Are you stretched too thin?

Last night, my husband and I spent 3 hours in the emergency room for a cut on his hand. Thankfully, there were no complications, and he’s now healing nicely. But of course, this is not how anyone wants to spend an evening.

As we checked out and paid our co-pay to the receptionist, I found myself thankful that we have an “emergency fund” in our bank account, set up to cover unexpected expenses just like this. Whew! Thanks to this pre-planning, we aren’t stretched so thin in the budget that we can’t handle an unexpected crisis payment.

But this morning, I found myself additionally thankful that we had room in our schedule to allow for a three-hour interruption. This was our whole night; we didn’t even get to eat dinner until afterward (and we were very hungry) let alone do anything else that we originally had planned. There are seasons of life – sometimes weeks, sometimes months – where we would have felt a lot more stress about such an interruption. Sometimes, we are stretched too thin to comfortably handle what life throws at us.

There’s not an option to have an “emergency fund” of available time that you can dole out when unexpected crises arise – you simply have to make room to handle the crisis. But we can prepare in advance. The busier life is, the more stress we are likely to experience. The more activities and commitments we add to our schedule, the more stress we will feel when something interrupts that schedule. And, in reality, the more we have on our schedule, the more opportunity there is for something to go awry and then interrupt everything else.

No one can predict the when/where/what of a crisis, but we can predict that it will happen eventually. There will be a three-hour interruption, sometime. You’ll miss dinner, maybe on the very day when you didn’t have time for lunch. A bill will eventually come in that you weren’t expecting. Are you stretched too thin to handle the unexpected interruptions?

I am thankful that we are not currently in a season of such busyness. Losing an evening was simply an inconvenience. We could fully focus on my husband’s health without needing to juggle a thousand other commitments that were getting pushed off.

There is value in pre-planning for life’s interruptions by leaving some wiggle room and flexibility on the calendar. What is most likely to interrupt you? Try to plan for that. What would be most stressful? Mentally prepare. And of course, remember the deep truth of Proverbs 16:9 – “In their hearts, people plan their course. But the Lord establishes their steps.” We can’t control, let alone accurately predict, what will happen tomorrow… or even tonight. If you’re stretched too thin to handle what the Lord brings or allows to happen, this may be an area for prayer and re-evaluation.

Written by Jessica Hayes
iHope Executive Director