Just Too Busy {A To-Do List Rooted in Fear}

I’ve been away from this space for a few weeks as I’ve settled into a new season of life.  Being a single mom with a full-time job has its challenges, but I am thankful for friends who have helped the three of us settle into a new routine.  Hannah is dancing, Owen is playing tennis, and I am teaching and working with a few ministries, including Women of Purpose.

As I texted with some of the Women of Purpose Creative Team this weekend about our Sunday afternoon meeting, I admitted to struggling with “time.”  Time to catch up with laundry and compose lesson plans.  Time to rest and listen to my kiddos talk about their weeks.  Just time to…{insert so many to-do’s here}.

I know one thing for sure:  If I start noticing the pressure of too many to-do’s, feeling as if I am working all the time, Satan is winning in my life.  He knows that me plus a full schedule equals less time focused on my Creator, less time focused on what’s important, because the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

busy calendar

Sure, some seasons are busier than others.  Our Women of Purpose team is much busier in September and October than any other months of the year as we plan for both a one-day conference and a four-day retreat in Honduras.  And that’s understandable.  Yet, I find that when seasons are naturally busy – suddenly – tasks emerge from all sides, adding to the normal busyness.  I say yes to this and that – small things to serve others or self.

Then, bam!

I am stuck in a mire of tasks that aren’t important and certainly do not line up with my priorities.

So, yesterday, I took a deep breath.  I got up a little earlier and spent some time in an old devotional that I’d worked through in 2012. I began reading Hinds’ Feet on High Places again during my lunch.  I listened to students more carefully and left all papers in the car while watching my son’s tennis match.

I took time to be.

I still completed some to-do’s, but my focus shifted away from the “what’s” in my life to the “who’s” …to those around me whom I love and consider important.  And to the supreme Who, my Father in Heaven.

Today, my soul feels much more quiet.  And, I wasn’t surprised when God greeted me with the following passage this morning as I opened Everyday Prayers:

It’s not difficult to see that my drivenness and busyness are rooted in fear – the fear of not being enough and having enough, the fear of losing face and losing control, the fear of missing the mark and missing out.  Come, Lord Jesus, come.  Your perfect love alone can liberate this poser, performer, and perfectionist.  Drive out my fears by a greater grasp of your grace.  You lived a life of perfect obedience, for me as the second Adam, fulfilling everything God requires of me.  You died a death of perfect love for me as the Lamb of God, exhausting God’s judgment against my sin.  Your resurrection from the dead on the third day is the firstfruits and guarantee that one day I will be as lovely as you and as loving as you, Jesus. 

There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.  1 John 4: 18-19

Rooted in fear.

Is your busyness – your to-do list – rooted in fear?

Fear of missing the mark or missing out?  (if your house isn’t clean enough or your children aren’t involved or talented enough)

Fear of not being enough or having enough?  (if you can’t have three cars and a nice house or you’re not considered “enough” of a servant)

Fear of losing face and losing control?  (if you don’t get to make the decision or lead the way)

I will always fight my inner performer and perfectionist. The one who thinks she can do it all – alone.  The one who needs Jesus daily, not just when she begins feeling overwhelmed.  The one who fears missing the mark, not having or being enough, and losing face.

I pray for your to-do’s today – whatever is motivating them.  I also humbly ask that you pray for mine.  As I juggle many roles alone, the tasks increase. My heart is to complete the necessary tasks while never becoming too busy to sit at His feet, listening and learning.  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the doing and subconsciously move Him to second place.

I am praying against that…for me and for you.

{It’s good to be writing again.}


  1. It’s good to hear from you again! I missed your posts. I really appreciated how you ordered your day filling it with God (devotions and a great book) and relationships (at work and with your children). Makes for a balanced day. I find more time for the “to do’s” in a day that is focused on our Lord. I will be praying for your time with God, your work, time with children and for Women of Purpose. Blessings on your continued writing.

    • Thanks much for the prayers…and the sweet reminder that my writing isn’t selfish “me” time, but really Him time too!!

  2. Angel Carpenter says:

    Really needed to read this today! The Lord always knows how to use you to speak to me. Love you sister!

  3. I love you, friend. This is beautiful. And definitely resonates with me. Trying to figure out how much of this cram-it-in-before-Cambodia is from God and how much is just me (and, yes, fear-based). xoxoxo Welcome back!

    • Love you too! That’s what this passage from EP helped me to do…make a list. Think over each item…and admit motivation to myself. What am I trying to prove and to whom? Will my kiddos be forever scarred because they do half the laundry?;) I understand your urgency…I mean, you’re moving to CAMBODIA!!! You have SO MUCH and SO MANY clamoring for your love and attention. Praying for you as you decide how and when to invest.

  4. I feel as though you crept in on my space in the world yesterday, saw just a glimpse of my packed-to-the-edges to-do list, watched me near tears several times during the day with the word “failure” flitting around my head like a mosquito, then you went home and wrote this just for me. You have no idea how much I needed the wisdom that God have spoken through you, my beautiful friend. I felt literally on the edge of giving up yesterday and today wasn’t much better, until I read this. It’s just what my heart needed to hear. I love you great big bunches. 🙂

    • Love you, friend. Sarah’s pretty great, huh? You are too. xoxoxo

    • Friend…I understand “on the edge of giving up” – I wonder most days how it will all get done. How I can keep all my commitments and not make anyone “mad.” I think I get the most frustrated when there are things I LOVE doing – like writing – and I feel I can’t or don’t get to because so much else is clamoring for attention. I had a mentor say to me recently…Sarah, you’re so good at helping others pursue their dreams, but when are you going to use that time to pursue yours? I do not know the answer to any of that, but I do know that I have to find a rhythm. I might not change my commitments. But, I will be very careful about future commitments and about further committing in those places I already find myself. For example, if Hannah’s dance team needs someone to make pasta salad (a seemingly small task), I will say no or I’ll buy it. Do I make good pasta salad? yes! I sure do:) But, taking time to go to the store and make it? That’s a no in this season. I also need to exercise and take care of myself (and I almost wrote this big, long justification about why that’s not selfish;)…but self-care takes time. So, that needs to fit the rhythm too. I am simply looking at each moment of the day differently now. I have TONS of papers to grade, but traded that for an hour long conversation with my kiddos last night over homemade tacos:) The performer and producer in me wanted to say…here’s your dinner I have to grade. But, I am praying and striving to live in moments – to let HIM be the motivator, not my people-pleasing, producing fear:) Praying for your “overwhelmed”…don’t give up. You have SO MUCH to offer this world. LOVE YOU!

      • It sounds like you’ve got a great idea about the concept of rhythm and now you are just working out the details…fleshing out the way it actually looks, breathes and functions in your season. It will come.

        There are things that can be left undone, even though you have actual capacity to accomplish them (like your pasta salad referenced above). This is freedom. Embrace it, explore it and accept that you get to choose your priorities. I’m so grateful for that!

        You’re doing great and I know your children are witnesses of your effort and heart. Take care of you, too!

  5. Thank you Sarah for sharing your heart. So many of us need to hear this. Praying for your “to dos”.

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