Do you ever fall into the trap, like I do, of feeling you must use something just because you have it? Last year I received some lovely scrapbooking supplies for my baby shower, and those supplies sat unused in a drawer for the first eight months of Sam’s life, taunting me, making me feel like a bad mother…until his ninth month, when I counted the cost of what scrapbooking would mean to my already busy life.
Already I was having trouble fitting into my day the things I loved (apart from Sam), and some things I didn’t really love, but really needed to do. I was not finding regular time to blog, read, or keep up with friends. I could not always find time to make healthy meals for my family. And I had committed to an exercise program that required just twenty-five minutes a day—but after completing the day’s demands, sometimes I literally could not find the time (or energy) to keep that commitment to my health. I realized again a lesson my people-pleasing personality needs over and over: I can’t do it all, at least not all at the same time; in life, I have to choose.
Happily, just as I was trying to decide what to do with my scrapbooking supplies, I read Lysa Terkeurst’s book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands—and I knew what to do. The thesis of the book is that God has “best yeses” for us, or things we are definitely meant to do in life; but we have to be intentional about our decisions, always checking them against God’s word and spiritual discernment, or we will trade our best yeses for things we are not meant to do. The two most important words we can wield, says Terkeurst, are “yes” and “no.” She helps readers determine when to say no. She helped me decide that scrapbooking, for me, was a “no.”
Along with Terkeurst’s wisdom, here are some questions I asked myself to determine whether something really deserves my time–along with how I applied it to my scrapbooking dilemma:
- Will this thing matter in the end to others who matter to me? I decided it was important to preserve some pictures of Sam and some milestones and thoughts, but it didn’t really matter how. In other words, keeping a baby book and a regular photo album is just as good as keeping a scrapbook. Sam will feel loved from these simpler memory makers, so why not go easy on myself?
- Will this thing matter in the end to me? In ten years, twenty years, or even tomorrow, I decided I don’t care if I have a scrapbook sitting on my shelf or not. In fact, I’m trying to de-clutter my home, so why would I add another baby book? It would be nice to have, but it’s just not for me.
- What would I, or could I, do with my time instead? The things I am constantly craving more of right now are reading good books, writing, and time with God and family. These things refresh me, and when I am refreshed, I am a better, more pleasant person.
- Is doing this thing helping fulfill God’s plan for me, detracting from it, or neutral? In the case of scrapbooking (big deal, right?), maybe the answer is neutral. But between the other two choices, I’d say it’s detracting from God’s plans. It would take time away from my real gift, which my hubby recently said (and I agree) is communicating–talking, listening, and writing to others. On a side note, the recent project I’ve been doing for my church is collecting, writing up, and disseminating info on all our ministries/activities–and I have thoroughly enjoyed doing this, and I feel good about it. The accompanying bulletin board my assistant and I have planned excites me far less (huh, bulletin-boarding kind of resembles scrapbooking), so I am thankful for a communications assistant who is enthusiastic about the board.
At the end of the day, the decision to scrap the scrapbooking was a great victory for me. “Redeem the time, for the days are evil,” the Bible says. Deciding not to scrapbook helped me crystallize what’s really important, and what’s really not–and it has helped me to redeem my time. Take the past twenty-five minutes, for instance. I could’ve been scrapbooking, but instead I got to record these thoughts. I feel better already.
What things tempt you to trade your best yeses?
Wise words! It took me a long time to feel comfortable saying “no,” although I was a master at it during my teen years. My problem is that I have a lot of interests and I can be lured into something via one of those. I have to be very careful, too, about how I commit time to friends. When I first quit my fulltime job, my friends thought I was just sitting at home doing nothing, when I was actually establishing my writing routine. I finally told them that I was “at work” just like they were, only not in someone else’s office!
I’ve never been interested in scrapbooking. My mother was, though. I have the scrapbook that she kept on me from birth until I graduated college and began my adult work life. It amazes me how often I pull it out to look something up. For example, I was writing an essay for Classical MPR online, and I couldn’t remember everything on the program of the first professional orchestra concert I attended. I pulled out the scrapbook and found it there. Now I’m glad she assembled the thing, although I thought she was nuts when she was doing it, and I was not wild at the time about sending her mementos of my activities.
Sam will probably be quite fine with the way you’re documenting his life. You need to take good care of yourself in order to take care of those you love.
Cinda, good for you on making writing time a priority! It is hard to make people understand about the writing life, I think. Even more so when treating writing as your job, as you are.
What a nice memento you have from your childhood! Your mom must be an amazing woman. I was only thinking of a scrapbook of the first year…not 18! Wow! It’s a nice thing to have, but not a “have to have.” For those of us who don’t enjoy it, I’m sure glad it’s not a requirement of parenthood!