My Shiny New Hamster Wheel

I am so excited! Today is the day. I got up early, woke the kids too!  One is packing up in the car and the other 2 are complaining but I am not going to let that shake me today. Kill them with kindness, I tell myself. They won’t get to see screaming mommy this morning! I have made breakfast, gotten the pig all settled (sadly, something that is necessary to do) and emptied the dishwasher. Teeth are brushed and garbage is taken out. We are ahead of the game today! Today is a big day! Today, I am getting a BRAND NEW HAMPSTER WHEEL!

Courtney Joseph has been one of my favorite writer/bloggers for a while now. She organized the group ‘Loving God Greatly’ (which used to be ‘Good Morning Girls’). She was the first person to introduce me to the SOAP method of bible study and one of the most widely used color coding/highlighting systems for bible study. She also wrote a book a while ago that is called ‘Women Living Well.’ As a northerner, I am proud to say, we aren’t passive people. (Yes sometimes it’s too much but you can be too passive too!) I stand up for what I believe in no matter how big or small. My heart aches for the underdog and I am quick to defend someone who can’t defend themselves. We need proof of everything and be prepared for us to always push back. (We will get back to the proof thing later) Women Living Well was the first book that opened my eyes to the idea that maybe men and women DID have different roles. It made me think that maybe we CAN’T do all of the things that the opposite sex can do. Maybe we are supposed to “obey our husbands.”  Hold on now, don’t get all crazy on me. I’m not talking about in a Warren Jeffs kind of way.  Her book showed me how to be ok with the things that make me uncomfortable in the bible.(women being the caretakers/housekeepers) How to accept the things I wanted to push back on. (Submitting to your husband). Since then I have been an avid follower of Courtney Joseph’s work.

Currently, I am working through her very first actual published bible study workbook (vs online studies that weren’t as in depth). It’s amazing. I have loved every page so far (I’m on week 2 day 1). She is having us walk through Ecclesiastes. Today’s topic was on how everything goes in cycles and what we do when we get to the point where we feel “bored.” Now you may have just snarled at me and thought, “I wish I had time to get bored!” But trust me when I say this, friend, you do.

How often do we look to our own schedules and feel like they aren’t full enough? Women seem to think yay being busy = finding meaning. Which is crazy because when we are busy we feel like nothing we do is done the right way or done completely. How can we have true meaning through something we think we could have done better at if we could just do it again?

She says,” So we chase after education, money, fame, relationships, or the next party and end up still on the road to emptiness .” 

Have you ever experienced that? Do you ever find yourself still with a crazy busy schedule, yet feeling like maybe God is calling you to go back to school, start a new home business, take on more responsibility somewhere? Like it’s time throw out the hamster wheel you are currently on and upgrade to the new model? It happens to me that’s for sure! Always at the worst times too!  It makes no sense. Why would God be calling you to put one more thing on the pile of chaos that you have amassed? God doesn’t promote that kind of life. He doesn’t want us to do things out of obligation. How could we bring any glory to Him if our actions are incomplete or slide in just making the deadline? It’s a myth. All of it is a myth.

Not all that long ago, I came to a realization about myself. Something that I honestly think I denied for a long time. When it came to our families schedule, I found myself trying to “keep up with the Joneses.” Now I am not that kind of person. I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing because that means that a lot of people will be there and I am not a big fan of giant crowds. They make me tired and frankly, they make me feel small. (Because I am….) I don’t feel a sense of euphoria if a room full of people. I think that’s why I used to enjoy drinking with my friends (back in college and even a little of the post-college phase.) I never wanted to be left out of something but at the same time, I couldn’t relax and feel comfortable in a room that was wall-to-wall people and beer pong cups. I didn’t want to miss out on the hanging out part, but I was essentially bored and again, thought I needed to find something “to do” to keep myself entertained. Now you are never going to hear me say that I regret those days because I don’t. Sure there are things I would do differently, but the experience alone is reason enough to be happy it happened. Because of my walk through the world my first 25 years, Jesus is just so much more real to me now. I thank God for the experience. regardless, I felt a lull in my life and that needed to be filled it with activity.

How much of your week so far has been full of starting something new, going somewhere, speaking to someone, adding another thing to your schedule, just because you feel uncomfortable in the silence. You watch your friends whiz around to work, dance, small group, baseball games, dinner with friends, & whatever else they can jam in, and you feel like you should be busy too. So you start looking for a new hamster wheel to jump on. One that shines brighter, one that bigger, one that is in line next to all the other hamster wheels. You do this even though, as you sit there and stare at this new contraption, you realize that it’s almost the same as the one you are already on. You stare at it trying to find the differences and think to yourself, “Surely there has to be something I am missing. Everyone else seems to think it’s a must have.” Yet still, you feel something telling you, don’t do it.

What do you do? That pinging feeling of don’t do it won’t go away and you have tried to rationalize it 13 ways from Sunday and you just can’t seem to feel good about any of this justification. I know what I usually do. I usually say to myself, “Just get on it and it will all be fine. You are over analyzing and over-thinking it. Stop being paranoid and just get on it.” Is that what you do too? How does that work out for you? As good as it always does for me? Yea, I thought so. (Sense the sarcasm?). I hate to be the killjoy here but you should have listened to that voice. It knows that you can’t take on anymore. It knows that you aren’t 100% sold on the idea of this new hamster wheel and it’s trying to assure you that there is a reason for that. It’s not too late to listen to it.

For me, as a Christian, that voice is the Holy Spirit. Don’t write me off just yet. I know that sounds, “Jesus-y” but the fact of the matter is, we all think we have something like it living in us. What’s interesting to me, is that we all act as if this “voice” knows the right thing to do all of the time too. Whether we listen to it or not. Some people call it their conscience and I know that I had one of those for most of my life. 90% of the time I CHOSE to not listen to it because it was easy to push it back down and ignore it. It always went away if I could just come up with enough reasons why the feeling I had inside myself, was wrong. Then one day I decided to accept Jesus. I didn’t wake up and understand everything in the bible. I didn’t fully accept everything I read or knew about Jesus either. I just decided to believe in the story He told because it fit in a way that I couldn’t explain.

It took years to finally say with certainty, that I believe the Bible, I believe the story of Jesus coming, living as us, performing miracles and then being crucified. I believe that He rose from the dead and He went to heaven to be with His Father. I think that if you learned about Jesus the way I did, you would too. But that’s neither here nor there right now. (And I do mean right now, you need to hear it, but later…) That voice inside you that is telling you it isn’t a good idea to purchase this bright and shiny new hamster wheel knows something you seem to be ignoring. It knows that this change isn’t necessary. That voice knows that the change isn’t something God is telling you to do or something that will make your life easier. It knows that the wheel you are looking at is exactly the same, someone just washed it, painted it, moved things around. The voice knows that in the end, it will look exactly the same (if not worse!) than the one you are on right now. If it’s the Holy Spirit inside you, then the voice knows it’s not from God.

Busyness does not equal the answer. It doesn’t have the anecdote to our feeling of emptiness. The lack of busyness doesn’t mean we are doing something wrong. That empty feeling you have, probably means you are doing something right. You know that your enemy loves to pray on your thoughts of insecurity in all areas of your life. If you are on the path God wants you to be on, believer or unbeliever, then you will soon find that Satan will rear his ugly head and try to confuse you. Make you doubt your decisions. DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN! Understand that even if you are not a believer, God has a plan for you. You know it, you can feel it. You want to believe it because it gives you purpose. Satan knows it too. You know you believe in him to some extent. You can feel it. There’s a reason for you to suddenly question your choices.

89061acfb9df1621304fd6d33509a32eI leave you with this. Trust your gut, know how to say ‘No’ when it’s needed. Don’t try to keep up with the crowd. Do you, make your decisions and think about the role God plays in all of this for you. I know for me, this type of discernment and reaction became a lot easier as I grew closer to God over the past few years.  I know that I can be sure of that little voice inside me much faster and with much more confidence, than before I knew God.  I know it will not steer me wrong. I will focus on seeking God in all that I do, then I know everything will fall in line!13394103_10157027687395302_1518530432849861891_n

 

So quit adding more things onto your schedule. Stop taking on more projects and committing to more people because it feels like it’s the right thing to do. Don’t allow yourself to buy that unnecessary hamster wheel. You will know when it’s time to buy it. I promise. Trust the voice inside you and know your goals. Use them as a screening board. Run the idea through that screening board and see where it measures up. Be different from the crowd. Teach your kids to do the same. Wait for the next model and then reassess all over again.

As the old saying goes, “more doesn’t USUALLY mean, better.”

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