Since I have been thinking a lot about what the idea Living in Tandem looks like for this series, it seems I see correlations all over the place! Some are more obvious than others, but this correlation might be a stretch for you: your calendar has an impact on Living in Tandem.
As a coach I like to know more about people than what they do for a living. It’s helpful to know how someone spends their time; if they hear themselves frequently saying “can’t, I’m busy”, what’s filling their calendar? A person’s calendar says a lot about their priorities.
The predominant American culture is driven. Calendars are full; over full to the point of producing stress. Parents are recruiting help to shuttle littles to their own over-filled activity list since we still haven’t figured teleportation out yet. (Star Trek, anyone?) This calendar thing is not just a Gen-X or Millenial issue. It didn’t occur because of the tech revolution. The problem with our over-full lives began post- WWII in the “rebuilding” of the American dream. Baby Boomers were the first generation to experience what it means to be a ‘latch key kid’. And because it’s not a recent development, the problem is entrenched in society. So what are we supposed to do?
We have to say No more.
I’ve fought this fight on several fronts so I know how hard it is to say No and mean it. Here are the reasons our calendars tend to fill to the brin:
1) We see others ‘doing a lot’ so we think it’s expected of us too.
2) We are afraid of missing out on something for ourselves or our children’s lives (search #FOMO) It’s a thing.
3) We are afraid of having to face our inner selves if we have too much time on our hands.
4) We’ve got a lot riding on us (other’s expectations) so we perform
I lived under the tyranny of these 4 calendar dictators for more than half my life. When the Hubster and I first married he began asking for something I didn’t know how to provide: whitespace on the calendar. I had no idea how to let go of the things that filled our weekends and evenings. A lot of anxiety welled up in me imagining how I would be letting people down or not doing my share or… And what in the world would we do with an empty calendar one Saturday a month?!!
In 1995, a book was published that we later were introduced to. Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. Now there’s a title! Reading the book was one step. Putting action to what we read took more effort. I began to recognize how the struggles with an over-filled calendar were negatively impacting our marriage and sons. Lack of margin was wearing us all down and that wasn’t going to end well.
I wrestled with my issues found in the 4 reasons above. I’ve had many to wrestle! But in my wrestling I wanted to know God’s thoughts on these issues. I found comfort in this passage:
When I first felt Micah 6:8 resonate in my soul we were singing it in church. The simplicity and love I found there was so gentle. There wasn’t a load dumped on my shoulders. I began to realize ever so slowly that God’s desires for me were for my good not for my performance and over commitment.
Learning to say No was hard but it was good. Just like change. I had to let go of over commitment to say yes to my husband’s need for more whitespace. Living in Tandem is like that. It’s a Good Road to Ride. Giving and receiving.
You might be facing a season of over commitment. Or you may find your life is characterized by over commitment as mine was. You CAN make a little change to take that first step that can lead to another and another until the over committed calendar is tamed. It takes time, but you can do it!