I’ve always been a reader. As a little tot, my mom instilled a love of books in me. She read books like Bedtime for Francis by Russell Hoban and The Most Wonderful School by May Justus, which I can still recite word for word to this day. Growing up I fell in love with the Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables books. As a teen, I got into David Baldacci and John Grisham. I always had a least 4 books on my bedside table waiting to be read.
As a young Christian in my twenties, I read challenging books by Francis Chan and David Platt. I loved growing, learning and being changed.
But, somewhere along the way, I let life get in the way and my book reading time fell by the wayside. Instead of curling up into bed at the end of the day to read for an hour, or two or three, I got into bed and crashed. This was especially evident in 2016, as my business grew and my exhaustion skyrocketed. How many books did I actually read in 2016? I think two, maybe.
I knew something was missing in my life. Well, honestly, there were a lot of things missing from my life in 2016. I was unorganized, run down and my relationships with those dear to me were suffering. I was fulfilled in my business and busy, but I had no balance and was spiritually and emotionally drained.
As I looked ahead for my goals for 2017, I knew reading had to become a priority again. As I set a schedule for my business, setting aside plenty of time for family and fun, I also scheduled in time to read. Most days, during nap time, I set aside at least an hour to read. At night, I try to turn in by 10:30 and read for 30 minutes before turning off the lights.
I began the year with a book that I honestly wasn’t sure about. Two of my photographer friends wanted to read a book a month together and then get together to discuss it. As we tried to decide what to start with, Kara suggested The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst. I’d heard of Lysa and this book. I even had the study guide at one point, but I wasn’t sure this was a great book for us to be reading as businesswomen, as creative entrepreneurs. But, there was also a stirring in my heart that longed for something that would help me keep God at the center of my life and business this year, so I ordered the book and dug in.
To say that this book resonated deep inside my soul is the most true thing I’ve typed in a long time. As I read Lysa’s words about her own struggles with an overwhelmed schedule and underwhelmed soul, I just sat and wept. If someone was outside my bedroom door as I was reading, they would have thought I was watching My Sister’s Keeper or This is Us.
This paragraph on page 3 of her book was enough to make me want to change my life, to allow God to lead my decisions, my schedule, my time and my family.
“I struggle with decisions, too. I don’t want to miss out on opportunities, mess up relationships by disappointing people, or misstep right out of God’s will. I struggle with keeping some sense of balance in my life. I struggle with worrying about what others think of my decisions. I struggle with wondering if my inability to do it all will make my kids wind up on a therapist’s couch one day. I struggle with feeling like I can’t quite figure out how other women seem to do it all. I struggle with feeling like I’m going to let God down. Descriptions ping in my head: I’m tired. I’m distracted. I’m disappointed in myself. I feel slightly used and more than slightly used up. I’m a little overwhelmed and a lot worn down”
Oh, you too? I think I spent the majority of 2016 in that place. It’s not a fun place to be, but it’s so hard to see a way out. We want our kids to be well-rounded, our friends to be impressed, our clients to be happy. We fit in every activity, every last minute client, and take our kids to countless doctors’ appointments. And, slowly, without even noticing, our laughs become fewer, our tears become frequent and our sighs become louder. We miss out on hearing God’s voice, because our lives are so filled with things that don’t really matter. But, God! Oh, how easily we forget that God will never leave us or forsake. He’s in control and hasn’t commanded us to be all these things to everybody we are trying so hard to please.
Lisa is so raw and honest in this book about her own struggles. I love how she makes us feel right along with her, but gives us such a beautiful hope in the promises of Scripture to let us know we are not alone and that change is possible, and vital. I love how she gives us a really clear process to go through when we are trying to make decisions. She reminds us that God doesn’t expect us to say yes to every demand on our time! In fact, saying yes can take that job away from the one it was intended for in the first place. Saying yes out of obligation is not loving at all. It’s not loving to those you feel obligated to serve, it’s not loving to the person the job was intended for, and it’s certainly not loving to the people in your life that you are neglecting because you’ve said yes too many times!
Is this resonating with you, too? I think this problem is pretty common with moms, women and small business owners for sure. For those of us that are all of those things and more, for those of us longing for something more meaningful and enjoyable in life, a life more connected to the God who loves you, this book is for you. Read it, soak it in, and then pass it along to your exhausted, worn out friend.