Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Too Busy

Here are some of the things I'm trying to do/roles I'm trying to fill at this stage of my life:
being a mom
being a wife
taking care of my house
being a pastor's wife
being a "sister" in the church (different from being a pastor's wife)
being a friend
being a teacher
being a sister, daughter, and aunt

It's too much.
I'll be the first to admit that I would be miserable if I wasn't busy, but this is way excessive and the signs are obvious that the jug in my brain is overflowing.

Yesterday I was signed up to take supper in to a new mom, and I completely forgot until I was in Eugene taking Steven to choir and got a phone call. And screamed. And got Amy to go buy pizza and run it over there.
Today I was scheduled to talk with my sis on Skype and forgot until she called me on the phone.
Yesterday was Paul's sister's birthday and I forgot to call her.

I have that dreadful sense of panic where everything seems to be falling through the cracks and I have a constant nagging sense that I'm forgetting something. I keep praying about this whole thing and asking God, "What am I supposed to cut out of my life???"

And no clear answers are written across the sky.

I do know I need to think more carefully before I say Yes to stuff. In a series of insane moments I committed myself to about TEN writing/speaking/teaching assignments in February. Really really dumb.

Tomorrow my niece Annette is coming to visit. I am very excited about this, but I just hope I am able to focus on her and enjoy her and minister to her without being too distracted by life. She's Lenny's older sister, and it has been a very rough 7 months since his death.

When I look at my list, the one role I would really love to resign is being a minister's wife. I know that doesn't sound very spiritual, but it's true. We expect an awful lot out of our Mennonite ministers. Someone told Paul recently that he should make more noise about this from the pulpit and tell people what it's really like. Well, the trouble is that the 90% of the congregation who are wonderful and supportive would ask for help even less, and the 10% that drain your very soul dry would never get the point, and would call during supper the next evening and talk for an hour.

I've been taking on about two speaking assignments a month (three this month--sigh) and I need to cut back to one even though speaking is so much fun it ought to be illegal. I mean, it doesn't take that much preparation, and you get to talk to people and they actually listen to you, and no one interrupts, and you can say whatever you want, and afterwards they applaud. What a dream job.

But no, I seem to be called to spend more time counselling people who aren't going to do what I say, and making food that will disappear before the oven is cool.

Yes, I am feeling very cynical.

Maybe March will be easier.

P.S. a few hours later: Paul came in and told me the Honda won't start because I left the lights on last night. See what I mean?

Quote of the Day:
"I'd prefer if you don't sound like a whining cat."
--Ben, after he stepped on Steven's foot and he said, "EEEOOOWWW!!"


  1. i can relate to this post! last eve. 4 kids got dropped off at our house as i'd told the mom at lunch that yes we'll be home and then totally forgot about it till they came in the door,talk about freaky!

  2. Dorcas..you are too nice of a person, But dont burn yourself out..its ok to say "no" sometimes.
    Now for one last question...am I in the 10%? :)

  3. And I thought that living in cold dark Michigan was the cause of my feeling cynical and depressed.

  4. As for hour long phone calls at dinner - caller id and answering machines are wonderful things! It's tough to set boundaries (extra tough for ministers I think) but so necessary!

    Hmmm. Now if only I could figure out how to apply that to my life!

    Another Mrs.S

  5. I know exactly what you mean! Some days are worse than others too! Our Pastor reminds us all the time that,
    "Sometimes you have to say no to some really good things so you can say yes to God's better things".

    Now applying that is a lot harder, especially if you're a people pleaser like I am who is afraid to hurt someone's feelings.

    I can't relate to being in the ministry. My husband & I have been involved in ministries with Pastors over the years and my own father became a Minister after I was grown so I only have a glimpse into that world. The demands made my people are very real but also very unreal.

    Our church has grown from 13 families to over 5,000 in just 7 years, It's be physically impossible for our Pastor to be available for that many people and not ignore his own family.

    One crucial ministry our church has is its Life Groups. It's in those groups of 10-12 people that we "do life" together, helping to meet one another's physical, economical and spiritual needs.

    Just one example is when I was in the hospital for my surgery, they came and visited, prayed for me and brought meals to my family. One family in our group lost everything (cars, house, income etc) due to a partner stealing from their company. They were loaned a car until they could buy one. We have 2 different men having surgery in the next 4 days, where we are going to gather together and pray over them before they go into the hospital. I could go on & on with examples and this is just MY group!

    When I find myself scattered and stretched thin, I can't help but wonder how effective in the kingdom I really am!

  6. Dorcas,

    Hey, there's this really cool invention that a Mr. Paul Smucker introduced me to in the early 90s... Daytimer. (Am I rattling your chain?)

  7. Arlene, you are not in the 10%, rest assured of that.
    Love the Life Groups idea.
    And Steve, the key here is that i'd have to remember to write stuff in the day-timer and to look it up again.

  8. Dorcas you just gave me a wonderful paradigm shift in what you said about speaking. I had to share with you that at least out of your frustration came a dawn of light in my life.

    I'm signed up for a speaking engagement that I've been somewhat dreading and you saying: "speaking is so much fun it ought to be illegal. I mean, it doesn't take that much preparation, and you get to talk to people and they actually listen to you, and no one interrupts, and you can say whatever you want, and afterwards they applaud. What a dream job." What a great way to look at it! Thank you.

    I love your blog and your columns in the RG. Thanks for writing. I'd definitely buy a box set of your works. :)


  9. The DayTimer idea is right on...
    But also maybe you need a secretary/agent... can I hire myselfs to you? ~ih

  10. ih--I would luuvv to hire you as a secretary/agent, especially if you washed windows now and then too!

  11. Thirty years ago this gave me helpful direction. I think a little differently about it now, but it is still good food for thought: Tyranny of the Urgent by Chas. Hummell. Read (or re-read!) online by Googling the title. (just what you need to do---add another thing to your schedule!)

  12. So sorry about the busy schedule ... you need a vacation or at minimum,a 24 hr reprieve to let your brain equilibrate! Just please don't cut out blogging when you start that prioritizing business. I absolutely love reading your posts! My schedule is pretty crazy right now, too, but when I finally log on, I always have to read all the "back issues" until I'm current!

  13. Hi,
    I'm just some guy who has always enjoyed reading your column and then discovered your blog to share with my wife.

    Forgive this personal comment but when I get in this state, I think it is a message that I need to get away! It is time to get in the closet (or where ever your praying place is) and just spend some time with God. Focusing on drawing closer to him and seeking his direction. We cannot do it all but we are commanded to seek Him first so when we are too busy, that may be a clue.

    Now also understand that I fail miserably at doing this myself, it is so hard to say no... but, it works if I only find or make the time to seek Him out for peace and direction. I wonder why it is so hard to do?


  14. My guess is that Paul (if asked) would say that you enjoy the chaos, otherwise, you would not choose it.

  15. Dorcas, years ago I remember you asking some of us older ladies if we'd recommend being more involved with ministry when we have young children. I've often thought of that question. It's helped me keep my priorities right since I've gotten back into the stage of having young children. [I don't think one mother wished she'd have spent more time in ministry outside of the home when her children were small] I guess when the children get into middle school, and more time is available, other opportunities loom. Here's to wisdom for you!!! Edith

  16. Dorcas, arrange your priorities to radiate outward from your marriage. That may even mean cutting out the speaking engagements.

    When I set out to practice that, I cut out writing for the CLP youth SS quarterly. And other near-and-dear projects.

    And I'm still overwhelmed and need to cut more.

    I fear that at times my thoughts and feelings would cause Ben to admonish me as he did Steven. :(

  17. Sounds like the olden days when I was a school teacher in Delaware. :-) Somedays I thought I'd go crazy, but now that my life has slowed down to like a screeching haught(I'm sure that will change soon;)I find myself missing those times. I miss the feeling of being so needed and having so much purpose in life that I was never wandering,"why am I here, or what is my purpose?" And by the way some of the people who I thought were listening to me the least, (or the ones I was the most frustrated with) are the people now who still call me, write to me, and appreciate me the most. Mostly, what I miss though was the knowledge that I had of my daily dependency on God. He was especially close to me in those moments that I felt I could not go on.
    On the other hand I did have to learn to say "NO" to some things, and that was hard because I always felt as if I was letting someone down,or even God down, and there were many times that He would remind me that He was more than capable to keep things running smoothly without my help. Anyway, I apologize for this scattered and rather long comment. ;-) Your email just struck a cord with me because I remember having some of those same frustrations not all that long ago. I just wanted to encourage you to take time to rest in Jesus and also that you may be making a difference even when you aren't aware of that fact. Hang in there!