The other day I was talking with someone I trust and admire about how stressed I am in this current life stage and, in the new season of my life. I began by explaining how my schedule has changed, causing me to feel like I’m spinning out of control and why my anxiety has also increased.
She listened, offered, then politely suggested how it sounds like I have idolized a schedule. Her words hit me like a ton of bricks.
I had not realized I was relying on planning and organization, more than I was relying on and trusting God. Not once did it register to me I was prioritizing my routine, making God my second. I always thought of idolization as forgoing and denying God and replacing Him with something else such as an object or idea.
While I was still meeting God and following His word, I was also forgetting to bring Him into every single aspect of my life. You see, idolization is not always an extreme. It can be something such as becoming overly dependant on a schedule and justifying it as an “anxiety management tool” or “coping skill”.
While scheduling does decrease anxiety and can allow us to feel proud and accomplished, we need to ultimately remember God is the one in control. God is the one who will decrease our anxiety. God is the one we need to turn to during the good, the bad and everything in between.
I never want to be the person who replaces God with someone or something else
I want to strive to put Him first in my life. To do this, I need to become more self-aware and not afraid to convict myself when my words or actions are not reflecting on the Bible and His way. We can easily be consumed by the world around us.
Everywhere we turn there is advertisement, social media, entertainment, work, meetings, etc. – something is always trying to grab our attention and we as Christ followers need to be even more mindful to tune the world out and tune into the Lord.
We should not be forming, relying or conforming to an identity from the plans we make and what fits into our schedule. Before you toss out your planner and say “adios” to planning, here are a few signs you can watch out for and course correct if you find yourself falling into one of these traps. It is perfectly okay to schedule your day/ week.
It is perfectly okay to find stability in structure. However, it is not okay to become dependant on it and for our moods to fluctuate when something does not adhere to our said schedule.
1. Stress, Anxiety, and Fear
These three emotions tell us we are not prioritizing God as we should be. Don’t get me wrong, we might feel stressed from time to time, but if we take the time to slow down, tune into God, read His word and actively live out a Christ-like life, we should feel all around calmer and less stressed, anxious and fearful.
When we are one with Christ, the negativity is silenced and we can tune out the “icky” emotions more because we are able to recognize the lie that they are stemmed from. The world tells us if we don’t stick to this schedule, our day will be awful.
If we don’t wake up early, eat a healthy breakfast, go to the gym, go to work, meet a friend for coffee, take the extra class, put in overtime hours, etc. that we are not good enough and we are failures, less successful, and we are not going to improve or advance in life. All of that is a lie. While it is important to prioritize self-care, career advancement, and community, it is equally important to prioritize God.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.”
It’s perfectly okay to skip the gym and not let work rule our lives. God has a plan for each and every one of us. He knows you want to advance in your career and has already laid out the foundation for you to live your dream and bring your dream to life.
2. Living In The “What’s Next” Mentality
I am guilty of this one. I find myself thinking if I do ‘abc’ I’ll be prepared for ‘xyz’. If I move this meeting here and work out at this time, then set time aside to submit more articles I will ultimately be closer to achieving this goal and that goal. Scheduling time to achieve goals is fabulous but can easily distract from being present and living for today.
By planning for tomorrow and going through our schedule as we do daily or weekly, we can easily forget to thank God for the blessings of today and the beauty He has created in our lives. We can become distracted by our scheduled ‘to-do’ list where we miss out on new opportunities, adventures, and blessings. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be too busy following my schedule that I am distracted from my day.
3. Loss Of Connection
When we are going through the motions, focusing on a task and then the task to follow, we miss out on the opportunity for organic connections and relational growth.
We need to allow ourselves to breathe and take a detour from our jam-packed days. Instead of rushing to get to meetings or home from work/ school, let’s take a moment to thank God for the thing we have completed or are in the process of completing.
If we stop thinking “after this”, we are opening ourselves up to the here and now. We don’t want to have blinders on. Being more flexible with scheduling opens us up to the opportunity of meeting new people and being there for those in our life. If we’re too busy with ourselves, we lose our ability to foster relationships with others.
4. Mistaken Identity
When I was a kid I used to think the busier someone is the more important they are. I thought if someone has a lot of meetings or paperwork, they were more successful than others. This is not the case.
Busy doesn’t equivalate importance.
Busy equals focusing more on our worldly tasks versus the tasks God calls us to do: love others and spread His word. Having a tight schedule and following that ‘to a t’ means we have less time to hear from God. I admit, sometimes I do feel important the busier my day is- but those are the days I feel anxious and more distant from God.
I don’t want to look at my calendar more than my Bible in one day. I don’t want to be the person who feels relief when I move my schedule around. I want to find relief for whatever “it” is in life with God, not a form of organization and control. Friends, I want to encourage you today to slow down.
To let go of the control- become more flexible with your schedule and veer from it. We can not turn to our calendars more than we do our God. We can not be too busy to hear from Him. Trust that God is in control and will help you achieve both your personal and career-oriented goals.