Thursday, April 10, 2014

t3 - tracing water droplets

When I was so little we still lived in the big yellow house, I loved taking showers in my parent’s bathroom. They had a stand-alone shower with a translucent glass door that snapped into place. I would stay in the shower until my fingers shriveled up and the water turned cold. 

What would I do for so long? Trace water droplets. My prune-like fingers would connect the tiny dots of water until the droplet was so heavy it would slide down the glass. Sometimes it was a game - how fast can I connect all the droplets until they all fall down? I was never fast enough. Before I could finish, the shower head splattered a new garden of droplets to be connected.

Last night I was tired and cranky and frustrated and antsy, so I did the only relaxing thing I could think of: I took a shower. I let the shower beat down on me until my fingers shriveled up and the water turned cold, hoping to wash away all the pent-up anxiety. It didn’t work.

Instead, I started tracing water droplets. Each little droplet represented a task I needed to finish, another item on my to do list, a responsibility that I couldn’t shake. The droplets just kept collecting and collecting until the weight was too much to bear. I try to do more, to manage my time better, to work faster, but by the time I’m finished, new droplets have covered the shower wall again. The cycle continues. And I’m drowning.

For a moment I get a glimpse of what the rest of my life will look like: an 8 to 5 job that I love but is not my passion with the remaining hours dedicated to cooking, cleaning, house-keeping and husband-pleasing. A good life for sure.

But when will I have time for dreaming and creating and living and doing? When you’re constantly playing catch-up, when do you have a chance to do the things that really matter? The things you’ll remember when you’re 83 and rocking on the front porch telling your grandbabies and your great-grandbabies of a life well-lived.

I want those moments full of life and joy. I don’t want to drown. So, I’m making a few changes…

1. I’m becoming unplugged. I turned off virtually all of my phone notifications. I’m tired of being constantly connected. I won’t be responding immediately to your Facebook comments or your Instagram tags. I won’t even see right when you email me. And when I walk in the door after work, I might just put my phone away for the night. If you need me, call me. 

2. I’m becoming unconcerned. I mean this in the best way possible. It’s okay that the dishes still need to be put away and the laundry still needs to be folded and the living room needs to be picked up. Right now I’m writing what’s on my heart, and that’s something that’s important to me. That’s something to be passionate about. The chores will always be waiting, but inspiration and creativity are fleeting. 

3. I’m becoming undivided. “Teach me your ways, Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart that I might fear Your name.” ~Psalm 86:11. I always “do” my quiet time, but I don’t always spend sweet time with Jesus in the morning. When I feel heavy with responsibility, it’s so easy for my mind to wander. I pray daily for an undivided heart - that God will get the best of me every day - not what’s left over.

And I know this won’t be a quick fix. I know some days the flood waters will rise and threaten to consume me, but I’m hoping with these changes those days will be few and far between. And even more, I’m hoping I’ll spend more days living and less just surviving.

How do you escape the overwhelm, the collection of water droplets, the never-ending to-do list?


  1. i feel like i am right there. everything just continues to pile on & you think you can't possibly take another step with everything you're carrying! adult life is so overwhelming.

    i love your 3 things! i turned off my phone notifications a few months ago and it's the best thing i ever did! i can check it on my own time instead of constantly being told there's something to check. a lot of times i do put my phone down when i get home and don't pick it up until i set my alarm when i'm going to sleep. i've actually thought about getting a real alarm clock so i don't have to look at my phone at all at night. i think there's just something so freeing & relaxing about being unplugged sometimes. i think it's needed.

    being unconcerned about all the chores needing done is something i'm working on! i have to remember that there are more important things than always having a clean house. and even if people come over.... it's okay if my house isn't perfect. my life isn't perfect and i want to invite people into my life where i'm at which is sometimes messy.

    i think being unplugged has helped me some with my mind wandering so much. it is definitely something i'm still working on though! and sometimes it's so hard! i'll be sitting there praying and my mind will start thinking about what i need to do... so i redirect my thoughts and then a minute later it's wondering again!

    sorry i keep writing novels in your comments! lol one other thing i've done that helps me to not feel so overwhelmed is to get intentional rest when i need it. if there's 5 things i need to get done, but my body is exhausted, sometimes it's more important for me to go to sleep and get the rest my body needs. that way the next day i can be refreshed & more productive! rather than staying up late to do things & then dragging the next day.

  2. This is so beautifully written and I have been in your shoes!

    First, I think setting the phone aside with all the notifications can do wonders. I don't work full time and I was still overwhelmed by all the social media. When I went to HI I deleted FB off my phone and I won't be adding it back.

    One of the reasons I went to Korea was because I was so darn busy! I would get up at 7ish, work all day, eat dinner with friends, go work out and then spend about 2 minutes in the Word and crash. It was not a beneficial schedule so I cut ties and went to Korea where I had to start fresh and really re-prioritize. I know moving abroad isn't feasible for everyone but I do know that cutting things out, like you are already doing, can do wonders!

    One last thing - when I get overwhelmed I often think of the story of Mary and Martha and how Mary picked the better part. I try and remind myself to 'pick the better part'.

  3. I am all about number 1!

  4. A little over a year ago, a good friend of mine shared a message about learning to rest....maybe you remember it? ;)

    Good for you for taking steps towards simplifying your life. Keep pressing into God, because i know He'll always be there for you to lean on!

    You go girl - well done :)

  5. Don't apologize! These are the best comments to get - the kind where you know someone really connected to what you are saying!

    Turning off my phone notifications has been pretty great, but I still need to get myself out of the habit of checking it - which will be hard since I'm constantly checking social media for my work during the day.

    On the other hand, I'm a little too good at being unconcerned - as in I was supposed to get up early to turn our dishwasher on (long story - our dishwasher is weird) so we would have clean dishes for breakfast. I didn't. So I walked in to Daniel eating cereal out of a mixing bowl this morning.

    And undivided will always be a work in progress. I've found that when I start my quiet time if I will write out or pray out everything that's on my mind or needs to be done and just give it up to God at the beginning, I'm more ready I am to pay attention the rest of the time.

    Okay, there's your novel response! Glad we are friends - you are always so encouraging!

  6. I dream of being completely unplugged, and I definitely plan on being when we go on vacation in May! Unfortunately, moving to a foreign country is not in our cards (at least for the next three years) so I will have to continue my little cuts.

    And I have always identified with the Mary and Martha story. When I have the choice between getting a chore done or sitting down with my Bible I always tell myself, "You have chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from you."

    Thanks for the encouragement, Beka!

  7. I'm slowly but surely learning to be!

  8. Ha... I need to meet this friend.... or at least go back and read her words. Seems like a lifetime ago. Thank you, Esther, for being a great friend. Know that you've been on my heart and in my prayers. The great thing about our God is that He can be both my Solid Rock AND yours.

  9. Yes to being unplugged. Even a couple hrs a day makes a huge difference!

  10. I loved reading the story about the water droplets! Such a sweet glimpse into a part of your life. I SO know what you mean about really taking hold of live and living it in a way that you LOVE. I pray these changes are just what you need in order to do those things you want to accomplish. Unplugging is a good idea! I need to follow suite!

  11. Jenny, what a poignant and beautifully written post. I too have been struggling with feeling overwhelmed- especially with my "online life." I'm realizing that once it starts to feel like an obligation it's time to take a break. Thank you so much for sharing this encouragement!!

  12. The unplugged thing is a huge reason--the main one, in fact--that I still haven't gotten a smart phone. When I leave the house, I leave the internet behind, and I be honest, it's glorious. #3 is what I struggle with... Giving God my best, not just what's left over. I'm working on it, and hopefully with his help, getting better!

  13. Yes, it does. Especially when I'm so "plugged in" at my job - I don't even want to look at my phone at the end of the day!

  14. Thank you so much, Jenna. I'm so glad I turned off my notifications, but I need to break the habit of grabbing my phone when I'm "bored" and just enjoy the fact that there is nothing to do to fill that time.

  15. Definitely! I've always said when blogging becomes not-fun it's time to quit. I enjoy writing, but I never want it to be an obligation.

  16. Not having a smart phone really would be a blessing, though I can't do my job without it. Sometimes convenience also brings stress...

    And, we can work on it together! Being undivided has always been a struggle of mine.