The series, “Women of a Generous Spirit” by Lois Mowday Rabey continues today with Chapter 3. As the nest empties our roles begin to change, and our boundaries can be shifted. Out of Balance, the post which got this series started, began with the need to re-balance; Chapter 1 and Chapter 2: True Motives continued with examples of generous women and our motivation. Today our focus is on the busyness of life and making the necessary changes to play significant roles in our changing lives. What better time of year to discuss generosity vs. busyness than during this busy holiday season? Lois encourages women to recognize the difference between generosity and busyness with this quote:
Setting boundaries, fulfilling specific roles, and being involved in activities are all positive behaviors, but they can get out of balance. If that happens, we don’t need to “toss the baby out with the bath water.” We can make changes to bring those activities back into balance, keeping the positives and moderating the negatives. With awareness and commitment, we can maintain healthy boundaries, shift the focus of our giving when our roles change, and be responsible, involved women who are not exhausted by busyness.”
When I think back now to all the activities our family was involved in during Christmas, I wonder how we did it all. I realize I was 20 years younger, but I’m still scratching my head. Cards to address, visits to Santa with one child who loved him and one crying out of fear of him, pageants and concerts, parties, shopping and wrapping, shopping and cooking, decorating, searching for and replacing blown light bulbs, cleaning up ornaments broken by the cat, travel, more shopping, – all while continuing the everyday tasks of life. How can we make time for generosity when our daily tasks seem so overwhelming?
If we return to the quote from Lois, she has some really good suggestions for setting boundaries.
- Keep the positive activities and moderate the negative.
- Perhaps an overall look at the calendar with the mindset that we will attend events that are mandatory or beneficial to the spiritual, social or educational growth of our family. This would include school activities, family activities and church activities, while we would moderate the ones that are not as important. One example of this: pictures with Santa. My daughter is the child who was terrified of Santa, but it took me several attempts to realize that our future photo albums would not be bare if we skipped this. Those pictures would have been more for me than her anyway, so at about the age of 4, we stopped visiting Santa. I have plenty of fun, happy photos of her and her fear of Santa is now a somewhat comical memory.
It’s easy now of course, to look back and see areas where we could eliminate activities, but what about now that the nest is empty? Let’s explore todays questions and each find our own answers.
1. Describe how you use boundaries in your life to handle busyness. Do you feel they are rigid or flexible? Do you need to establish some new ones?
I can’t say that my boundaries are one or the other. Some are rigid, some are more flexible. I use boundaries to protect the quickly passing time with my family. I realized very early that life was flying by and I wanted to create memories that our family would cherish. My personal generosity usually benefitted someone in my family.
2. What are some ways you can begin to flex your boundaries? Write down your thoughts and meet with God. Ask HIM to fill you with HIS love and confidence to make adjustments in those boundaries. I was led to Luke 6:31…
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
As an empty nester, I recognize that my adult children are at that busy stage of life. My generosity can be something as simple as not expecting more from them than they can do or give. I can offer help and encouragement whenever needed, while setting boundaries that allow for new interests and generosity expressed to those outside of my family.
The next verse that comes to mind is Psalm 19:14:
May these words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
If my generosity is a result of the meditation of my heart being focused on the true Giver, then my boundaries will reflect HIS heart, and HIS love for my fellowman. The results will be far greater than anything I could ever give on my own.
3. Meet with a friend and talk through how to think about and adjust to giving with or without boundaries.
You are that friend.