“He had led everyone in his house to live worshipfully before God, was always helping people in need, and had the habit of prayer.” Acts 10:2 (The Message)
I used to work like I’m irreplaceable in my job. Long hours, trying to stay ahead of the deadlines (most of the time) and burning out to the point of exhaustion. When I quit one job and transitioned into another (approximately 15 years ago), I was exhausted. It took me six months before I got the strength up to do more than work my new job and fall into bed at night.
I used to live the rest of my life as though I was replaceable. Just one more hour of work… I’ll volunteer in my kid’s classroom “next year”… I can read them a story tomorrow… Exercise? I can start next month when “things slow down.”
God started working a heart change in my life a few years ago. I think it started when I was given notice my job was being eliminated three weeks from that day. I realized that I was definitely replaceable at work… and quickly too. God didn’t stop there. He blessed our family that summer with a wonderful vacation with my sister and her family and then blessed me with another vacation with my extended family and I found out soon enough I was definitely irreplaceable to those who truly matter.
While God instructs us in His Word that we should work with excellence for others as though we’re working directly for Him, that type of work takes time. God also wants us to make sure we’re prioritizing our time with activities which are the best fit for our family, our lives and our personalities. Our best “yeses” means not filling up with “almost the best,” which leaves no time for the important things.
Last year, God continued this lesson for me by giving me an invitation. He invited me to put down my writing (except for my twice weekly blog posts) and spend more time with my family. He never promised that He would give me my writing back… and He didn’t tell me ahead of time the other plans He had for our family, just a simple invitation. Take the time to make memories with your family now.
Our family had started down my “writing path” approximately 5 years prior and it had been a busy five years. I was happy to take on that invitation as I love spending time with my family, although there was a part of me wondering if God was asking me to give up writing altogether. That made me sad, I’ll be honest, but I realized if that was truly what He was asking, I trusted God enough to 1) Obey and enjoy the time with my family and 2) If He truly was closing this door, He had another “best” door waiting to open for us.
As a result, I was able to walk away from the computer more, got re-involved with relaxing with my family at night, reconnecting with TV shows, spending time outside, family movie nights, silly excursions and just being actively engaged in their lives. God also invited me to volunteer in one child’s class twice a month, volunteer for concession stand periodically, and get more involved in church ministry.
As 2016 wound down and 2017 started up, God did indeed give me back my writing and then some. I find myself busier than usual again; but the lesson I learned last year stuck. I make more boundaries in the areas where I’m replaceable. Instead of just continuing to serve in areas “where I’ve always served” or do because I’ve always done, God has invited me to move away from certain areas that are great activities but not the best fit for our family at this time. Family time is held more sacred and we have the fun of last year’s memories to reminisce about and hold us together on the days that are tougher.
There are still days where work gets the better parts of me and family suffers and other days where work is put to the side and family is focused on. But God showed me in such a significant way that while I may think I’m replaceable most places, there are a few places where I’m the only “me” and I would be missed greatly if I wasn’t around anymore. Those are the places I want to focus on because those are the people who matter the most.
© Cheri Swalwell 2017