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Your Tewksbury Today

Calibrating Our Pressure Gauge

Jul 19, 2015 03:15AM ● By Bonnie Lyn Smith

I don’t know about you, but I set many goals for myself this year that were unmet. Partly to blame was the overachiever in me. Also, I have no crystal ball to tell me how my year is going to go, so I wrongly assume I have 18 hours free in every day to accomplish tasks.

I lay my plans out as if I wear a cape and boast superpowers, and then I privately whine to myself (and sometimes to others—okay, often to others) when they don’t happen. Meanwhile, my crazy ambition starts hissing a slow leak all year, and I fold under my unrealistic expectations into a heap of frustration.

If you can relate to this in any way, then this post is for you.

Maybe you don’t feel like you’ve failed work projects, but you regret not having more one-on-one investments in people, especially close loved ones in declining health. Maybe you wish you would have spent more time on home repairs this year, or you wanted to go back to school but didn’t.

At any point in time, whatever we keep busy with, we often feel something else is passing us by:

·      That sale on an item we’ve been saving for

·      That educational pursuit

·      That relationship

·      That new career direction

·      That mission/volunteer opportunity

·      That move/relocation

If you have children, like me, you may feel this on an entirely different level. It’s extra fun to stress on behalf of people for whom we are responsible:

·      Why didn’t I make him get a job this summer?

·      Why did I wait so long to teach them life skills like laundry and paying bills?

·      Why didn’t I play more games and read to them more?

·      Why didn’t I try to get this specialist or that professional for a second opinion?

·      Why did I jump to such quick conclusions?

·      Why didn’t I listen better?

Yeah, it’s safe to say that whispers of failure are always waiting for us around the corner to taunt us with where we could have used our time more wisely, where we are flawed, where we could have disappointed someone.

I know a few things to be true about those murmurs, and it helps me get a better perspective when I remember these:

1.   God is not saying those things. His voice is not one of condemnation. Gentle rebuke, yes. Conviction, sure. But He doesn’t make fun of us, put us down, or make us feel small. If He wants us to work on something or improve in some way, He offers His help and speaks it clearly to our hearts. He doesn’t confuse.

1 Corinthians 14:33, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

2.   Most of the negative statements running through our heads don’t have much truth to them, and they aren’t really the voice of anyone but the enemy of our soul, whose mission it is to make us feel like losers 100 percent of the time. The recording that is constantly rewinding and replaying in our minds? Completely fueled by our own insecurities.

3.   We aren’t God, and we have no way of doing all of the things on our to-do list. If we do five items, then five other items don’t get done.

After I published a book last Fall, I felt I could take on the world! I was not a huge name out there, but this was significant achievement for me. During my book launch, I learned so much about the vast world of social media, building platform, time management, the publishing industry, etc. I planned to start my own publishing house, blog regularly, write my weekly column, research other sectors of the industry, keep up with social media, moderate a Christian blogging group, and publish more of my own books as well as those of my clients.

That’s so remarkable, isn’t it? Sound like an amazing list? All that on top of all mom duties and home management!

Well, I didn’t know my difficult year of advocacy, therapy, medical appointments, assessments, tests, health history paperwork, and home care for one of my children wasn’t over. We had only come through Part 1. Part 2 incrementally added to our ongoing list of driving in many directions, keeping a complex-and-very-full calendar, managing a child’s wellness at home, and trying new supplements and therapies.

My personal goals? I managed to start or maintain a few of them, but they were constantly squeezed into 45 minutes here or there outside the karate dojo, in the parking lot of the dance studio, or in the waiting room of an appointment, all shoved between meal preparation and laundry.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining. I’m sure we’ve all had weeks/months/seasons of life like this from unexpected diagnoses, moves, job changes, etc. These are the ebbs and flows of life.

For me personally, this year was more or less an effective lesson in Proverbs 16:9.

Proverbs 16:9, ESV, Solomon speaking

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

It was the best case of Proverbs 16:9 I’ve had to date.


Because it helped me calibrate my pressure gauge (once I was cooperative and humble). And in this case, Proverbs 16:9 ushered in relief and rest.

Nothing I plan really matters. It’s okay that I have big dreams. God loves those.

The Proverb clearly states we are going to plan. In the end, however, God accomplishes His purposes. 

If we yield to Him, we will never miss out on this, and ultimately, 

we cannot fail

When we do it in our own strength, we miss the entire point. When we accept that He establishes our steps, then whatever kind of year we are handed, there is peace to be found along the way.

I can almost curl up inside that promise, all cozy, and take a nap. How about you?

Where do you need to calibrate your “pressure” (goals and expectations) gauge to God’s promises? 

I promise you will find tremendous peace when you realize that 

you do the trusting

but He does the heavy lifting.


Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.

Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.



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