All or Nothing
I have noticed a tendency in myself and others to either do ALL or NOTHING. Oh, how I pray for the gray area of grace to manifest within us! We think it’s either black or white. This type of thinking can lead one down a path of exhaustion. In fact, that’s usually what happens; after I have been doing it all, I wear myself out and do nothing for a few days just so I can recover. Then, I do it all again for a while, nothing, then all, nothing, then all. I’m not the only one.
I have many friends who have been tricked into the same type of thinking. And, if you are a mom, this type of mentality arrived the day a crying, needy infant was placed in your arms for the first time. But, in regard to our mom duties, doing nothing is not an option. As a result, we do it all for years. At a certain point, however, especially in regard to our own self-care, we do nothing. When we do it all for so long, we learn to cut out what is not really necessary.
Usually, the only place we can afford to sacrifice our time is in all those things we need to do for ourselves. These include things such as eating right, exercising, taking 30 minutes to go on a walk with a friend (cheap therapy), spending 30 minutes in the Word, and/or spending 15 minutes on the phone encouraging a girlfriend with the Word. These are the things that get cut out of our mom-time-budgets, and these are the things that lead to our demise. Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slow, gradual, quiet process that creeps around, stealing one thing away at a time. I think Casting Crowns has a song that says, “People never crumble in a day..” If our lives were represented as a living room, it would be as if an extra throw-pillow on the couch was removed 1 month, then 2 months later, a coaster from the coffee-table coaster stack would be gone, then a picture off of the mantel, a movie off of the entertainment shelf, and/or a magazine from the magazine rack on the right hand side of the couch. Over the years, these things continue to go missing, but we don’t realize it until one day, we are standing in the living room (of our lives) and we realize that everything is gone! At this point, we find ourselves crying to our friend or all by ourselves saying, “I have nothing left! I’m spent, exhausted, and have nothing left to give!”
What in the world happened? For each tangible item that went missing, let’s replace their names with invisible things that make us who we are such as an emotion, a hope and/or dream of ours, self-care, a healthy diet, exercise, time in the Word, hobbies, prayer, and/or learning to living in the present. If we remove all these invisible things, we end up feeling numb and empty, with nothing left to give. We feel depleted and exhausted, which may result in anger, depression, hopelessness and despair. We also feel isolated and alone while our neighbor, Ethel, next door feels the same way, but neither one of us know it!
To expand on this thought: I was talking with Brenda the other night. We were talking about how we always have good intentions such as, “Oh, I need to send Suzy a card to tell her I’m thinking about her,” but we allow that thought to run passed our minds as quickly as our toddler or teenager darts across the living room, and the card never gets sent. We talked about how we both had a friend who was going through a difficult time and we wanted to do something for them, but we were thinking in that ALL OR NOTHING mentality. Brenda said, “Well, I really want to bake her something, but I’d have to go to the store and get the ingredients, and I really want to give her a card, but I want it to be a homemade card so she knows I took the time to think about her and make her a card from my heart, and I’d like to make her soup too…..” Long story short, because of this ALL mentality, NOTHING ends up getting done for the friend.
Then, we talked about how a friend would be thrilled to get a yellow sticky note in the mail that reads, “Praying for you, and I love you!” – but we never do such a small gestures because we don’t think it’s big enough. The truth is, however, that little things make profound impacts in our lives, and if we could let go of this ALL OR NOTHING mentality and rejoice in the GRAY area of sufficient enough grace, I think there would be more thoughtful yellow sticky notes than there are leaves on trees! As a result, the essence of hope rather than a sense of hopelessness would radiate across the land, uniting women with love, hope, faith, and a firm steadfast spirit!
I encourage you to mail a sticky note to someone when you think of them or call them on the phone. If you are really rushed for time, you can send them an email. Sending them a nice thought will be as impactful as baking them a reduced calorie apple pie or making them chicken noodle soup. And do yourself and all those in your life a favor today. Read the Word while you drink that first cup of coffee (or tea, or water), and exercise for 30 minutes.
I will be praying for the GRAY area of grace to grab a hold of you.
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.”
Kristina Seymour loves to encourage and equip women through the Word and through community. She is the author of The Warrior Mom Handbook, The Warrior Mom Leadership Manual, and The Warrior Wife Handbook; they are available at Amazon.com. Kristina's Bible studies are for women who desire to live by faith in the midst of their everyday lives. She has learned that women can't survive on caffeine and animal crackers alone; women in the Word and in community are united and able to stand firm. To learn more about Kristina, please visit her website, https://kristinaseymour.com/. God loves to share His story of love and grace through us all, and Kristina believes that everyone has a story to tell.