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Everything to Everyone

Nearly every Sunday, I leave church feeling invigorated, excited, full of hope and optimism, and ready to share that with the world. Not today. Today I left feeling confused and questioning so many things about myself and God's will for me. In today's message, our pastor said many of us try to be "everything to everyone."

While he didn't say, "Mary Bell, you try to be everything to everyone," I felt eyes boring into me and turned to see my family glancing my way, wondering if I got it. Chloe gave me a little head tilt, and I whispered, "That's me, huh?" Smiling sympathetically--she has unwittingly been the subject of a sermon or two--she nodded.

He further illustrated his point by having a young man stand in front of our congregation while he tossed him water bottles. His arms full of water bottles symbolizing family obligations, work, volunteering, friendships, and more, he was unable to catch the big playground ball symbolizing God's will when it came to him. Oh my...that is me. My arms are always full of water bottles.

"Yes, I can watch your kids." "Yes, I will volunteer for that." "Yes, I can take you there." "Yes, I will proofread that for you." "Yes, I will help you with that." "Yes, I have a minute to listen to you. I have all the minutes you need." "Yes, I will be on that committee." "Yes, I will write that." "Yes, I will go with you." "Yes, I will sit with you." "Yes, I will call that person." Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

On the way home, I said to Brad, "I think I am that person with all the water bottles." He laughed out loud and said, "You don't say!" I was a little surprised by his immediate confirmation of my suspicions. He didn't even try to make me feel better. Brad Bell is not an enabler.

I thought that was God's will for me. I thought by saying yes to nearly everything anyone asked of me, I was serving God. I thought that by being so many people's "person," I was doing what God wanted me to do. Not that I asked. I do always ask Him to put me where He wants me to be. But now I wonder if my arms are so full of water bottles that I am missing the big playground ball. I wonder if God puts me where He wants me to be, but I'm so distracted doing I miss why I'm really there.

Once, our pastor said that as long as we are changing, we will always be outside of our comfort zone. Am I? Sure I take little steps outside of it, but am I living outside of my comfort zone? Am I changing? Or am I just filling my life up with good things while missing out on something great?

Today, I am outside of my comfort zone. Today, I am feeling very uncomfortable. Today, I don't have an answer to any of these questions, and my stomach and mind are in turmoil. Thanks to a good client with a great product, I can quiet my stomach for awhile. My mind, however, will continue to churn.


  1. Reminding me very much of "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Even mentioning it feels like throwing another water bottle at you, which seems like a very bad idea indeed. I'm tempted to pull quotes, or to offer to e-mail you my "quote for the day" when I'm reading it, but I'm afraid that they're only minimally useful when presented that way. I'll think on it. My brother shared a quote with me once ... something along the lines of "Saying yes to more than you can actually be present for is in effect saying no to some of the things to which you have said yes." I think I may have told you that I had to visit two bookstores before I was able to get my copy of "Boundaries," and that each time the person at the help desk knew immediately which book I was talking about and led me straight to its place on the shelf. (Course, once they were out, but that isn't the point.) Being the Nancy Drew that I am, I concluded that it must be a frequently requested book. Rethinking when to say yes and when to say no....there seem to be a lot of us doing that.

  2. I thought a lot about you my friend, queen of juggling water bottles, and your Boundaries book and your notes. I never really thought of myself as a person, who said yes too much or had an issue saying no. Alas, I was wrong.


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