I can’t do it all.

I’m asked pretty frequently, “How do you do it all?”

It is true, I am a DMIN student at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. It is true, I homeschool my two daughters. orchestra, piano, violin, soccer practice, yes.  It is true I serve as a spiritual director with children. Yep, I garden, yep, we’ve got some chickens, yep, I do some writing, and some speaking. That is all true. Mostly when I hear this I want to say, “You don’t have the whole story.”

The whole story is that I don’t do it all. The whole story has at least two more parts. One is that I have learned to say, “No.” The tasks I am engaged in are things I have thought about and prayed about. I do not do them because I have been manipulated into doing them. I do not do them because I feel some sort of external or internal pressure to do them.  I am not climbing ladders, and I am not trying to please the crowd. And in fact I am not overly busy. I have time to enjoy a glass of port almost every evening. I have time to have at least one long chat with my Dad everyday. I have learned to say “No” to TV, “No” to hours on social media, and “No” to time sucking gossip.  Granted the tasks that make up my day are not all unicorns and rainbows, but they are ones I have discerned where  I can work in sync with the Kingdom with effectiveness and joy.  When I am asked to add another “to do”, I pass the invitation through this lens. It has helped me to remember that just because I have the skills or an open space of time does not warrant saying, “Yes.”

The second part is that I do not do any of these things alone. I am not a one woman band. I have a fleet of excellent professors and advisers at George Fox, they believe I can do this and they support me along the way. My husband is one of the smartest men I know, he takes the hard math and science questions. Over the years my parents have become tremendous support.  I am a member of a small group that has been meeting for two years, we are multigenerational and the sustenance we offer one another is paramount. It was for certain paramount last Sunday, when they gently reminded me that I cannot do it all and further I’m not even expected to.  I constantly draw insight and intelligence from my spiritual direction with children colleagues. I meet with a spiritual director regularly. Really this list could go on for days.

My confession is that sometimes I do feel overwhelmed.  I, now, understand that when I feel this way; it is time to take a look at my life.  It’s time to take a break and discern if I have bought into the lie that I can do it all.

The truth of the matter is that life is better lived intentionally. Prevalent joy in our work, even difficult work, can be had when we are intentional.  A “boot strap” life is lonely and frankly I could never pull it off. (Think about that a minute.) As I grow older I much prefer the “Birkenstock life*.” Indulge me here…I can’t run in Birkenstocks. If I try they will fly off and hit the nearest child.  Just saying. Further, when walking in Birkenstocks on a dirt road, rocks frequently sneak into my shoes, just to get me to stop and look around a bit.  But if I need a shoe that will help me walk a steady, intentional, no frills, pace with others, this is a good choice.

So how about you? What’s your current shoe choice? (metaphorically speaking) What does this say about your life? Time to take a discerning look at your life, your use of time, your commitments?


*Birkenstocks is the metaphor I’m using for the “going slowly and intentionally life.”

6 thoughts on “I can’t do it all.

  1. Love the metaphor. My sandals have gathered so many stones lately that I’ve resorted to the skinned knee approach to creeping forward.

  2. Good thoughts. I’m currently at the other end of the perspective. I have been a stay-at-home mom for almost two years, and my youngest just started kindergarten. When people find out both of my kids are in school every morning and I don’t work, they ask (directly or indirectly), what do you do with all that time? Being busy is valued in our society. When you choose not to be, the response from others can be challenging.

  3. Danny, I think you’re in good company. Once,I heard of a man who wrestled with God for a blessing and limped for the rest of his life. But I don’t think he’d trade his limp for anything.

  4. Carolyn, I hear you sister! Saying “No thanks” can be met with a “Well, what else do you have to do?” I think our culture has glorified busy and people don’t know any other way to respond. With grace and kindness I hope to live differently in my sphere of influence. Praying that for you too.

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