Wise Scheduling in 2021, and Saying No to Grow

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11

I see you. Marking appointments, scheduling workouts, highlighting birthdays and meetings so you don’t miss a beat. It’s thrilling, isn’t it? And it is good. The Lord has given us an unknown amount of moments on the earth to do His will, bring Him glory, and make Him known. Especially after the 2020 we had, it’s time to schedule some much needed catchups with loved ones! For me, planning each day to the fullest is a way to thank God for what He has given me by stewarding time faithfully.

But take a deep, honest scan at your planner this week. Then ask yourself a tough question – who really made all these plans? Maybe you’ve developed enough self discipline, and your planner is balanced and decorated with meaningful meetings. If that is you- praise God! If you’re anything like me, however, you have endured many weeks where you have fulfilled seven days straight of plans, and afterwards you feel drained and unaccomplished. Sometimes I look at my planner and realize that I didn’t make any of the plans on my schedule.

I get it- there are SO many good things to put on the calendar these days. I live in a different city from my family and my best friends, so phone calls and Facetime dates are absolutely necessary. My wedding planning requires a planner of its own. Maintaining an active lifestyle strongly affects my mental and emotional wellbeing, so I schedule chunks of time to move my body. And of course, I want to see the people who are right in front of me, too! Toss in grocery shopping, church, and the occasional bubble bath, and it becomes all too easy to believe the axiom, “there really aren’t enough hours in a day!” If I’m not intentional with my scheduling, I’ll return home from a career where I am constantly communicating with no room for the introverted recharge time I crave. And as much as I hate to admit it, if I’m constantly accepting the plans of others, I end up feeling as though I have no time or energy for my own, and more importantly, God’s plans.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. - Galatians 1:10

One obstacle I encounter when saying no to calendar invites is the fear of disappointing the people I love the most. After all, there is nothing inherently unbiblical about spending time with loved ones. In fact, in order to fulfill the Great Commission or even just love our neighbors, we need to make time for our neighbors! How to do this well without over-committing, or becoming a complete recluse? I’ve devised 3 tips that help me decide when it’s time to move forward with a plan, or say no in order to grow.

Put first things first. – When I was a little girl, I would get so frustrated when my parents wouldn’t let me watch television until I finished my homework. Now, I’m so thankful that at a young age they were teaching me how to prioritize. As a general rule, I try to place the most important and immutable things in my planner before the more flexible plans. I like to put all tasks, including prayer time, workouts, and naps, into my planner. After my non-negotiables are jotted down in ink, I have a better idea of what I actually have time for with the remaining hours in the day.

Lean into limits. – I’m so very thankful for my village of family and friends, and the steps we take to stay in touch (honestly, if you haven’t made an obnoxious birthday call in a grocery store, how real is the friendship? Just kidding, but I’ve been there.). If I am not intentional about writing down the times I’d like to reconnect with others, I find myself with a social obligation almost every day after work, when I’m clean out of social energy. When I can, I try to limit my calls and social plans to 2-3 per week. This allows me to have some wonderful, intentional catch-up times without burning out or spreading myself thin. And though I spent the first half of my twenties feeling like I had to have a super valid excuse for not being able to hang out, I can now confidently declare, “I’m sorry, I’m not free that evening” without feeling burdened with guilt. Each person is different, so pray about it and use godly wisdom to decide what a healthy schedule looks like for you. Then, stick to it!

Grow in grace. – I’m far from perfect when it comes to employing these tips. Too many snooze buttons and I wind up skipping my quiet time and morning workout. Some weeks, I try to play God and do all the things (and fail miserably). I’ve missed birthday celebrations, telling myself that I am simply too tired. God’s grace is abundant, and we need to extend grace to ourselves and others as we navigate what it looks like to schedule for God’s glory. I have found that those who know me best always understand, and I know it is the same for you. The people in your life love you and vastly prefer that you are joyful, healthy, and walking in purpose. Be confident, compassionate, and communicative as you make your plans.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

There is so much value in inviting the Lord into how you schedule your week, even if that means saying no in order to grow closer to Him. As summer fun amps up and overdue plans are made, I hope this devotional and these tips help you fill up your planner purposefully. Be blessed, y’all!

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