“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts…”
Jaques from William Shakespeare’s As You Like It (Full Passage Quote here)
I was a liberal arts kid in school. Ok, I am still a liberal arts person at heart. When I was inducted as a Thespian in high school, I had just completed playing the role of Elizabeth Proctor in the Crucible. I was acting and writing at church. I sang in the church choir, the youth choir and the school chorus. I even played the viola in the school orchestra. Every facet of performance thrilled me. My dream – to play Christine in Phantom of the Opera. As I got a little older, my interest moved more behind the scenes; however, I would love to be on the theater stage again. Like singing, acting is a complete challenge and thrill.
The quote, “All the world’s a stage” is tossed about liberally in the dramatic arts. Along with the never saying “good luck” and the ghost light, the quote is ingrained in theater. Shakespeare parallels the phases on man’s life as roles we play. I still love the quote but to suggest we are merely playing a role – just acting – gives a feeling of being disingenuous.
C.S. Lewis to The Rescue
I recently came across something from C.S. Lewis. This too talks about the part we play. C.S. Lewis does not prattle on about the seven stages of life we experience. He is looking at the part we play as a series of choices.
“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before.
And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself.
To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”
This lengthy quote is tucked away in the final chapter of “The Best Yes”. (Go buy it here, you won’t regret it.) Everything comes down to choices we make. Lysa states in her book that “yes” and “no” are two of the most powerful words we use. She goes on to challenge us to use the Best Yes as our filter.
Choices and Changes
If you suffer from the disease of trying to please everyone, this is a tough transition. I was over volunteered at church. It still feels icky for me to say and think that I was trying to do too much. I made a decision to give up one of the areas I volunteered in, leading a connect group. I loved doing my connect group, but if I am 100% honest, most of the time I was hurried and not thoroughly prepared. I had not been able to put the time in to study my lesson or even prepare everything for the cooking part of our class. Sometimes the decision on what we cooked came at 2:30 PM, only 4 hours before our group started.
I love my ladies and we became closer through the group, but they did not get 100%. Other areas were lacking some too. I could not prepare for my role as a youth leader and I was hurried and scattered getting prepped for Growth Track. Between work, home and all the things I had put my hand too…I was overwhelmed. Admitting that was the hardest thing I have done in a long, long time. When I made it known to Pastor Will that I was stepping back from leading a connect group, I was not met with disappointment. Instead he seemed relieved I was scaling back. It’s not the first time his action or reaction has guarded both my husband and I from potential burn out. See sometimes we others to help us make Best Yes decisions.
Seasons will change and I will lead a connect group again, I am certain of it…now is not that time. I am learning to protect and prioritize time to write. I am getting up a little earlier so my bible study time is not rushed. I’m considering commitments before I dive head-first into them. Each decision we make, makes us.
Observe and Consider
Lysa Terkeust says in her book, “A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.” Every church seems to have the person who has their hand in everything. They are the backbone of making things function. They are the go-to people to get things done. Observe this person. Are they joyful in their service or is there something bitter or hurt surfacing. I am not telling you to judge this person, although we all have. If she or he is pouring everything into, well, everything; who is pouring into her or him. Are they being spiritually fed? Are they appreciated? Has someone given them permission to say no?
I’ve seen this burn out happen with my parents who will honestly do anything to help. I mean they came to West Virginia to basically help work the Missions Banquet to help fund their grandson going to Cambodia. They have done dinner theaters. weddings, showers, and musical productions. (The list huge.) I have seen first hand how overwhelmed two people can get. I was well on my way to overwhelmed.
I had to have permission to say no and that actually started with one my Pastor’s telling someone “No” before I had a chance. He overheard my husband and I talking about an upcoming event at the church. Joe asked me if we were cooking for it and my response was, “I’m not sure, probably.” or something of that nature. Pastor Will overheard our conversation and said “No”. It was not that our help was not wanted, he was protecting us from being overwhelmed. It took a few weeks and reading “The Best Yes” to realize that 4 out of every 6 weeks we are in charge of food for Growth Track. Meaning we arrive at church between 8-830am and generally do not leave till well after 3pm. It is okay for us to need those Sunday afternoons in between for us and our family. It is okay not to agree to help with everything. What a relief!
With that I will leave you with a few final quotes from “The Best Yes”…
“The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live.
And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul.”
“Never is a woman so fulfilled as when she chooses to underwhelm her schedule so she can let God overwhelm her soul.”
“Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances.”
Are you a disease to please person? What prevents you from making Best Yes decisions? Do you have any scripture or quotes to help you make better decisions? Please share your story with me…