Hi friends and welcome to the Arise, Beloved blog. We have an amazing team of writers behind this blog and our desire is to speak truth into the lies that cripple us and shine light into the darkness that isolates us because we believe that now, more than ever, the Church desperately needs women to be restored so that the world can be set ablaze. Our hope is that you find comfort, solace, and peace in knowing that you are not alone, you are not too far gone and there is ALWAYS hope to be found.
By Anna Boehk
I have spent years looking for the perfect planner.
I tried customizable. Bullet journaling. Spiral-bound notebooks or blank journals. I got a leather-bound, then I got a mini, then a big one. I researched the fads. Every year I would try a new one, and every year – inevitably – I would toss it aside and try something else.
It was important to me to have the perfect planner but I was sure that if I had the Planner That Could Do It All…maybe I could do it all, too.
Very recently I was at work when I decided I had enough. I had in front of me covering my desk a full-sized desk calendar, my planner, a stack of post-it-notes, a notebook where I keep my to-do lists, my computer, a laptop, my phone with the apps that I use to schedule my work-out classes and my second job – yes, I have that too! – and I was trying to make plans with someone and had to make them for next month.
I have been living with a spirit of overwork, a spirit of malcontent, of bitterness and regret, because of my schedule. If I fell behind, I felt it. I didn’t allow myself the freedom to change plans – instead I had to squeeze them in. Or write plans in pencil. Or reply with a “maybe” and a “I’ll let you know!” and a “Let me check.” If I wasn’t able to say maybe, I had to say yes, because I definitely would not be able to say no. There’s no way a successful young woman could say no to helping someone out, or going on a date, or spending time with her friends, or – without disappointing. There’s no way she would say no without that being a cry for attention that something is wrong. And if she does manage to say no, she needs to apologize and give her reasons or her excuses or her can-we-take-a-rain-check and I-owe-you-big-time. And I felt that my time was wasted if I didn’t fill it. And if my to-do list was never completely checked off, I felt smaller. I liked to tell time by hatch marks on a calendar.
For someone who looks successful – a recent promotion, a full social calendar, volunteer work and classes and dates and “I have to do this” and “we need to do this” –
I don’t feel free.
I feel stretched thin and not enough.
I realized as I texted back “how about the week after that? Or the following weekend?” with a shrugging emoji to lighten the mood that I live and die by my schedule, but I’m accomplishing nothing.
I had to look at what I need for me. Not what I need to do. What they need. What do I need?
I needed a rhythm. Something to fall back on, to fall into. A natural ebb and flow. Inhale. Exhale. The quiet nudging of something stirring inside that says “you should do this.”
A rhythm isn’t defined by set times or alarms. The rhythm is a yawn. Your stomach growling. When you try to sleep in on Saturday but you wake up only 30 minutes later than you usually get up during the week. The rhythm is a craving, or a “hey you know what would be fun right now?” or a “I’m not sure I’m up for that.”
Every creature on earth – every planet, tree, tide, grasshopper, and labrador – moves with a rhythm according to the season and the night and the need to survive and a want for comfort. When did humanity decide a schedule was better?
Pause for a moment. Inhale. Exhale. Be mindful of only yourself for just one second. Whatever comes next can wait just long enough for you to imagine your life with a little more time, a little more flexibility. A little more listening to yourself and to the quiet inner workings of the Spirit. A little more loosey-goosey. When things come a little more natural. Paying attention to God’s whisper for you.
We need to focus on the rhythm of the day. The rhythm of inhale and exhale. The rhythm of “it feels like a good time to stretch” or to nap or to take a break, to eat, to check in with a friend, to pray. Do you feel like you can’t commit to another thing? Then don’t. Do you feel overwhelmed? Ask for help. Read on your commute. Wear fancy clothes when you’re just doing dishes. Celebrate everything – celebrate anything. In the quiet moments, what attracts your heart?
Sure. You can’t start skipping work. And if you’ve committed to something, you need to follow through. But give yourself time to be spontaneous, or not. You are allowed to say “actually I have plans tonight” even if the plans are with yourself. Or Jesus. Or calling your mom.
What do you need? What’s your rhythm? I’m still figuring it out. But asking yourself “what do I need?” – and being open to the answer, whatever it may be, is the first breath of your rhythm.
Yes, I got a planner for Christmas. But it’s color-coding and tabs do not define me. When I ask myself what I need…when I find out the answer…my response to the answer is what matters.
Ready to start over?