If you are the kind of woman who feels like you have more to do than is humanly possible, then I am here to reassure you that you are not alone. You are not even weird! It is often the case that although we can feel truly grateful that God has kindly given us a whole lot of responsibility, we can still be slightly (or vastly) overwhelmed at how we are going to be faithful over it all.

Apparently God wants us to be needy people, because He delights in giving us more grace. He is a bountiful Father, bestowing on and enabling His people to do what He calls them to do. Remembering this helps us keep our perspective when we start to feel overwhelmed and understaffed.

For example, a young mother with several children can feel like she needs another set of hands (to put it mildly). But for some reason, God has only equipped her with two. So, she should not refuse to use the two she has because she needs four. But she ought to see that God must not intend for her to do more than she is physically able to do. She has limits! This ought to be a comfort.

This is rather like the parable of the talents. If we use the two we have wisely, we will reap a bountiful harvest. In other words, we work like the dickens and ask God to bless it, knowing that there is still lots to do and many things we have left undone.

But, like I said, it is good to be needy. It reminds us that we are human. It gives us compassion toward others who are needy. And God uses the community to minister to one another. Sometimes the need may be met by a friend who wants to help. It may be a mother, a grandma, a neighbor, a teenager. Or, it may be there really is no one to help. This is an opportunity to trust the Lord.

So we need to learn how to adjust to what our capacity really is and thank God that we are finite. His grace really is sufficient, but if we never had cause to need it, we would lose the benefit of experiencing it. Sometimes this grace teaches us to sort out the important from the unimportant. Could be that you have to throw away your to-do list because something urgent has interfered. You may realize your daughter needs to talk, though you had some other things you “needed” to do right then. Wisdom instructs us to make choices all day long, and we want to choose well.

Sometimes I have seen women hit the wall. They feel frustrated by all they have to do, and they feel like giving up. I suggest an alternative. Dump the backpack out on the table and take a look at the burden you have been carrying. Ask your husband to help you, or if you are unmarried, ask a friend or a parent to help you sort things out. What is really essential? What can be removed? And how can you get help to do the things that are still necessary?

Consider what help is available and what you can afford. Do you need a babysitter, a mother’s helper, a house cleaner, a tutor? Can someone else be paid to help with the business? It is much better to recognize our limits and get some help before we collapse under the weight. And sometimes pride keeps us from admitting that we need help.

Many of our duties are legitimate, obviously. And it can require much labor to do the bare minimum. But some duties may be imaginary. Who told you that you had to have your Christmas cards addressed and stamped by Thanksgiving? Or that you had to make quilts for all the relatives? Who is insisting that you volunteer for every cause?

I remember deciding that I just could not babysit for friends anymore. Life was just too full. And there was the time I put the sewing machine away for a few months when my kids were little, because it distracted me away from my more important duties. And when the kids were small, I decided not to read fiction for a while because it was too hard to put it down when I needed to start fixing dinner, so I saved the fiction for times set aside for relaxation. (Non fiction did not present the same temptation!)

God wants us to do our duties cheerfully, working hard to His glory and for our good. Being tired is not a sin. We don’t want to be workaholics who never sit down to flip through a magazine; nor do we want to be couch potatoes, letting the whirl around us take its own course, unguided and without oversight.

But I see more women who are doing too much than I see women doing too little. I think we need to be realistic about our responsibilities and abilities, and then do what God has given us to do, counting on Him to enable us to do it. Once we have sorted things out this way, we still have great need for His strength day to day to exercise a godly stewardship over the good things He has given us to do.

So let’s all be grateful that He only gave us two hands. We are limited by only having two. What a blessing that is! And we have tremendous opportunity to use them well. It really is amazing what two hands can do.

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17 thoughts on “Two Hands

  1. Thank you for posting. You are an encouragement to us all. I enjoyed the beach pictures..thanks for sharing with us! (I always enjoy the pics!) I look forward to each new post at femina. Thanks, to all of you!

  2. Nancy, I am crying. I just finished this post. Thank you, Lord, for providence and using Nancy!

    I have been “okay” the last three weeks, but today I almost collapsed. I am typing this as I nurse my 3 week-old son. My older three (ages 4, 3, and almost 2!) almost did me in today before lunch. I kept feeling the Holy Spirit call out to me, “You’re not giving them grace!” and my sinful, angry heart saying back, “There is no grace for them today for how terrible they are being!”

    So awful! I knew the thoughts were wrong when I was having them, but I just couldn’t let go. I wanted to stay angry with all of them for their constant disobedience. As we sat at the dining room table after lunch (I just made them sit there with me for 30 minutes while I tried to write some stuff down and get it together), my son said, “Mommy, we just want to be with you. Don’t be angry.”

    I wish I had a happy ending to “today’s story” for me…. but right now I’m so tired. My body is tired, and I really appreciate your words of truth and encouragement. Thank you.

  3. Thank you so much! This is just what I needed to hear as I am starting to prepare for Junior Year! Wonderful advice from my wonderful aunt!

  4. This is such a good reminder. With two under two, a small business to dismantle, another small business to help run and a huge reading project not to mention a household to run…I really needed to hear this.

  5. Thank you for your honesty. Sometimes, it does feel like too much to do all that I feel the Lord is asking me to do. I have to keep seeking him and his wisdom and I know he will guide me to the right place. Only problem is, when I get busy and overwhelmed, I have a tendency to forget to look to the all-wise creator of me and the rest of the universe for help. Pray that I can remember to keep seeking Him…

  6. I wish I had understood this better when my household was like Kristi’s above. But those days that she describes are a great training ground for us to learn to lean on Christ. When we come in prayer asking for grace when our two hands aren’t sufficient to the task, we always are blessed.
    I now have big kids and small ones and aging parents who need care, and I often feel overwhelmed by it. But whenever I pray for grace, it is given to me. That is just an overwhelming gift…and I am so thankful for a saviour who cares for me when I am weak.

  7. Often, when I inform my children of a task at hand for them, they will inquire as to the size of the load. My response is usually, “It’s just the right amount for you today.” And as I say it to them, I hear my heavenly Father reminding me of the very same thing. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I’m the one who makes things heavy and oppressive by either trying to accomplish super-human feats or by doing the basics with a self-centered focus. I am so thankful God continues to use my five small children and me for each other’s sanctification.

  8. Nancy, What a good post. Grace is the one thing He freely hands me on a silver platter, and I am so thankful for it. I’m sure I would be locked up somewhere if I did not have His love and grace.

  9. Amen to Missy’s post about our feeling overwhelmed causing us to lean on Christ. When I had my first two babies I felt completely overwhelmed, and my husband would always remind me that it was good to be at the Lord’s feet, that as I learned to cling to Him in the difficult times I would remember to cling to Him in the easy ones too. He was right. It’s amazing how much easier having four is now, because the Lord has strengthened me for the work!

    But I don’t think I would have made it through without others to help me through my crisis points either. It has taught me to “encourage others with the encouragement we have been given.” Just this morning my 7-year old offered to spend the day helping my sister, who just had her second baby and is as overwhelmed as I was at that stage. My sister was our “live in nanny” when our 7-year old was a medically fragile infant, and now even our daughter’s two small hands can give back that grace immeasurable.

  10. It’s good to be needy….to be empty….

    I recently, in a cloud of despair over my to-do list with a deadline, had a friend help me prioritize. Just sharing the details somehow made it more managable, and she helped me get going on what mattered.

  11. I know what you say is true. Sometimes I wonder why God always seems to put more on us than we think we can handle, but you’re right – it does make us grow in grace. I wonder also why God always seems to bring us right up to the edge of the Red Sea with Egyptians behind us before He delivers us. Or why He did what He did to Christ in the garden of Gethsemane. There’s more going on here than I can understand, but do you think maybe it has something to do with death before resurrection?

    Thank you for your lovely, steady encouragement.

  12. I am sitting here this morning knowing that i need to make some changes and reading this post is quite encouraging. I have been spending my time doing too many no-so-important things and I find myself feeling empty. Time to get back to priority things and let the others go. It is good that God only lets us do so much. It helps us to realize that some things are worth investing in more than others.

  13. Mrs. Wilson,

    A very good post. However, with me, you would need to back up. What I mean is, I struggle that I even need grace in the first place! I’m too self-confident and too self-reliant. I think God is sitting in his heaven wondering what’s taking me so long to accomplish my to-do list. I know that’s wrong!

    What should my thinking be when I’m too reliant on my own energy and strength and rarely consider that it’s only God’s grace that gets me through each day?

    Thanks again for your post.

  14. Love the practical advise thrown in there! I often say yes when I should say no, sometimes leading me to a grumpy sinful heart. I’ll take this advise next time I’m temped to think “Oh I’m sure I can squeeze that project in somewhere…” Blessings!

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