No, I Do Not Want to Schedule a Coffee Date

Somehow, over the last few months, life has gotten hectic, I mean real hectic. I’ve been in this place before, and it never ends well if it’s not reigned in. I’m a do-er by nature, and I love to help. In healthy perspective, this is a great trait. I’m also a time optimist, and I commit to do things when I have no business doing so because I don’t have time. When I get overcommitted, instead of backing out honestly, or flaking out quietly, I power through and start skimping on important things like time with Jesus, time with my husband, or sleep.

I’m there.

I’m in that panicky state when I’m always “on” which means I’m not enjoying the moment and I’m in accomplish mode rather than cherish mode. My friend visited a few weeks ago, and she said she couldn’t put her finger on it, but she could just tell that I wasn’t myself. I knew what the problem was. I’m not me when I’m overcommitted. I lack joy in serving. I lack clarity in counsel. I lack kindness to the ones closest to me.

God knows I’m struggling, and in the last few weeks, he’s been dropping some not-so-subtle hints about how to remedy this. My couples small group is reading a classic by Richard Foster, called Celebration of Discipline. This week, we read and discussed a chapter on Simplicity. The whole book has been a swift kick in the pants, but this chapter came at a time when I am hungry for simplicity because life has become so complicated. One of the challenges Foster poses to readers is “to let your yes be yes and your no be no”. Commit to what you can, don’t commit to what you can’t. And do what you commit to do. Earlier in the book, Foster talks about Otium Sanctum “Holy Liesure” which refers to “balance in life, that is an ability to be at peace through the activities of the day, an ability to rest and take time to enjoy beauty, an ability to pace ourselves.”

I need some space for Otium Sanctum in my life.

While I was eating up the notion of simplicity, Bob Goff came and spoke at church this Sunday. One of the things that grabbed me, was his energetic plea to quit something every Thursday. He said that even good things get in the way of us loving God, loving others, and doing stuff. He begged us all to start quitting things and leave room in our lives for God to use us in unplanned ways.

So, today is Thursday, and I’m quitting something.

I love that the majority of my friends are counselors and social workers and life coaches and pastors. I feel so well-loved and advised after much of my friend time. Yesterday, over lunch, my friend who happens to be a life coach, listened as I rattled off the busyness of life. She suggested I make a list of what I do with my time, and assign times to those things. She suggested that after I get a realistic picture of my time, that I should craft a “more of” and a “less of list” and that as I decide what in my life I want to spend more time doing, I have to subtract some things from my life. It’s almost like she’s really good at what she does. It was amazing advice.

This morning, I made my list. I kid you not, I have 4 hours of unaccounted for time in my week. FOUR HOURS! No wonder I’m feeling completely overwhelmed. I can’t remember the last time I plunked down on my porch swing for some unplanned quiet moments. I can’t remember the last time I had some free time and got to be completely spontaneous.

I’m craving space and simplicity and spontaneity.

So I’m going after it. And it means setting some boundaries and giving up some really good things. All of my life stuff involves people, so this is hard for me, because me quitting things feels a little like quitting people.

I’m getting to that point where I’m not that fun to be around, though, so if I don’t cut out some people time, people will start cutting me out soon enough.

So on this Thursday, I’m quitting coffee dates for the rest of October. It’s not you, it’s me… seriously. Maybe things will be less hectic in November, but if not, I’ll quit coffee for November, too.

Also if we have had coffee in the last few weeks, no you did not trigger this-I love lattes and great conversations. That’s what makes this quitting thing a challenge. But if all my time is planned out, I don’t have room for God to move spontaneously and I want that.

So, if you ask me to coffee, I’m going to have to say no. Please don’t be offended. Also, I’m not quitting coffee, the world isn’t ready for that version of Allison.

How’s your life? Do you have Holy Liesure? Is there anything you need to quit today?

12 thoughts on “No, I Do Not Want to Schedule a Coffee Date

  1. I have done the same thing to myself time after time. Recently, I have been making a sincere effort to say “no”, spend time alone, read books for no good reason, etc. It is a constant struggle. I have felt like I have been told my whole life that by constantly “doing” I am a better person, wife, friend, etc. I’m realizing it isn’t true. Now I have just got to convince my brain. 🙂 Good luck!

  2. Hey Allison, this was a great post and something I’ve been thinking about lately too. I think life in China, in language school, and as a parent has a different kind of busyness – lately I don’t feel that overwhelming, can’t-catch-your-breath busyness but I do feel like it’s easy to lose sight of the important things in the day-to-day very scheduled routine. I have just been reading a book a friend loaned about organizing your time as a family – specifically creating priorities and context to always keep the big picture in mind and respond to commitments through that framework. And I have been thinking a lot about living more simply as well. I think that extreme busyness is a huge problem, especially in America. It is easy to kid ourselves that if we are busy all the time, it must mean our lives our meaningful and we are good people. Actually it leaves us drained, spiritually empty, and unable to give our best to anything or anyone. I’m glad you are taking a definite step to remedy that. 加油! Keep it up!

  3. I have felt challenged by letting my “yes be yes and my no be no” in the last year. I don’t know how I came to feel challenged in this way–I don’t remember the cause–but I know it was the Spirit’s prompting. It is refreshing to either commit to things or not. To follow through on the commitments because hopefully they are smaller in number and intentional. Even in small things, like praying for people. I felt convicted about telling people I was praying or would pray for them and then have no intention of following through. it’s dishonest. Or before saying to someone “we should get together this week,” thinking through my week first so that when I say it, I mean it, can call that person the next day and set it up, or NOT. I really want to read this book now that you have talked about it a lot!

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