Too Many Good Things

I’m Wendy, one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms. Even though this is my 19th year of homeschooling, I’m still always adjusting my homeschool to make sure it works for my students. (Actually I’m down to homeschooling only one this year!) Many of us take time in January to think about what worked well during the first half of the homeschool year and to adjust what didn’t work.

So I, like many of you, have been considering what I might need to change or do better as we get back to school after the holidays. That brought to mind a quote by Oswald Chambers:

In seeking the Best we soon find that our enemy is our good things, not our bad.  The things that keep us back from God’s best are not sin and imperfection, but the things that are right and good and noble from the natural standpoint… Very few of us debate with the sordid and evil and wrong, but we do debate with the good.

I think for most of us, this quote is very accurate. It’s not that we do bad things that keep us from being our best, being peaceful, having a successful homeschool year, or having clean houses. It can be the good things that keep us from these things! If we stay too busy, if we’re too focused on one area of life to the detriment of other areas, or even if we have a lack of focus altogether, it can turn out to be a bad situation. A stressful situation. These things can definitely cause chaos in our homeschools, our marriages, and our homes.

And worse than that, we assume that all of the other homeschool moms we know–whether in real life or online–have it all together. Right?! We somehow all feel that we’re the only one who’s disorganized. Who has dirty dishes in the sink all. the. time. Who never catches up on the laundry. Who never quite gets all of the school work done with all of the children. But guess what? We can’t all be the only one! That’s right! We’re in this together. Not one of us is perfect.

Nine years ago, we were set to start building our house when our contractor got very sick and couldn’t do the job for us. We desperately tried to find another contractor, but they were all booked up for the next 2 years or more! Because of that, the job of contracting the house fell to me. (Those of you who know me can kindly stop laughing now!!)

It was a tough job for this disorganized gal to try to take care of my children, do a minimum amount of homeschooling, serve as contractor for my house, and keep everyone fed and in clean clothes! From August through December, I was overwhelmed and extremely busy. But I made it! I got the house built, and we moved in just 10 days before Christmas.

After Christmas, we finished unpacking, getting the house in order, and settling down into our new normal routine in our new house. I was so blessed and happy to finally be in the home I’d dreamed of building for 15 years–ever since my husband and I had been married.

But then, for a reason I didn’t understand, I became very depressed. I started having anxiety attacks. I couldn’t sleep and was desperately tired all the time. Instead of being happy in my new home, I was absolutely miserable.

After several months, I finally began to feel like my normal self again. My mind started clearing enough for me to stop and think about why I’d fallen into such a state of depression when things were seemingly going so well. And then it hit me. I’d simply been busy doing too many good things! It was too much for me to take care of three young children (one of whom was severely autistic), run my house, cook and clean, try to be  good wife, be involved in church, and build a house all at the same time. Once the house was built, I finally crashed. It had all been too much.

We moms often try to do it all, and we simply can’t! We let the business of “doing what’s good” get in the way of God’s best for us. As Oswald Chambers stated in the quote above, we are able to avoid doing the things we know we shouldn’t, but we purposely choose to do far too many good things, and that choice does just as much damage! In fact, I learned that lesson first hand! I caused myself months of pain because I was trying to do too many good things.

So what did I do? I forced myself to stop everything and take the entire summer off to rest (as much as a mom can). The children weren’t involved in sports or lessons over the summer. We only participated in homeschool events or outside activities a few times. We simply cleared our schedules of everything–even the good things–and took a much-needed break.

It turned out to be a wonderful summer! It was hard to stop myself from committing to play dates, extra-curricular activities, and even church activities, but looking back, it was the right thing to do for a short time.

So now when I’m tempted to do too much, I stop and think about all those years ago when I did too many good things. I remember that my main jobs right now are loving and caring for my husband and children. My house isn’t always clean, the dishes aren’t always done, and sometimes even school work must be put off until another day.

So the next time you feel stressed and anxious, maybe you too need to stop and ask yourself if you could be doing too many good things and what you might need to cut out–at least for a time. God can show you which things you need to continue doing and which things aren’t as important as you thought. Then you will be in a position to receive God’s best for your family. And that is a good thing!

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