When I walked into my therapist's office for the first time over 3 years ago and told her a little bit about myself, my life and my daily activities (which in comparison to a lot of people I knew were relatively manageable in my mind) - I was more than willing to acknowledge the panic attacks that had gotten me a referral there in the first place. So I thought I was pretty open minded when I asked for her help in discerning which activity (or commitment) I should back away from. I give her a lot of credit for not laughing. She smiled gently and said something along the lines of "oh no, honey, not which one do we get rid of - maybe which ONE we keep...but for now we're going to stop everything." I don't know how to describe my reaction other than "huh?"
When you're feeling overwhelmed (and some of us can function in that gear for years) it's a good idea to get a little dose of someone else's perspective. I have for the majority of my adult life cared a great deal about what other people thought of me - as a person, as a wife, as a mother, as a writer, as a speaker and trainer (as in work classes not workouts)...as a Christian. My sister pointed this out to me on several occassions but I denied it. That's what people in denial do.
I think I may have had a few reprieves in there when I was walking a little closer to the Lord. I remember a huge feeling of relief when I was reading Max Lucado's book "It's Not About Me" when I came upon his great piece of wisdom "the best thing about it not being about me was that it also wasn't up to me." Ahhh..liberation.
That's how I felt after several more therapy sessions as I completely shut down every commitment except Mom and Wife. Liberation. I stopped answering e-mails, stopped returning phone calls, stopped volunteering for school, stopped making lists of every house project I had to complete now that all the kids were in school full time, and took 10 steps back from my church commitments. I stopped everything. And I could breathe again.
You may have noticed these were all "good" activities I was involved in. But there is a huge difference between being called to something and having an opportunity to do something. Between "purpose" and "possible" there lie a lot of people who are increasingly short of breath.
My Mom has struggled (publicly or I wouldn't write about it) with what she calls "False Responsibility". If it was a gene I'd tell you I inherited it, but I know plenty of people whose parents were never like that who spend their lives trying to fix every problem, better every situation, fill every need and mend every broken heart. There's only one problem with that. It's not their job.
As a Christian, I believe we are called to things. Places and people God specifically wants us to encounter. Some are for a season (that's another thought for another day) and some are for longer. But they never leave you short of breath. Stretched a little, occasionally uncomfortable even, often challenged. But not gasping for breath.
And the kicker is, as much as I try to accomplish anything where I am NOT called, all I'm really doing is delaying someone else who IS called from arriving.
When you get the chance to start over with a clean slate - which is exactly the chance Christ gave us on the Cross - you can see so much clearer the place or relationship you are called to. And the God who is calling you there.