In my quest to trust the Lord’s daily portion, I’ve noticed something in my life: extremes. We humans like extremes. We swing from one extreme (“I NEVER eat sugar, ever, ever”) to the other (“All the donuts!!!!”). People who seek moderation are rare indeed.
Moderation. Balance. Those concepts are so integral to the blessing of the Lord’s daily portion. I know that. I seek moderation and balance, and yet I still seem to swing from one extreme to the other. Some days, I work very hard- too hard. I do everything. I don’t stop. I can keep going like that for weeks at a time. Months, actually. Like the Israelites in the wilderness with the manna, I gather and gather and gather.
And then, the crash. It’s inevitable, of course. I’m human. I wear out. No more gathering. At all. The opposite extreme kicks in and I just don’t do anything.
Over the course of time, this swinging is so destructive. When I’m in “gathering” mode, I’m doing too much to hear the Lord’s voice clearly. I’m just forging ahead, doing what seems the most urgent. In “sit in my tent” mode, I’m too tired to do what the Lord wants me to. Plus, the “manna” I hoarded is stinking (unfulfilled commitments are piling up and remaining undone), but I don’t have the energy to do anything about it.
I’m a single parent. Exhaustion is inevitable. (Trust me, married parents, you have NO idea. All the single parents are saying, “Amen!”) It’s draining to be everyone’s everything all the time. I’m going to have to work each day until I’m very tired.
What isn’t inevitable, though, is the crash. The push-past-the-limit-until-all-strength-gives-out crash. That’s something I bring on myself. Poor planning and overscheduling guarantee a crash. So does failing to recognize when my mind has reached its limit. (I have found that it’s often my mind that feels overloaded, even if I can still physically keep going.)
Recognizing that it’s my choice how much I “gather” each day is the first step toward finding the right amount. It’s easy to feel like circumstances beyond my control are directing my days, but I have more say in the matter than I like to admit. I can set priorities and plan ahead. (“Today, it’s most important that I…”) I can be realistic in my planning. (“I won’t schedule any projects right before we leave because it’s very likely that one of the kids will have a crisis on our way out the door.”) And, I can say no when things get to be too much. Even my kids have learned that Mom is “done” in the late evening.
Being “insanely busy” and “stressed”- how many times have those terms come up in conversations you’ve had lately?- does not make me a more committed Christian or a better mom. Insane and stressed people aren’t really better at anything than rested and focused people. I like to be busy each day. I want to get out and gather my daily portion with strength and determination. But each day, I want to avoid the extreme. No more pushing past the limit.
Moderation- it might not become the latest trend, but it certainly does have a sustainable ring to it.