Does the name Stretch Armstrong ring a bell with any of you former procrastinators? Stretch came to our house as a gift to our son. He was a muscular looking figure about 15 inches high, blond, tan and had a big grin on his face. His arms extended straight out to each side.
Stretch had a special ability – to stretch. One person on each side pulling hard, and Stretch’s arms would e-x-t-e-n-d out. His legs would go-o-o-o so-o-o-o far. Four people pulling on this guy and he just went with it. Pretty amazing.
All the while Stretch kept grinning that toothy smile. His face never contorted. His nonexistent heart and brain never struggled over which direction he should go. He never shed a tear or shouted “Stop! I can’t give any more!” Just smilin’ and stretchin.’
I’ll bet you’ve been treated like Stretch Armstrong, or felt like you were. I have and I can tell you just smiling about it is not how I feel. Even if only one limb gets stretched, I feel out of kilter.
That’s how it feels when priorities conflict. Stretched between parents and children? Husband and job? Multiple children? Two or more things of genuine importance demand attention at the same time, and we don’t have the capacity or resources to meet the demands. We’re s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d. God knows and cares for everybody involved. We have to make choices and He will guide.
Though we want to return to “normal” as soon as we can, often we must adapt long term. It’s helpful to remember our frame is dust and respect our need for rest or we serve others poorly. We can seek counsel and ask the following questions.
Am I the only one who can do this? Can I say no or take on just a portion? Can I be part of a team? Who can I enlist? What are the essential needs in each part of the situation? How can I keep some priority routine things going while meeting these needs? Is there a way I can incorporate this need into our routine? Is there a way I can include family members so we learn together? Who would be willing to help me whack alligators at my house during this time?
Recently a friend told me, ”I’ve figured out who I am. I’m Mrs. Incredible. I flex and extend.” We get it. For more thoughts see Priority vs. Priority September 12, 2017.
There’s one way we have it all over Stretch. He was sweet inside – filled with a form of sugar. We, however, are filled with the Holy Spirit whose sweetness is greater. He is light and love. He shows us who, when, how, where to serve. He enables us to stretch and give. He supplies the wisdom to go with pressure. He prompts us when to give and when to pull back. He is the source of a genuine smile while stretching.
How can you adapt to conflicting priorities?