Letters from Therese
You DO Have Enough! 1
Hey! How was your week? I thought Minnesota was hot… until I went to Mississippi this past weekend. My sweet grandma (Mamaw to me, Jackie or Jacqueline to most) is 91 and is originally from the south so we decided if the little lady was up to it I was going to get her in the car and make it down to MS for one last family reunion. I was definitely wondering after the long ride for her on Friday and a tough Saturday if I did the right thing, but she was her usual self by Sunday and enjoyed seeing family she hasn’t seen in many years. Monday’s ride home was a pretty good one for her. In case you don’t know, my husband and I are famous for road trips! Do you like a good road trip or are you more of a get on the plane and get there kind of traveler?
Yesterday I got back in my studio and started to feel a bit overwhelmed when I started making a list and it kept growing…and growing…and growing. It seriously felt a mile long and a bit overwhelming. Do you ever have to remind yourself that you will NEVER have it ALL done? I sure do. But, dang! This list was getting really looonnnngggg! I wouldn’t consider myself a stressed out person. I think I handle most things in stride pretty well, but sometimes I realize that I forget to exhale completely. Can you relate? Have you seen the breathing exercises you can do online? They say they are quite good for overall health and mental clarity. I do them and you can get a little “rush” but feel so alert afterwards.
Okay, now that I’ve gone this far you have to try it! Take a breath in your nose to the count of 3 seconds and then exhale forcefully out your mouth for 7 seconds. Do that 3 times and tell me how you feel. Kind of a “rush” feeling, right? Search even more breathing techniques if you need to shake off a little stress or clear your mind and have a little mental reset. (And that was one of my famous rabbit trails!)
Back to this never ending list. So first, I find it quite calming to put stuff on a list. I was telling my mom last week that a long time ago I realized that I can over think things and feel overwhelmed until I make a list. Without a list, things seems to keep rolling around in my head. It consumes more mental space and time than the task will actually take when the time comes to do it. When I make a list I can see really how many items are on the list, estimate how much time it will take to do it, mark the deadline, start prioritizing, and then start checking those babies off! Isn’t there something satisfying about checking tasks off and physically seeing that crossed off item? Are you a list maker? If you are, I’d love to know how you do your list. Is it all on your phone, an excel spreadsheet, or post-its? I use to think I was great making lists on my post-it notes until they were all over the place and seriously out of control. Now I use them for planning and making a grid. (I’m really not OCD about this, but it comes in handy on some projects.) So seriously, tell me how you manage your lists and keep from overwhelm. I’d love to know.
My letter to you today isn’t just about list and managing them, though that is important. But I realized something important a long time ago that I wish there were a reminder that would flash through my thoughts about every hour or so. My revelation was that God created the day and gave me plenty of time to do everything in that day that I am supposed to do. (Read that again. We have been given enough time to do everything we are supposed to do.) Isn’t it hard to remember that though? The president of the US, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, my favorite pastors, Tony Robins, and the list goes on. We all have one thing in common. The gift of the DAY and our days are all the same length and they all have opportunities for each person no matter who you are.
I love that we all have enough time to do what we are supposed to do but this hit me in an even more granular way when a sweet friend of mine passed away way to soon many years ago. Our boys were only months apart and they were 9 at the time when she passed. There were a few things about her life that made me realize a few things about mine. I hope you don’t mind if I share it with you. I hope you will find a nugget or two that is valuable for you.
My sweet friend, let’s call her Taylor, had quite a challenging life growing up. She suffered everything from rape, family drug abuse, and later was an addict herself. That is the incredibly short version. That wasn’t the ending though. She was able to turn things around, understand how valuable she was and how much God loved her. I met her during this time when we were both pregnant with our boys (who are now 26). She was funny, loved to give the most amazing hugs and was often the life of the party. She LOVED people to such an extreme extent and beyond the way I’ve seen most others love others. The one thing I noticed though is that she was always running to DO anything for everyone she could. I don’t know that I ever heard her say “no” to anyone. She seriously wanted to save the world. Sometimes I would see her husband just raise his eyebrows a bit…but he loved her and knew that she would often need to run off to help someone. She was still on this earth though when I realized “having enough time to do everything you’re supposed to do”.
I don’t mean to put my friend down at all. She had had such a tough life that she was determined to help everyone who needed it and did it with the greatest intention. What I DID realize is that there is so much to that sentence when you break it down. “God has given you enough time to do everything He has called you to do.” Is exactly how I play it in my head. First, He gave us all the same length day. Second, He has things for me to do and knows the exact length of the day. He didn’t over pack it! Now, that doesn’t mean that some projects won’t flow into days, months, or years.
The second part of that hits me the strongest. It’s doing what He gave me to do. My friend Taylor was running around saving the world sometimes at the expense of her family. I realized that there are many good and noble things to do. I use to have a hard time saying “no” to things. Can you relate to that one? But now I think about a few things before I decide what I am going to do. First, is it on my “purpose” or is it a distraction? Second, it could be a great and wonderful thing that needs to be done but am “I” the one that is supposed to do it? What I never realized before is that if God intended someone else to do it, but I see that it is a good thing to do and don’t say “no” then I am actually in the way of the person He has intended to do it. When I am doing something that He planned for someone else to do, then I am also NOT doing what I AM supposed to be doing. And when I am doing something I am NOT supposed to be doing, no matter how good it is, then I am not in my place doing what I should be doing and now I might not have enough time to get all my stuff done. Ask me how I know! Do you fall more in the ditch of never saying no or always saying no?
I have gone so much longer with this letter than I intended, but I hope you took away that it’s ok to say “no” if you know it’s not what you’re supposed to do. If you do it just because it’s a helpful thing then you could be in the way of the person who is supposed to help with that and the reason WHY they are supposed to do it. And last, then you are not where you are truly supposed to be doing what you are truly supposed to be doing.
If we were talking in person today, I bet we could have a conversation that could go on for hours about this but I must end. I’m grateful if you’ve decided to read this all and I hope you will write back with some of your tips and some of what you took away. I hope to hear from you soon!
So much love to you,
You can always leave a comment or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org
PC: Photo by Katie Harp