Packing Our Fragile Lives

Gina Butz Uncategorized 2 Comments

Packing Our Fragile Lives

Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

I’m no stranger to packing up and moving homes, so you’d think I would be pretty good at it by now.

Unfortunately, I have a strong streak of impatience and a high commitment to efficiency, so I tend to pack carelessly. This is particularly true in the kitchen because so much is fragile and requires extra work.

I remember packing a box of glasses once to give away. I debated the merits of squeezing them all into one box over padding them well enough that they wouldn’t break in transit (especially because I couldn’t find another box and was too lazy to keep looking. Also, I value efficiency over accuracy).

This is how we can fill our schedules.

When I look at my calendar and see wide open spaces, my instinct is to fill them.

It’s like Pac-Man, trying to level up by gobbling empty slots.

The problem is when I add something new, I don’t always think about the padding it needs to not bump up against other activities.

Here’s an example: Someone asked me once to take on a role that on paper is a 3-hour activity once a month. I thought, “That’s totally doable!” (this is generally my reaction to any prospect).

When I talked it over with a wise friend, though, he pointed out that it wasn’t just 3 hours. Taking on that time meant 6-8 new relationships with people I want to invest in knowing well.

It meant praying for them, probably meeting individually, social activities together, being available to them. When I thought about the amount of space it would really take in my box, I knew it wasn’t going to fit.

It’s not just about the activities we do, but all the bubble wrap time that will go into making that activity succeed. It includes all the prayer, preparation, thinking, and meeting that might surround it.

Most importantly, we have to consider the relational and emotional energy expended on top of the actual time invested. I don’t know about you, but I don’t often have an excess of that kind of energy laying around.

I’ve experienced the side effects of over packing. Things break.

I break.

Bubble Wrapping Our Lives

So I’m trying these days to bubble wrap my activities. Leave space around them to actually think about them.

Space to be fully present in what I choose, to let them bleed a bit outside the lines of the time I allotted for them.

It’s not easy. My ego gets in the way, wanting to prove myself through the busyness of my calendar.

My heart gets in the way too-I want to help. I love saying yes. But if it’s going to cause me to overwork, it’s not my best yes. It’s not the best yes for anyone.

So we need helping packing. Sometimes we need to run it by a friend, as I mentioned earlier, someone with no skin in the game, who can call us out when our hearts and egos run faster than our souls.

And of course, we need God. He knows how fragile we are; He knows He made us from dust. His wisdom will guide us if we’re willing to listen as we pack.

 

Related posts:

Learning to Respect My Limits

Choosing Slow

Finding Balance in the Seasons

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Comments 2

  1. Dear Gina,

    You helped to address a critical issue with your post – I also tend to bite more than I chew. The packing analogy is so apt. I resolve to make bubble-wrapping common practice.

    Thank you.

  2. This is a great post. Loved it. Maybe I loved because it was so close to home. There’s nothing I like more than to say yes, so much so that I tell my team (marketing team at an ed tech company) that they’re not allowed to say NO, only a modified yes. Yep, I’m that dysfunctional.

    But it all came to a head when I had surgery in February. Talk about a lack of understanding margin… I really thought I’d be better by the 4th day (it’s actually taken months to get back to normal) but I gave myself 4 days to recover. 4 days. After completely failing at being normal by the 4th day and actually getting sicker, I finally gave myself over to margin, lots and lots of margin. I said no to everything, absolutely everything. My wonderful wife would ask me to come into the living room and if it didn’t feel right, I’d say no. Weird for me.

    So, yep, loved your post. Great stuff. Thanks for sharing.

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