Make Room to Breathe

Morning still life with green utensils on shabby chic table and light from the blinds

It was one of my favorite trees. And it was dying.

We live on a lake, and my dying tree was truly a “tree planted by streams of water.” So how could it be dying? How could branches right in the smack dab middle of the bushy green be turning into kindling? It didn’t make sense.

I called an arborist to come out and take a look. He saw the problem right away.

“Ma’am, see how that tree looks like a telephone pole stuck in the ground? That’s not the way a tree should be planted. You should be able to see some of the roots spreading out from the trunk. Those roots are covered up with dirt, grass, and these pretty perennials you’ve planted at the base. The tree can’t breathe.”

“It can’t breathe?” I asked.

“Yep. You see a tree is a living organism that needs to breathe just like you do. If the roots are smothered, then it can’t. Trees need sunlight, water, carbon dioxide and nutrients from the soil. Those flowers you have planted around it are actually stealing the nutrients. The dirt covering the roots is suffocating it. It has water, but it needs more than that.

“Bottom line, your tree is stressed out.”

Ah, words I understood. Stressed out.

So, the arborist cleared away some of the dirt from around the roots to allow the tree to breathe and cut away the dead limbs. Then he dug up the flowers and tossed them aside. I could almost hear the tree take a deep breath as if to say, “Ah, thank you!”

Three months later, it looks like the tree is going to make it after all.

I thought of David’s words

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV)

All this thinking about a tree planted by streams of water made me think about my schedule…my life.

And of course, that led me to your schedule…your life.

I like to think of myself as a tree planted by the water similar to the one mentioned in the first psalm. I get up every morning and soak in God’s Word before jumping into my day. That’s my water. My living water.

But it’s not enough to drink in the morning and then smother my day with too many activities, commitments, and deadlines.

I need more than water to thrive.

I need to breathe.

I think of Jesus’ words to his disciples…to me…to you:

Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

You need to breathe.

I can plant “beautiful” activities in my life like those flowers, but they may be sucking the nutrients right out of my soul. Those activities might look nice on my calendar, but they might not be soul nice.

I can smother my roots with commitments and pile on the soil so that I look more like a non-living thing stuck in the ground—a telephone pole—rather than a fruit-bearing tree.

So as we begin this fall season with its activities left and right, we need to stop and examine if they are exactly what God wants us to do, or if they are just “pretty flowers ” that are keeping us from being that tree that yields fruit in due season.

Before taking on a new commitment, ask yourself these questions my friend Liz Higgs taught me to ask:

  1. Will this activity matter one week from today? One month? One year?
  2. Is there someone who does this task better than I do, to whom I might delegate it?
  3. Does it satisfy a heart need for me or someone I love very much?
  4. What are the ramifications if I don’t do it?
  5. What are the outcomes if I do?

As we think about our fall schedules with it’s commitments and deadlines, we need to ask ourselves if we are covering up the roots of our hearts—smothering them from the very air we need to breathe.

Let’s do more than survive. Let’s thrive!

Clear away what needs to be cleared away. Toss out what needs to be tossed (even if it looks pretty on your schedule).

Make room to breathe.

If you are willing to commit to not overcrowding your schedule this fall, leave a comment that says, “I will not overcommit!”

39 Responses to Make Room to Breathe

  1. Kim September 13, 2016 at 5:01 am #

    I will not “OverCommit”!

  2. Georgia September 13, 2016 at 5:41 am #

    I am willing to not overcrowd my schedule and leave room to breathe!

  3. Cathe September 13, 2016 at 6:10 am #

    I have learned over the last 5 years ( actually I think God kindly removed) that busyness does not equal being productive. I did ask those questions and as much as I hate to admit the world didn’t crash around me because I wasn’t there for everything. I was reminded quality is better then quantity. I appreciate my time more now and invest it where it will do the most good. God, Family, my church and career. I don’t overcommit.

  4. Rachelle Craig September 13, 2016 at 6:36 am #

    I will not overcommit!

  5. Danna Mullens Reese September 13, 2016 at 6:37 am #

    I will not overcommit.

  6. Paige E September 13, 2016 at 7:26 am #

    I will not over commit!

  7. Michelle Bell September 13, 2016 at 7:44 am #

    I will not overcommit!

  8. Ileana September 13, 2016 at 7:57 am #

    “I will not overcommit!”

  9. Sheila Tanner September 13, 2016 at 8:21 am #

    I will not over commit

  10. Shannon Payne September 13, 2016 at 8:53 am #

    I will (try very hard) not to overcomitt!

  11. Elaine Tomasello September 13, 2016 at 9:10 am #

    “I will not overcommit!”

  12. Esther McCarthy September 13, 2016 at 9:13 am #

    Your message is so timely. I have already over committed myself and your message will force me to look at my schedule and ask myself those questions. What stays and what goes? Thank you and God Bless!💕

  13. Michelle September 13, 2016 at 9:27 am #

    I will not over commit.

  14. Nikki September 13, 2016 at 9:45 am #

    I will NOT over commit! Thanks for the reminder of what happens when I do.

  15. Jules September 13, 2016 at 10:04 am #

    I will not over commit

  16. Norma Brubaker September 13, 2016 at 10:08 am #

    Thank you Sharon. I needed to hear that. Blessings to you.

  17. Cylinda September 13, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    Just what I needed to read this morning. I start my day with the Lord, but all too soon with the commitments and workload, I find I’m doing my day in my own strength. I need more than just a morning quiet time. I need to breathe and not be suffocated under the weight of activities.

  18. Denise September 13, 2016 at 10:59 am #

    I will not Overcommit

  19. Doreen Conover September 13, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

    I am over committed. Starting now, I will not overcommit. I will let go of some of the activities that are not necessary.

  20. Janice September 13, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    I will not overcommit!!!

  21. Willa Eklund September 13, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

    I will not overcommit!!!

  22. Carolyn September 13, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

    I will not over commit! I’ve been telling folks in my life that I will pencil in an activity or appointment because nothing is so important that it can’t be rescheduled. With a child with special needs this is paeticularly important so I don’t stress myself. It’s a tough habit to break, over committing, but I feel good about this change I’m making so far.

  23. Mercy September 13, 2016 at 6:24 pm #

    I will not, I really need your Jesus in my life, my family in every step I take, in all that I do, in my husband’s life

  24. Regina September 13, 2016 at 8:16 pm #

    I will not overcommit

  25. Sandra Warner September 14, 2016 at 6:34 am #

    I LOVE this, and have always found it difficult to prioritize so that life is not just one big episode of busyness. I am the mother of 6, grandmother of 5, teacher, wife, and have been the PTA President, jail ministry participant, head of ministries in the church, etc. etc. Often, I have been exhausted. I know, also, that it means I should lay my desires before the Lord, and let Him prioritize my life. Sometimes being busy is a great way to keep from dealing with the inner things that need attention, and for many reasons are avoided. I will not overcommit. Thank you for this! You’ve made my day.

  26. Sarah September 14, 2016 at 6:44 am #

    As it stands, I av Overcomittd
    But readin ds stopd me halfway
    I pray I will not Overcomit Anymore.

  27. Beatrice Voltaire September 14, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

    I will not overcommit

  28. Valerie September 14, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful lesson with such great imagery. I love the Psalm about the tree and I see how I need to leave more breathing space and to protect my time more, and ensure that I don’t crowd in too many activities even though they seem good or great or important.
    God bless you for how you write and share your life with grace, encouragement and vulnerability.
    Blessings,
    Valerie

  29. Renee September 15, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

    Thank you for this message. I have shared with my fellow “busy Christian friends”

  30. Yolanda Deese September 17, 2016 at 8:44 am #

    I will not overcommit!

  31. Katrina S. September 20, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

    I will not overcommit!

  32. Fernande Jean September 28, 2016 at 7:46 am #

    I will not overcommit but it us very hard.I ne eded to hear your good message.God bless you Sharon!

  33. Fernande Jean September 28, 2016 at 7:50 am #

    I will not overcommit but it is very hard.I ne eded to hear your good message.God bless you Sharon!

  34. Fernande Jean September 28, 2016 at 8:28 am #

    I will not to overcommit.I needed to hear that.Thank you Sharon and God bless you!

  35. Lilly Zing September 28, 2016 at 8:41 am #

    Thank you so much for this reminder to take time and breath! I tend to full my schedule with to much, and in return, I am not giving all I can to any of them. I made some changes, and now, I can breathe. My family is very appreciative.

  36. Lilly Zing September 28, 2016 at 8:45 am #

    Thank you for reminding me to Breathe. I tend to full my schedule with to much, nothing gets my full attention. I have made some changes, now, I can breathe! Thanks again.

  37. Jade September 29, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    Breathe and Be still. Being still and alone with God is a MUST. Beautiful message.

  38. Kathy Ernst October 28, 2016 at 10:14 pm #

    I will not overcommit!!

  39. Maud Patten November 3, 2016 at 3:37 am #

    Thank you for this reminder. I will not overcommit.

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