complained about the pace ... with a twinkle in my eye.

But then something happened about a year ago. I was looking at my schedule ... with an activity (or two) marked in each day of the week as far as my eye could see. And I realized that I didn’t want to live that kind of life anymore. So as the school year approached, I heard myself saying that one little word that packs so much punch, that carries so much weight, that I had almost never heard myself say "no." And I started weeding out my schedule, until I found myself at home with my children three to four full days each week.

At first, I thought for sure I would go stir crazy -- just me and two toddlers. Surely the white van would be coming down my street at any moment to take me away. But that is not at all what happened. My pace slowed. My mind cleared. My soul breathed a sigh of relief. And I began to enjoy life and see life and feel life. Stress lifted away. I began to know my children more deeply. I began to get to know myself again. And I began to notice God in the dailiness of my life.

One year later, I began preparing for another fall. And I found myself reaching back for last year’s unhurried movements with longing -- because I had gotten myself into a bit of a bind. I had more on my list of to do’s for the next six months than I have done over the past two or three years combined. And frankly, I was a bit scared that I’d bitten off too much. And I was definitely overwhelmed. In a way that I hadn’t been in years.

If I were to list off all I had got going, well ... first of all, I don’t think you’d believe me. And secondly, I think all it would do would make me wallow in self-pity a bit longer. So I won’t. I’ll just share with you that I had so wanted to spend this coming year just hanging out with my children (as this is our last ‘normal’ year together, before my Sara enters kindergarten next fall). But that was not going to happen. I had taken on projects -- months-long projects -- one huge one after another. And I was buried under regret, let alone wonderment as to how I planned to tackle all of this.

But then I did something about it. In three steps. I listed all the relationships in my life that I felt called to pour into this year. And I listed all the roles that I had taken on. (I about fell out of my chair at this point!) So I prayed. Boy, did I pray! I felt hopeless as to what I could possibly say no to. Maybe because it was past saying no -- I was going to have to undo some yeses. And because I am not a quitter -- that seemed impossible to ask of myself. I took no actions -- just spent about two days in prayer and thought about all of this. Then I did something huge. I quit! (Yikes!) I quit two huge tasks that I had just recently taken on. Both parties were so gracious and didn’t make me feel badly for a second. And they understood my motives -- they knew it wasn’t a character issue with me, but that I had simply taken on more than I knew I could juggle well.

Sweet relief. I have my life back for the next nine months. I can write and I can head up the women’s ministries at my church. But more importantly, I can build my home, spend unhurried time with my kids, love my husband, and rediscover God. Now, this is the life I dreamed of.

© Elisabeth K. Corcoran, 2001

Elisabeth K. Corcoran is the author of Calm in My Chaos: Encouragement for a Mom’s Weary Soul (2001), which can be purchased directly through her publisher, Kregel Publications at 1-888-644-0500, online at amazon.com or through your local Christian bookstore. This column is original and not excerpted from her book.

Purchase Calm In My Chaos at CBD