It’s the dreaded error message that has frustrated technology users from the beginning of time (or at least since the days of the floppy disk):
And although we’ve drastically increased our average hard drive size over the years (those old disks wouldn’t even hold one photo now!), we still keep running out of space. From kilobytes to megabytes to gigabytes to terabytes – it seems the more we get, the more we need.
I’ve been particularly annoyed lately – between my now over-a-year-old phone and my iPad (which I share with my photo-happy children), I can’t seem to download anything new without deleting another app (or 157 selfies) first! Which means in order to say “yes” to one thing – I have to say “no” to something else.
Last week I shared about a major turning point in my life – the day in 2012 when I finally committed to getting up early and spending time with God on a daily basis. I had made excuses for many years – especially the one about “not having time”. I now understood that I would never have the time if I didn’t make the time.
I remember saying to Tim the night before my first official morning: “Well, here we go. Alarm set for 5:30. Every day. This is it.” I hated getting up early, but I knew it had to be done – so I did it.
Nearly every day for many months I was up before 6:00. I studied the Bible, journaled, and prayed. After just a few weeks, I was hooked and couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on all those years! I felt a deeper connection with Jesus than I had felt for a long time, and I knew He was clearly speaking to me through His Word.
I had finally said “yes” to God, and it was changing my life!
Unfortunately, just like my phone has a space capacity, so does my life. Adding something to my day meant that something else was going to have to go. And as a busy, part-time working mother of three, I said “no” to the only thing I could justify – sleep.
As a youth leader, I worked late two nights a week. And if I wasn’t at work, that time after getting my kids to bed was my only time to get actual ‘work’ done. Not to mention the laundry. And the paperwork and projects and email. And soon it was 11… 11:30… 12:15…
By the following summer I was melting down into a sleep-deprived emotional wreck and my family was feeling the effects. The error messages were everywhere: “WARNING! WARNING! Insufficient space!” I was attempting to squeeze it all in – and what was being squeezed out in the process was apparently a necessary element in my ability to function properly (or at least politely) as a human being.
If you’ve ever had a computer, phone, or other device that was low on storage you know that getting anywhere near that “0 MB remaining” line doesn’t just mean you can’t add more stuff – it means your doomed to random crashes, slow processing, and loads of other malfunctions. And freeing up only enough space to fit that new download may work – for a few minutes – but pretty soon you’ll be right back there looking for something else to delete. In most cases, there’s some major cleaning out that needs to be done!
After realizing the source of my malfunction, the next year became a time of reorganizing and reprioritizing. Sleep was restored and it was clear that some other stuff had to be dragged to the trash can.
First, I uninstalled “Supermom”. I said goodbye to thinking I would ever get it together to be ‘that mom’ I always thought I would be. I said goodbye to the pressure to pay every waking moment of my attention to my children and goodbye to the pressure to Pinterest-perfectly shape their lives and their well-being. I said goodbye to volunteering in the school, goodbye to arranging regular playdates, and goodbye to the preschool pick-up line comparison game.
Next came “Awesome Youth Leader”. Ministry, like many jobs that involve working with people, is a 24-7 gig and there’s really no such thing as ‘part-time’. There’s so much more I could be doing and even if I worked ‘full-time’ I would barely scratch the surface! So I said goodbye to the guilt and the perceived expectations – and started making ‘part-time’ more of a reality than a paycheck.
Also uninstalled were “Exceptional Wife,” “Marathon Runner,” and “Anything-to-do-with-having-a-clean-and-organized-house” (oh wait, I’m not sure that one was ever downloaded in the first place ;))
There are many nights where the temptation to re-download is real. Many nights where I get everyone off to bed and think, “I could do it. I could just pull out that project or get on my computer or get that massive pile of laundry put away. It would only take a couple hours, right?” There are many nights when I give in – and truthfully, it never ends well!
It turns out that the whole thing wasn’t as much about getting up early as it was saying “no” to my self and my pride and going to bed early. When it comes to the limited amount of space I have in my life, John the Baptist said it perfectly: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
In order to say this “yes” to God, I’ve had to say “no” to many other good things. “Making” this time for Him was not a matter of manufacturing a few more gigs to plug in to my day, but more of a matter of choosing Him (and my sanity) over a whole lot of stuff that wasn’t as necessary as I originally thought.
And as much as I’d love to come up with the perfect line to end this, it’s 10:30pm – so I think I’ll uninstall “Spectacular Blog Writer” and get myself to bed.
“Cause all I know is
Everything I have means nothing
Jesus if You’re not my one thing
Everything I need right now”
(Hillsong, “One Thing”)