This summer has been an interesting one of transition for me personally. Last year I began to ask the Lord for a part-time job of sorts, something that would be flexible but would provide some additional funds for this season with our children (our middle schooler is quite expensive right now!) and also help our ministry fund Sanctuary in an even more efficient way in preparation for continual growth. If you happen to think that, as a stay-at-home mom to two children who are in school all day and a husband who travels full-time, I had loads of free time floating around and was having to fight the urge to sit and watch talk shows all day, you would be (sadly) mistaken. No, I've managed our ministry office from our home for 19 years (& counting), and also was balancing this brand new ministry called Sanctuary. Speaking engagements were on the calendar for 2017. A book was begging to be written from my heart and mind that seems to always be on the go. Life was already busy.
But I did feel that God could supply me something I could do, even in the limited time I had to spare. What's ironic to me (I don't know why this is still ironic to me...) is that God answered my prayer, but not in the way I suspected. By the close of the year 2016, I was mulling over the job offer presented to me by our local pastor to be his part-time admin.
Regardless, I felt it was the Lord's direction for me to go. To spare you the journey of the months since, it's been a fantastic learning curve for me, in so many ways. As I crossed into the land o' the 40s last year, a challenge was probably warranted. But the venture into working for another boss--not myself--and having to be away from my kids for many of their summer days was something I did not allow myself to consider when I said "yes".
Where are you going with all this, Bridgette?
I'm busier than I've ever been. I was practically forced into the world of online groceries (To God be the glory!). My house is less than ideally, perfectly clean. My bath towels (gasp!) are being folded and put away by 7-and-12-year-old girls, which, may I add do not fold them as I prefer, but rather cram them into the cabinets. And my greeting card-sending has come to a screeching halt.
Busy. It's almost like a dirty word to me these days.
Sure, I enjoy the work and my girls are still stable, happy, loving young ladies. So far, I'm faking success in most areas and it seems to be working. But I certainly crave a few moments to myself now and again. And a date night sounds like heaven right about now. (Isn't it time for school to start yet?!)
But I don't want to be too busy. Recently, on my "day off" (I giggle, even typing those words), I drove myself and our daughters to the Oklahoma City area for a swim date with some family we haven't seen in awhile. With the girls immersed in their movie in the back seat, I began to relish the two hours of nothing each direction on the road trip. I started thinking through, "who can I call right now that I rarely get a chance to talk to these days?"
For one reason or another, the names were gently checked off the list as I began to think of the conflict they might have in taking the time to speak with me on the phone. A handful of friends I dialed and got their voicemail. But pretty much all of those in my mental directory were dismissed because I sensed, "nah, they're too busy right now."
Do you find that when you're talking to some people these days that you're on a meter of time? That you need to handle the call like a parking meter, hearing that silent clicking of time wasting away, hoping you can get what you're feeling or thinking or needing from them said quickly enough before the meter runs out? We are too busy.
I often wonder if we will ever escape the vicious cycle of life and busyness we have, as a culture and society, created. It is not as though people in decades past did not have plenty to do. They worked hard. Hey, even Jesus was a very busy fellow. He was on the move daily. But he had time to stop and connect with the people. He heard their hearts. He healed their bodies. He fed them physically, spiritually, and mentally. He stopped.
Whatever it takes, I have this drive to make people in my life feel heard. I want you to
know "I hear you". When we visit or see one another, you have my attention. When you call, I will take it, if at all possible. If I can't take it, I will call you back. Yes, I am busy. But you, you are invaluable. What if we approached people as the most valuable commodity? If we are to follow Christ's example, we will have to shake off the norm of our culture and connect with the people right in front of us. We will have to contact people when He lays them on our hearts and minds.
How do we break busy to build people? Sheer determination. Due to some research on the habit-forming process of humanity, I found that it takes 66 days to break a bad habit and replace it with a new one. But what do those steps look like? I stumbled upon a blog written by a student of human behavior and psychology. He suggested there are three R's to the habit-forming process. How would those apply to us busy girls in this rat race called 'life in the ministry'? Here's an example:
Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)
A friend approaches you in person or calls you over the phone.
Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take)
You determine to speak only to her with as few distractions as possible. You purposefully do not scroll social media while on speaker phone or check your text messages as they 'ding' during your visit.
Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior)
Your friend feels valued, benefits from your life's experience and wisdom, and she learns she can call you when she needs a friend...and you learn you could do the same with her when the time comes.
Habits of humanity. I'm determined to be more purposeful in breaking out of busy to be available. How about you?
Let's redefine Sanctuary.
Bridgette Tomlin, founder of Sanctuary, and her husband, Chresten, have been married for 19 years and have been in the ministry together for every single one of those years! (whew!) 18 of the 19 years have been spent in full-time evangelistic work, both stateside and overseas. They have two beautiful blonde babies--ages 12 and 7--and base out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Like many ministry wives she often feels like the red flag on the tug-of-war rope with the children on one end and her husband and the ministry on the other end! When she finds time for personal hobbies, Bridgette enjoys entertaining, blogging, singing, browsing the local antique shops, and sipping on a cup of hot tea for a few precious quiet moments. Her heart is to lead others to the authentic presence of God--through worship, through Word, and through one-on-one connection.