Oct 9, 2009Family Uncaged, Find joy today

I’ve been thinking a lot in my little bits of spare time about circles. God places people around us in varying ways. I particularly am fond of this verse: “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired” (1 Corinthians 12:18). I love that He’s placed me in my church, with my group of friends, within our Life Group (Sunday School class), in the circle of my family, in the boundary of our town. That’s His beautiful doing, His way of creating circles.

But I’m a little overwhelmed by what seems to be a proliferation of circles in my life. The Internet, in all its prowess to market my books (see this for a powerful example), is expanding me beyond that stretchable mom on The Incredibles. Unlike her, I fear I could snap, not bend back.

Here’s how I see my circles:

  • Me and Jesus
  • My marriage
  • My three children
  • Church
  • My extended family
  • Our Life Group and friends related to it (30+)
  • Our circle of local friends
  • Our circle of national and international friends
  • My leadership role as the owner of The Writers View (1500+ folks)
  • My web presence (blogs, facebook, twitter, website) This one’s hard to measure (probably 8,000 folks, but I don’t interact one on one).
  • My local writer’s group (15-20 people)
  • Other affiliations and groups (represents hundreds of folks)
  • My leadership role at The Writing Spa (mentoring clients)
  • Those I mentor as God leads (writing)
  • Life Sentence, my critique group (me + 2)
  • The Discipleship Group of Junior girls (7)
  • Teaching 6th grade girls (20+)
  • My home circle (represents no people, but some animals and a house that begs to be cleaned)
  • Speaking ministry (hard to measure, but sometimes my speaking results in new relationships).

I don’t list these circles to brag or show how important I am. I’m keenly aware of upside down principles of Jesus’ kingdom. The first will be last. The most important will follow the least important. I share them to illustrate my own frustration, worry, and feeling of deep humility. Why would God entrust this to me? I am so small. And I often don’t know how to balance all these circles. They intersect. They clamor for attention.

I’m reminded of the beauty of Dr. Richard Swenson’s words in his excellent book Margin. He talks about Jesus who focused on His Father, and then did what He saw His Father doing. He didn’t carry a Daytimer. He didn’t look beyond folks who had needs, trying to strain his neck for the next person. He concentrated on the person in front of him, gave the person His eyes.

I fear I let the circles distract me from people.

And sometimes, although it’s hard to admit, I feel drained by the needs of so many. I simply can’t help everyone. I can’t fill others when I’m limping along in exhaustion.

I do understand how important it is to understand calling. I am called to be a good wife, an excellent, loving parent, an attentive friend. I am called to write. Of course, I’m called to love Jesus passionately. But beyond that, what?

There’s a sad parable I heard once about a starving baker. He spent so much time baking bread for his village that he’d wake up earlier and earlier to make bread. He gave it freely to so many, more and more each day. And yet the villagers noticed something peculiar. The baker’s clothes hung on his emaciated frame. The one who made fat the village was himself starving.

I don’t want to become a starving baker. I’m guessing you don’t want to either. Here’s where you come in. Advise me.

  • What would you do?
  • What do you do to create boundaries?
  • How do you order your life to get proper nourishment?
  • How do you see your circles?
  • Do you get overwhelmed?
  • What has helped?

Thank you for reading this long post. I appreciate it. And I await God’s wisdom through you.