Chaos, Community, and Christ

Written by Jamie Sass
Published on March 03, 2023

It’s Sunday night. The ice arena where my ninth grade daughter, Evelyn, spends four days per week feels extra cold tonight. I calculate how much of my evening I have left. It’s already 4:45, and if I don’t stay to watch how her jumps are shaping up, I can still make a nice Sunday dinner while my husband walks the dog. Maybe I can mop the floors before Evelyn is done at 6:00, if I time it right. I check the calendar—nevermind. Jesse, my husband, is heading back to church to run AV, and Evelyn has something to do with her youth group.

The overscheduled family

 My husband and I both work full-time and are fully engaged in ministry and community efforts. Our daughter is an honor student, a Girl Scout, and a youth group leader. She is a theater nerd. And baker (#humblebrag: my girl can bake better than most Christian church ladies I know). Most recently, she is a babysitter. She doesn’t know a stranger, but she can’t drive herself anywhere yet. Our family calendar is overflowing with reminders about my daughter’s blossoming social calendar. On paper, the list feels endless and exhausting. It’s even more daunting in my time crunched real life. 

Why do we do it? We overschedule ourselves partly because we love it. My daughter and I both have success-driven personalities that need to constantly learn something, do something, and prove something. We thrive in environments that live in that sweet spot of “ I can’t handle one more thing,” and “I’m restless, let’s find something to do.” We have lots of energy, but the good Lord only wired us with so much. Sometimes, we crash. We’ll take the weekend off. Order pizza. Watch the Cooking Channel until we’re convinced that we, too, can become master chefs. Wait. Is that a class we can sign up for? 

I’ve been telling myself since Evelyn’s preschool gymnastics that this was for her. That it would make her confident. Well-rounded. Smart. To Evelyn’s credit, she is all of those things and so much more. I do not think it has anything to do with classes though. Until recently, the classes have been for me. They have served as an external validation that I’m a “good mother.” It helps prove that somehow, her awesomeness is partially a result of my hard work and sacrifice. Spoiler alert: it’s not. God gifted her in many ways that are beyond what I could have done for her.

The servant’s heart in borderline chaos

I’m glad I have a child that is actively engaged with her life; however, that’s not to say that this doesn’t come with a price for the rest of our family. Although my husband is excited we’re excited about the overabundance of our family’s to-do lists, he’s not excited about overextending himself. My introverted husband does not thrive on borderline chaos the way Evelyn and I do. 

For him, being on the run multiple days of the week is more exhausting than exhilarating. Jesse picks up a lot of the slack in shuffling Evelyn to her activities. And because he’s a terrific, involved dad and an excellent model for the Romans 15:13 servant’s heart, he never complains. The wear on him becomes obvious, however, when he firmly requests a quiet night at home—no friends over, no classes. Just us, dinner in, a board game, and most importantly, extra bedtime prayers at an earlier bedtime. 

Pausing in the midst of burnout

These small pauses in our schedule are refreshing. The frantic pace takes its toll on us after a while too. It’s not obvious at first. The burnout is slow coming, but furious when it finally hits, much like seismic activity. There are always a few small ground shakes that are trying to warn us something big is coming for us, but it’s easy to brush off until the 8-point earthquake hits. It’s easy to brush aside the daily feeling of being worn out. It’s easy to power through the 15-hour days on the weekends. But we can only do this for so long before the ground shakes hard, opens up, and threatens to swallow us whole. 

A spiritual reset 

These breaks do more than just reset us emotionally, though. They also help reset us spiritually. When I’m overworked from trying to be “mom extraordinaire,” my eyes aren’t lifted up to the Lord. Where the world prizes busyness and the drive to be the best, the Lord prizes our holiness. Our obedience and service to him. 

I am positive that God has blessed my sweet girl in a lot of ways that will glorify him. I’m equally positive Satan works overtime to keep my mama’s heart shrouded in fear, doubt, and competitiveness. If I’m too concerned with how we compare to worldly standards of achievement, then how am I ever going to make time for godly standards? Romans 12:2 (NIV) tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Jesus needed breaks. If it’s good enough for Christ, shouldn’t it be good enough for me too? Satan would love nothing more than to keep us distracted with things that don’t matter. 

The balance of God’s design

So we reassess periodically. We’re an Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) family: God designed us for work, and to reflect his glory, I can’t slack. I often rely on the godly counsel of my close Christian friends to help me make sense of my hurricane life and what will honor the Lord. As busy as this feels sometimes, it is also reassuring to know I am not in it alone. I have God. I also have wonderful friends. I spend significant time in prayer with both.

We talk about almost everything in our lives, but a recurring theme is the general busyness of our day-to-day lives. We acknowledge we’ve done this to ourselves. We could schedule our children less, volunteer less often, or take a backseat in our careers or own interests. None of those feel viable, so we commiserate. We pray. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry. We eat leftover Girl Scout cookies and bring each other coffee to edify and encourage.

 Most importantly, we point each other toward the only parenting benchmark that should matter: Jesus. 

Consider a few extra resources:

Trusting God’s plan for my kids

Pray, hope, and don’t worry

Survival mode


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Jamie Sass

Jamie Sass lives in Iowa with her husband and daughter. She works for Iowa State University, where she coaches students in professional writing (primarily) and doles out life advice to undergraduates who need a “mom” while they are in college. Jamie is always trying to find the balance among work, home, and fun and thinks sometimes she cracked the code. You can find her talking about her everyday life on Facebook (@jdharsha).

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