For most everyone (especially photographers), this is the busiest time of year. And for me–it’s very easy to become overwhelmed especially when I’ve already cut back the days I will work (Tues/Sat) in an attempt to focus more on my first jobs as a wife and mommy. I’ve let some extra things creep in (sessions and in the midst of being overbooked I have been so busy and said yes to more people than I normally would…my church for example has asked me to help photograph, frame and redecorate their halls!) I’ve justified more work to save up for our adoption and all the paperwork and errands for our adoption have also required more of my time…I’ve felt a little—well, that’s an understatement…actually I’ve felt VERY overwhelmed lately. Jean Fleming in her book “Finding Focus in a Whirlwind World” says…
“As we seek to focus life, a formidable problem becomes apparent. Life loses focus without any effort, determination, or decision on our part. The process of living, day in and day out, tends to dilute and divert focus. We become so busy that we have no time to consider HOW we live…”
Here’s a healthy exercise that Jean recommends to help maintain focus…helping you keep the main thing…the main thing! She imagines a tree where the trunk represents her relationship with Christ. The limbs are the major areas of God-given responsibility (wife, mommy, etc).The branches are the activities and opportunities of life (these things should flow out of your responsibilities). Some times the activities multiply obscurring the trunk and limbs. When this happens, you can feel trapped! Jean says “I must go beyond defining life by activities. I must focus not on the branches, but on the trunk and the limbs. I do what I do because of Jesus and His claim on my life. I don’t do what I don’t do for the same reason.”
AMEN! I need to focus on that latter part…I DON’T DO WHAT I DON’T DO FOR THE SAME REASON! Amen! Amen! Now, I need to get some q-tips, clean out my ears and say it again so I really get it!
Living with focus means pruning your overcrowded tree. Feeling overwhelmed? Taking on too much? Time to prune. And a beautiful, fruitful tree some times has to be pruned a couple of times each year. For severely crazy trees like myself—we need to prune monthly. Yes…I’m a special case;). I feel like I’m not only overgrown but also holding one too many birdnests…and there’s bird poop everywhere. Ok, let’s not take this illustration overboard Andrea;). Seriously, I feel like I might be a special case right now. FOCUS–Evaluate all of the limbs and see what is causing some limbs to weigh so heavy to cause your branches to not thrive and go in the direction they should…and if you look hard enough you’ll notice limbs (and maybe even nests;) that don’t belong there at all. Then prune–and set new direction.
Today I had WAY too much to do—and guess what? It’s still undone. But a tree needed to be pruned before I could go further. Here is my unpruned tree…sadly it is full of tasks relating to work and it is neglecting the other branches…and even my sacred trunk!
When I evaluate my tree—what I’m feeling my time with right now—it does not line up with my trunk or my limbs. My branches are all wrong. WAAAA! (I hate being wrong!) My limbs are filling days with keeping up with work and making room for more work. My tree is saying “my work is more important than my relationship with Christ, my husband and my children”. This is NOT what I want my tree to look like or what I want to say! I don’t FEELthat—and I hate that my illustration is saying that…OK, ok, ok—let me “justify” my tree by saying that I just want to work to raise money for our adoption. ERRRR! Sorry Andrea…no justifying that one. PRUNE. What my tree also says is “I think I can do provide rather than God can provide”. It also says, “I am trusting myself to come up with what we need rather than God to come up with what we need.” Time to do some pruning. My intentions are good, but I’ve got it all wrong…and good intentions don’t get you anywhere when the things that matter are neglected. Getting the shears out…and time to do some painful pruning.
What am I thinking most about? How am I spending most of my time? Honestly, I am thinking only about editing, ordering and how I’m going to get it all done. How will it all get done? When will the government mail us back our FBI fingerprinting clearance? How am I going to find time to take all the online courses? Ekkk…had to cancel 2 sessions today due to weather…where will I reschedule them??? Time to sloooow down—and the first step for me is to commit to not book another session for 2009. Nope. Not ONE more. I have to trust the LORD to meet all my needs. I WILL trust the Lord to meet all my needs! It may require a longer wait. It may not be in my timing! And it may be agains my will. But not MY WILL be done but the Lord’s! In the process of getting it all wrong, I am neglecting the branches that the Lord has entrusted to me—my God-given roles of being a wife, mom, having a ministry with others and for now—a job (but a part time only 2 session a week job.)
Our limbs (how we REALLY spend our time, who we really make time for, etc) will reflect what we really believe about our trunk and how seriously we take the well being of the roles of our branches. Time to prune to make these things reflect one another. If someone asks me to do something–I need to do a mental check of my pruned tree before committing. I also need to say, “I need to check and see if that’s possible tonight, can I get back to you tomorrow?” The Bible instructs us in Phillipians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Pray about it—and give an answer to others after you have prayed about it. I’M PREACHIN’ TO THE CHOIR HERE PEOPLE…completely for my own soul to hear…this is all for me to process and pruning is just what is in order for today!
My pruned tree to help me focus…
This new tree is pruned and in order. It will not please everyone—but it will please those who matter most to me. It may hurt some people’s feelings if I can’t do something, fit another client in and it may not produce the money I think I need for our adoption…but it will produce fruit. The Lord will provide the rest.