Feeling overwhelmed with your to-do list? Or perhaps you’ve got so much on your plate you haven’t even had time to put it all down in list form. Every season has its busyness. Whether you’re a student balancing school, family, and a social life, a professional running from the office to home to church activities, or a mom trying to get your kitchen clean, children fed, and make it to an appointment on time, we all know the feeling. Exhausted. Weighed down. Joyless. We’ve all been there. The activities of life snowball to the point that we don’t know what we’re supposed to be doing, and whatever we are doing, we’re not doing well. You know you just can’t do it all anymore.
But you can. At least that’s what the Girl Talkers think. The who? The Girl Talkers. Carolyn Mahaney and her three daughters are better known for their blog, Girl Talk, and have recently written a book to help the overwhelmed, Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and Not Be Overwhelmed. They claim that we can actually do everything that God has called us to do. But that’s the key. Everything that God has called us too. Not all that we pile on ourselves or allow others to tell us we should do. And we can do so with peace and joy.
Using shopping as a metaphor, the Girl Talkers make the point that many of us strategize and plan to be good shoppers: we cut out coupons, wait for sales, and are thrifty users of our hard earned money. However, when it comes to putting in the same time to planning and strategizing over our lives, we often just let life happen instead:
As a result, we often miss out on the best deals life has to offer and end up paying big time in guilt, anxiety, and a lack of confidence that we’re really doing the will of God. More often than not, we’re overwhelmed by life’s choices and demands. Perhaps most unfortunately, we lack fruitfulness in Christ’s kingdom.
So, what do we do? We become shoppers of time. Ephesians 5:15-16 becomes the theme verse of the book, urging us to "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." By wisely making the best use of our time, we experience peace and joy. And so we have to consider, what are the top priorities? Are there things we shouldn’t be doing at this time in our lives?
As women, many of us are prone to saying "yes" to various needs that arrive without really considering if taking on another responsibility is what we’re really "called" to do. Shopping for Time makes the point that we need to know what we’re really supposed to be doing with our lives, so we can say "no to many good opportunities in favor of better ones." Otherwise, we may simply allow ourselves to lead sidetracked lives. I appreciated the fact that they noted that many of the things we can get sidetracked by aren’t "bad." Many, in fact, may be noble pursuits.
It’s often the good things such as a ministry opportunity, a relational pursuit, a money-making venture, a leisure activity, or hobby that hinder us from making the best choices. It’s frequently these good things that distract us from the best things.
And those choices will look different during various seasons of our lives. What is "best" will vary to some degree depending on whether we’re single or married, working or at home, childless or have children.
In order to help us discern the best things, Shopping for Time doesn’t lead women to cookie-cutter legalistic methods, but instead points out ways to get our lives back to the basics of biblical priorities. Priorities that will shape our lives, but when practically applied and implemented will look different from woman to woman, depending on her season of life. Because our seasons are constantly changing, it’s good for us to re-evaluate our priorities from time to time. That’s where the five tips for becoming shoppers of time come in:
- Rise Early
- Sit Still
- Sit and Plan
- Consider People
- Plan to Depend
There is a chapter on each of these five tips that goes in-depth with questions to consider and evaluate our lives by.
In the end, we must remember that it’s our relationship with God that ultimately counts. For those of you like me, who like checking items off of our to-do lists, it was a good reminder that "we should not be more consumed with the completion of our to-do list than pleasing and glorifying the Savior." Meeting with Him first each day will help us navigate how we should and shouldn’t be spending our time. Then we’ll be wise shoppers of time, experiencing peace and joy.