“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” – John 15:2-6 (ESV)
Hi. My name is Brit – and I’m an “overcommitmentaholic.”
It’s the most logical explanation, and I say it without a hint of sarcasm. Time and again, I find myself back in the same dreaded place – with more to do than hours in the day, week or month. Overwhelmed and running dry, I cringe as I fall back into old patterns of angst and despair as I desperately cling to a sense of control I never really had in the first place.
Problem is, I’m a fixer. When an issue is presented, I feel a personal responsibility to solve it. I’m so uncomfortable with the dissonance of the unresolved, I take on things I have NO business touching.
I love being the one people rely on to save the day. And sadly, I misplace my identity in my ability to please people. Even when my intentions are noble, heartfelt and enthusiastic, I make commitments I shouldn’t. Commitments I’m not called to. Commitments I struggle to keep faithfully.
Why do I do this? FEAR.
Fear of man. (Not “men” specifically, but mankind.) “What will people think of me if I say no?” In my work, family, friendship and faith circles, opportunities, needs and cries for help are vast – and often, saying “no” seems worse than just agreeing to take something on.
Fear of chaos. “If I don’t fix this mess, nobody will. I have to save it.” I experience intense dissonance when things aren’t working in perfect harmony. At my best, I take joy in simplifying complexity and mending brokenness. And at my worst, I strive to keep things on life support that are probably meant to die anyway.
Fear of God. “It’s such an important ministry – I just have to be a part of it!” I so fear missing out on an opportunity to let God’s Kingdom come in and through me that I seldom stop to ask Him if He even wants me to commit in the first place before going all-in.
My schedule is packed — and many of my existing commitments aren’t bearing fruit in my life or in the lives of others. They fall into three categories:
- Misdirection: Things I’ve irrationally said “yes” to that I now want – or even need – freedom from.
- Desperation: Things I still desperately still cling to, even when God is calling me in a new direction.
- Obligation: Things that I’ve just always done. People expect me to show up, just because I’m… well, me.
I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions – surprising since I’m prone to overcommitment. But one thing is for sure – 2015 will be a year of intense pruning for me. And although John 15: 2-6 assures me I’m not alone in this and implores me to trust God’s pruning hands, I admit I am not looking forward to it.
A clearer schedule and a renewed sense of priority will undoubtedly be life-giving. But the process of getting there may be painful. Re-calibrating my life to a healthier level will inevitably disappoint people I care about – people who want and need my time.
It feels like death to surrender control and admit I can’t find a way to do everything, please everyone, and save the day in every case. But admitting that I can’t is the first step toward recovery – toward finding what I’m really meant to be doing in the first place.
I’m taking the first step — admitting my life is out of control. And because I clearly can’t fix it on my own, I’m leaning on God to help me prioritize and prune my gnarly rose bush of a life.
I have two criteria to shape this effort:
1. If it’s not bearing fruit, I have to let it go.
2. If I’m not called to it, I have to say “no.”
So here’s to a time of strategic and prayerful pruning – wherever God wants it.