by Kim Boley
Have you ever eaten too much? Like, where you’re just miserable? It feels kinda gross, right?
What about when you enjoy a meal, you’re full, but you don’t feel miserable? You still feel normal and pleasant? It’s so nice! I love that feeling when I’ve enjoyed everything on my plate, but I don’t feel awful.
This is how I recently began looking at my time. I’ve been offered some amazing things the past couple of years, but I know I can’t say yes to it all. Even with the amazing things I already get to do, I’ve been offered more. But I’m limited. I hate that.
So how do I determine what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to?
I remember saying to my husband one night when discussing what my roles should look like in Chi Alpha next year, “I think my plate is too full.”
And I was hit with this metaphor.
I saw a plate full of delicious food: My main course was my family—my biggest priority after God—my daughters and my husband, and yes, my dog. My favorite side dish is our ministry—Chi Alpha at Southeast Missouri State. Which, honestly, is super easy to fill up on. I love what we do, so it’s easy to put a lot of that on my plate, and I must be careful how much space that takes up. Other side dishes are things I do for National Chi Alpha and our district, but I must keep these dishes small.
Desserts are my hobbies. Mostly reading. I know I could indulge a lot on it, but I also know my entire meal can’t be made up of just dessert. But a little is very enjoyable, and I could argue dessert is very necessary!
Coffee is my connection with friends. Sadly, I feel as if this one does get sacrificed a lot, but I’m so aware that I need it to get me through. I’ve been prioritizing this one more lately.
You might be wondering where God is in this metaphor? My time with Him is the napkin. So simple. So necessary. Cleans me up no matter what’s gotten on my hands and face. Refreshes me. My time with Him determines the quality of the napkin.
The plate is my time. My time has not grown and never will. I still have only twenty-four hours in a day. My plate is fixed.
About a year ago, I recognized my plate was full and I’d already included dessert. Sometimes dessert was knocked off the plate for a bit. But if I add one more thing, something more important than dessert would fall off my plate, and if I was not careful, I’d drop the entire meal.
So, when asked to take on another project or step into another role, I needed to assess the overall priority. What kind of dish is this? What will I lose on my current plate if I take this on? How many meals will that be? Is that overall worth it?
Yes, there are seasons of tasks, projects, etc. But how long do I want less of my main dish? How much extra of that smaller side do I want on my plate? Thanksgiving does have a big meal but that’s not meant to be consumed every day. Sometimes my kids only eat mac and cheese for dinner but that’s not supposed to happen at every meal.
I don’t want to feel too full and miserable. I don’t want to stack so much on my plate and cram it all in those twenty-four hours that I feel miserable afterwards.
I don’t want to rush time with my kids because I have to get something else done for Chi Alpha. And I don’t want to do so much for our ministry that my time with my family gets covered by it. Then when I go to bed, I feel miserable, because I didn’t do any of it well and I can’t even remember the last time I had a cup of coffee!
I don’t know if any of this will help you or not. Life is busy. But it’s okay to say no. It really is. I’ve been practicing it more. I’ve been getting more creative with what I do and embracing peace about passing on things.
I’m not perfect but I’m getting better.
I would encourage you to write out your own “meal” plan. Talk to your spouse and/or an awesome friend on your priorities. My husband knows things that will tempt me and knows what I would say yes to and make room on my plate for, should certain opportunities arise. This helps when I’m tempted to take something on that doesn’t fit; he can remind me what kind of meal I committed to eat.
And, of course, don’t ever forget your napkin!
Kim serves alongside her husband, James, as Chi Alpha missionaries at Southeast Missouri State University. They have two daughters, Abbi & Lizzie, and one fur baby (a black Labrador) named Natasha.
Kim attended Missouri State University in Springfield, MO where she was introduced to Chi Alpha Campus Ministries her freshman year.
After she graduated in 2006, she spent the next seven years at the University of Missouri in Columbia, serving as a missionary associate with Chi Alpha. In 2013, she and James felt led to pioneer a Chi Alpha where there wasn’t one. Through a series of God-moments, He brought them to Cape Girardeau, MO and the campus of SEMO. Since then, they have both become ordained ministers, learned even more about life and ministry, and fallen more in love with God and each other. Kim is a huge fan of coffee, dogs (especially labs), books, and her college kids. She loves doing Chi Alpha with her whole family by sharing life together.
This is a safe place for ministry wives and women ministers to be renewed, resourced, and build relationships with others just like you.
Sign-up in December for your January Connect Group.