by Kirsten Watson
Bringing a snack to a class party seems like a pretty simple task. So when I got the request, I took a look in my pantry. I had a box of brownie mix, oil, and eggs on hand, so I said, “Sure.” Then I got an email telling me some kids in the class don’t like chocolate—and since they’re doing a unit on the Roman Empire, could the snack be something ancient Romans would eat?
When something’s over the top, that’s extra.
An extra buck for guacamole is worth it, but the cost of “extra” can really add up. It can end up breaking the bank of your resources— of money, time, and energy. Let me tell you about the time I came face-to-face with extra.
My husband Benjamin, a professional football player, had just signed with a new team. I was happy for Benjamin, but it meant moving. Again. Our youngest was less than a month old, and Benjamin was about to start training camp. Sleep deprived and jittery, I realized I was going to be “single” for a season in a new place with no real support network, facing long nights and groggy mornings..
That’s when the migraine hit.
I’ve suffered from migraines since I was eighteen, but somehow they seemed to be getting worse. Even though I absolutely hate needles—I was desperate. I made an appointment with an acupuncturist.
As a patient, I usually come prepared to spill my guts quickly. Knowing doctors are usually in a hurry and distracted, I assume I’ll get a quick once-over, and a prescription.
Well, this guy was not in a hurry, and he wasn’t distracted. He moved slowly. Deliberately. He listened to my heart. He looked at my tongue. He looked into my eyes like he could see my brain in there. “You’re under a great deal of stress.”
Clearly this guy had read my mail.
“In my country,” he said, “people die from disease. In the US, people die from stress. You have too much stress. If you don’t do something different, you’re going to continue to suffer.”
The message was clear. Stress was killing me.
I couldn’t hold back my tears. I had a list of stresses. None of them seemed negotiable. All I could think was, Bring on the needles!
After I left his office, what he said really sank in. I needed to make some changes. My life depended on it.
That’s when I began to say no to extra. Only in saying no to extra can I say yes to my real purpose.
Remember Jesus’ friends Mary and Martha? These sisters and their brother, Lazarus, were dear to Jesus. There’s a story in Luke 10 that really brings home the idea of extra for me. Jesus was visiting His friends when Martha got bent out of shape. She felt stuck with the cooking and housework while Mary skipped out to sit with Jesus. Irritated, Martha took her complaint to Jesus. His response? “You are worried and upset about many things. . . . Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her” (verses 41-42).
Whoa. Did you catch that?
Those other things weren’t bad; they just pulled Martha away from what was better. And what’s better? Jesus.
I’m a lot like Martha. I have my list of things to get done. When I’m distracted from the list of things I can control, I get irritable. But, I want what’s better. God wants better for me too.
As women, we often carry more than our fair share of the load. This goes for relationships: we feel like everyone’s happiness and comfort depend on us. This is also true domestically: we feel like anything that happens in our homes and families is our responsibility to manage. This can happen without our agreeing to it. We just gradually take responsibility for the well-being of others, especially those we love.
Limits are a good thing. God made us in His image, but unlike God, we’re not all-powerful. There are limits on human energy, and limits on our time. He gives us just twenty-four hours in every day—and somehow we have to work some sleep in there somewhere. Thank God His mercies are new every morning.
Jesus brought the best, most radical news ever when He said that by saying yes to Him, we are children of the most high God. Because of Jesus and His death and resurrection, we are all God’s children—male and female, people from every tribe, language, and nation.
When I know who I am—and whose I am—extra falls away like the dead petals on a flower.
God is in charge of the universe. All I’m in charge of is . . . myself. Of course I am responsible to the people I’m in relationship with: Benjamin, our kids, and then everyone else. But God is in charge of me. What a relief!
Knowing my true identity brings a healthy tension between humility and confidence. I’m not cocky, but I can say no to “extra” with courage because I know I’m choosing what is better. When I choose wisely what I say yes to, it allows room for His extra.
Adapted from Sis, Take a Breath: Encouragement for the Woman Who’s Trying to Live and Love Well (but Secretly Just Wants to Take a Nap) by Kirsten Watson with Ami McConnell.
Kirsten Watson is a mom of seven and wife of author and retired NFL player Benjamin Watson. Kirsten worked for a Fortune 500 company and then in the nonprofit sector. Now she’s CEO of a family of nine and the executive editor of MomLife Today. With Benjamin, she founded the One More foundation and together they cohost Why or Why Not with the Watsons. Learn more at thewatsonseven.com or follow Kirsten @_kirstenwatson_.