I love lists. I love being organized. But it’s gotten to the point where I feel smothered under a pile of scraps of paper with all the things I’m supposed to do…and never get done.
Let me tell you just how many lists we’re talking about.
Kitchen: one shopping list, one menu list, one recipes-to-try list= 3 lists
Dining room/living room: one list of meal plans for Brian, one list of house hold projects for Brian, one list of wedding gifts, one list of addresses for thank you cards for the wedding gifts = 4 lists
Bedroom: two camping packing lists, 4 lists in the nightstand drawer = 6 lists
Guest bedroom: six sticky note lists, one weekly cleaning list, one to do list, one calender, 5 sticky note lists in the desk drawer, one notebook with probably a hundred daily to do lists = 114 lists, approx.
Pretty much, the only place in our apartment where I’m safe from the barrage of Things-I-Should-Do is in the bathroom.
Each line on each list is one pang of guilt. I didn’t sweep the kitchen yesterday, I’m not going to dust today, we didn’t hang the valance last weekend, I haven’t written that blog post yet, I meant to have half of my thank you cards mailed by October, and now I’ll probably be lucky if it’s done by Christmas.
Not everything is time consuming, not everything is important. I know that, but I still feel like everything should be a priority. I feel like I should have more crossed off at the end of each day. I feel like I should have made progress by now.
It got to the point where I felt so overwhelmed and guilty that everyday around 4 p.m, I curled into a ball on my bed and cried. I cried because I can’t do it all, and I really want to. I cried because everyone wants something from me, and I don’t have anything to give. I cried because I’ll probably never accomplish half of the things I want to, and people will be let down, and it will be my fault. I cried because the more time I take to recharge and relax, means the more hurried and stressed I’ll be when I come back.
Jesus admonished a stressed-out and overwhelmed Martha:
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41, 42)
I thought and prayed over this verse, and I finally told Brian that I feeling overwhelmed, and a little depressed. He asked me lots of questions, all beginning with, “Do you feel like…How does it make you feel when…” in true psychiatrist style. But actually it really helped me to pin-point my problem: prioritizing and delegating. After we’d established that, Brian had me gather all my lists from throughout the house and combine them into one big list, not including the 100 daily to-do lists. It took up three pages of notebook paper! Seeing all the tasks together in one place was at once overwhelming and soothing, since I didn’t have to try to remember where they were written down anymore.
Like the engineer he is, Brian had me put them into an excel document and number each according to priority, 1 being past due. This was hard. It took me a while, but I realized how much weight I’d been giving to less important things, and re-evaluate things I’d been neglecting. Brian also encouraged to delegate to him anything that he was capable of doing. When I only assigned him installing the valance, he was actually offended, and insisted he could do the laundry, vacuuming, taking out the trash and newspapers, and washing dishes. And he did!
Am I a blessed wife or what?! I’m so grateful that God used my husband to help me get my priorities straightened out. I know it will be a struggle still to stay focused, but with practice and His help, I can stop worrying about many things, and choose the one thing that is needed.
Have you struggled with being overwhelmed? How do you prioritize?