Are you tired? Worn out? Overwhelmed beyond fathom? Feeling like you are lacking something? Then, do more things.
Wait a second (insert terrible DJ scratch sound here circa 1999). That’s definitely not what the Bible verse says.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
This is Jesus talking to us. He asks if we are tired and burned out, and I’m betting if you’re anything like me, you probably could give a resounding “YES” as your answer.
But, the antidote that He gives us to our exhaustion can feel like some intangible notion or idea. I love how The Message version of this verse phrases Jesus’ direction, “...watch how I do it..” This feels tangible. This is doable. I can read through the gospels and see how Jesus lived. What did he value? How did he spend his time? What did he do day in and day out?
I might not live in Israel 2000 or so years ago, but I can certainly deduct what was valuable to Jesus. One thing that he valued without a doubt is simplicity - in His time, in his possessions, and in his relationships.
I want to focus on one aspect of that simplicity today: Simplicity of time. It can be so tempting to feel like adding more to your schedule will make things better. Or maybe you don’t feel like this, but you don’t know how to say no to adding another thing that seems good. Or maybe you have big goals for life and you don’t want to miss out on achieving them.
Here’s the truth: having more space in your schedule makes you more available for what really matters. When I look at Jesus and how he treated the time that he had, I see that he was always available for interruption. He made time for the important things, and he didn’t fill his schedule so full that any interruption made him go berserk.
If I don’t make space in my schedule, an interruption or unplanned neighbor stopping by or the need to go comfort a friend unexpectedly makes me go berserk. I want to be available to take care of my needs, comfort my friend, or chat with my neighbor. These are the kinds of things that I see in Jesus’ time. If I’m watching how he does it and following his example, I need to have space and capacity for interruption.
This is something that I have been learning and figuring out the past few years. How can I build a life that has holes in its schedule. It feels like everything and everyone around me is trying to reach in and snag a spot on that schedule. If I’m not careful, my calendar could be bursting at the seams clear until 2022.
I’ve learned some practical steps that have helped me structure a schedule that has built in space. I’m not perfect at it, and I don’t always get it right, but these are some habits and practices that work in my life right now to help me create a simpler schedule.
Following rules for my time
I am an introvert, so whether I want to admit it or not, spending too much time with people makes me tired. Even if I am spending time with people whom I love, I need to carve out space in my week to have time alone in order to be available mentally and emotionally for those unexpected moments.
Making rules for my time has helped me to do this well. For example, I only allow 2 planned social events throughout my week. If it is for a special occasion, 3 social events are allowed. I know for some of you extroverts out there, this sounds like your own version of a living hell. However, I like to follow this rule for my week, so that if someone stops by my house unexpectedly, I am not already at the end of my social rope.
Saying “no” to good things
I’ve heard it said that sometimes you have to say no to good things, in order to say yes to great things. I totally agree. If I say yes to every opportunity or experience that comes my way, I would leave no space for anything else.
I am learning to be ok with saying “no” to something even if I don’t have another commitment. It might not seem like I have reason to pass on something, but it is reason enough for me that I am making space and cultivating a simpler schedule.
This doesn’t mean that I always say “no” if I’m not feeling something. We all have to do things we don't like or don’t want to, and sometimes important events or occasions aren’t my top choice, but they are necessary.
Scheduling the things I want to do
My life is organized by my Google calendar. Once a week, my husband and I sit down and make sure our calendars are accurate with how we want to spend the week, and touch base with each other on our events.
I have found that scheduling things that are important but don’t seem like traditional “events” is helpful. This means things like grocery trips, time alone, and sometimes even going on walks are scheduled. If we don’t put things on the schedule, they often don’t happen.
A simpler schedule doesn’t just happen. We have to intentionally shape it. One way I am learning to be more like Jesus these days is finding the practices that help me to form a life that has space for interruption.
How do you make space for interruption?
Hi, I'm Emma!
A Maryland girl who moved to Washington state seeking adventure, I adore writing and delight in sharing my favorite things. I celebrate whimsy and you can find me doing a happy dance when something really strikes my fancy.