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According to a popular online dictionary site, the word worn is described as a past participle of the word wear. It means: diminished in value or usefulness through wear, use, handling, etc.; to be wearied; exhausted.
Are you feeling worn?
I’ve felt that way during many seasons in my life. Worn. Tired. Exhausted. Overwhelmed. I didn’t know the exact point I’d arrived in that condition, but I definitely knew when I was living in it!
Life lost its luster. Things that normally would bring me joy, now seemed dull and uninviting. A cloudy sense of depression threatened like a gloomy 5-day forecast on the weather channel. I’d never planned to being in that place – yet I’d wind up there time and again. Why did I repeatedly do the things that brought me to that point of being worn to threads? Could it have been helped? Did I really have a choice? I certainly didn’t think so.
The experts say to examine your life and eliminate the things that cause stress, or aren’t necessary. Manage your time and you’ll have more of it they quip. But, looking at my to-do list back then, every item on it was a must-do. It was an illusion that I was managing my time…my time was definitely managing me. A slave to the clock, I was sprinting at its incessant demands. Only one person stretched so many ways not knowing that I simply couldn’t do it all — convinced that I must, I was wearing myself paper thin.
That’s when self-pity would come whispering in my ear. With the slightest nod of agreement with myself, an entourage of victim-type thoughts would come tumbling into my mind. Yet, the requests for my time and energy continued to pour in like a faucet without a shut off valve. I was drowning.
Like the tiny lint ball stuck to a penny that I’d found shoved in the bottom of my jean’s pocket, I felt forgotten and of not much value — just there– causing an uncomfortable lump. It was hard to see my personal worth, when no one else seemed to notice the load on my shoulders. But why did I need someone else to validate my situation? It wasn’t just with others, I was overly demanding of myself as well. I never felt satisfied in my own work or personal performances. Dropping into bed at night I would go over all the things I felt I did wrong that day – or at least how I could have done them better. So, the cycle would continue — pushing myself to the limit…until the day I hit the wall– permanently.
Surely this isn’t the way we’re meant to live, regardless of how important we think we are. It seems the more technology we have (which is supposed to help us streamline our workload and increase our productivity) the more we’re pulled in all directions. The world is spinning faster, demands on us are ever-increasing and time will not be rewound.
But, the good news is…we do have a choice.
We can choose not to become worn.
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Day 1 – Reflective Session
What does your everyday responsibility list look like? There’s probably more items on it than you realize. So, we’re going to jot it all down right now. Come on, choose to engage in this week’s Five for Five.
Grab your journal and make a quick list of everything (and I mean every single thing) that is your responsibility to do each and every day. As you go through today, if you remember something that isn’t on the list, be sure to go back and add it when you get time.
(This week’s Five for Five will be continually referring to this list so please try to do it now if you can.)
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 (NIV)
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Reflective Session – Day 2
If you didn’t make your list yesterday, that’s okay, but please stop and do it now. If you did, pull it out now. Wow! You really are a busy person aren’t you?
What feeling does it give you as you look at all that’s written there? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment? Importance? Resentment? Perhaps a feeling of guilt surfaces from viewing what you have been putting off? Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed just looking at it. (There’s no right answer here.) But, whatever you’re feeling, pay attention to it.
We all have a list like this. Though, different, we all have demands on us each day. But, perhaps the way we look at our list can make a big difference in how we approach our days (and our responsibilities.)
Now go to the bottom of your list and write down those feelings that surfaced as you viewed all that is required of you each day.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. Matthew 11:28 (Msg)
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Reflective Session – Day 3
By now, your list should be complete, with any forgotten tasks now added on. Today, as you look over the list ask yourself what things are absolutely necessary each day. Using a #1, #2 or #3, number and sort your tasks into three categories:
- #1 – I am the only one that can do this task – and it must be done each day.
- #2 – I am the only one that can do this task – but I could cut back and do it less often.
- #3 – I am not the only person who could handle this task – I could ask someone else to take this responsibility.
The truth is, many times there are things we could ask someone else to be responsible for, but we hang onto the thought that we must do it ourselves for it to be done right. We know how we like things done, so we just handle it. But we need to shake off that perfectionist mentality and give others a chance as well. Besides, who says our way is the best way? Practice letting go…
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 (ESV)
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Reflective Session – Day 4
You now have three categories to your task list. Take all items labeled #3 and list them on a new paper to be assigned to someone else. (You don’t have to come up with “who” just yet, but the idea is to remove them from this list today.*)
Now, for the #2’s… look at each one – can you assign a particular time to take care of it? (example; Saturday mornings will now be when I will go grocery shopping, pick up dry cleaning, scrub the bathroom, do laundry.) The point is you are assigning a time and day to these #2 tasks.
Now, you should only have #1 items left on your list. If you found that most of your items are #1’s – you’re not alone. It’s amazing how many demands really are on us each day. And we wonder why we are wearing thin and burning out!
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace –as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. 1 Corinthians 14:33 (NIV)
*At the end of this week’s Five for Five: Don’t forget to ask others for their help in taking on a new task from the #3 list.
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Reflective Session – Day 5
This week you have taken the time to examine all that pulls at you each day. Today, I want to challenge you with a new thought. Take your list and a new piece of paper (or use the next page in your journal.)
On the blank page write a positive statement of gratitude for each item from your list of #1’s.
– Drive kids to and from school (from the list of #1’s)
– I have healthy happy children. (‘gratitude’ statement from drive kids to and from school task.)
Once you have created a positive statement that invokes gratitude for each #1 item, add the task to the related gratitude statement.
-I have healthy happy children that I drive to and from school.
Something as simple as changing the way we view our responsibilities can have a huge impact on our emotions. Maybe just by changing our perspective, we can begin to see that responsibilities also represent blessings. Giving it a try, we might find little sprouts of gratitude beginning to sprout up in our bare land of weariness.
Instead of seeing each item on our list as a have to, can we see we that we actually get to do these things? The things we do each day for others are actually part of the blessing of being fully human. The positive impact we leave in another’s life is a true, lasting, and eternal gift.
As we embrace gratitude for the gifts in our life, a new sense of thankfulness grows inside us. Gratitude and thankfulness imply that we are grateful to someone. Do you think that perhaps God has blessed your life and that the gratitude you feel is directed toward Him? If not, where do your feelings of gratitude flow?
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17 (ESV)