What is within your control, and thus your responsibility and what is not within your control, and therefore not your responsibility?
My counselor posed this question to me this week. I wasn’t sure what to say. When you are a mom, it feels like everything is your job, and it all hangs on you. My wonderful husband is involved and helpful, but it’s just not his natural inclination to think about whether the kids shoes are getting to small or whether it’s time to bring the next box of handmedowns down from the attic. Whereas on a daily basis my brain spins with all the variables. The kids health, education, and development. The cleanliness and organization (or lack there of) of our home, our finances and future plans. That’s just the daily survival stuff. Then there are the big picture things like my writing endeavors, where will we be as a couple in 5 year, in 10 years. What do we want our post baby/toddler and hopefully survival mode years to look like.
But the truth is, much of this isn’t within my control and it certainly isn’t all on me. Some of it is the nature of this season. Three small children, a house move, etc. But some of it is the lie I’ve bought. Whenever I’m up against yet another task that I don’t really have time to do, I think
“But if I don’t do it, who will?”
Sometimes the answer is no one. It’s not a necessary task. Or maybe it’s just something that has to be delayed. When it comes to ministry and service everyone always assumes that someone else will do the work. Coming from a ministry family I see so often how the few faithful volunteers are run ragged because no one else can spare the time. But I’m also in a season of my life where I’m practicing saying no. (As I told my counselor, I still feel guilty about it, but at least I’m learning to say it). Or really I’m strategically saying yes. That is something I can control and in fact should.
So sometimes the answer to the question is someone else will do it. (And perhaps my unnecessary involvement will prevent someone else from growing.) In some cases that person is my husband who is willing and able and only needs to be brought up to speed on what I need. Maybe it’s delegating more of my ministry responsibilities in order to train up new leaders. Sometimes it’s as simple, yet difficult, as making my kids do things themselves. It may seem easier to do it myself because then it gets done right and I don’t have to argue with them. But then they aren’t learning important life skills. I’ve learned to settled for poorly organized drawers and the frequent complaint of “Mom, I can’t find anything in here.” as part of the process of letting them learn. (We’re still working on the room tidying.)
There is one more category. Perhaps one of hardest ones for me. Where I leave something completely up to God. These are usually the things that it appears as though I may be able to do something about, our finances or my childrens’ behavior. But that I am carrying alone. Trusting God isn’t necessarily a reason to be inactive, but it can be a call to stop our vane striving and believe that God has a plan, even if it doesn’t look like ours. (Anyone else spend too much time obsessing over budgets numbers and worrying how it will all even out?) We can be responsible without allow duties to consume us.
My counselor has pushed me to spend more time being and less time doing. To meditate on who God wants me to be rather than just what he wants me to do. This is perhaps the antithesis of control. It is that call to stop my constant rush and worry, and trust that I can in fact pause, and just be still. He has it under control.