I recently ran across two articles written by Joanna and Chip Gaines, and they made me think. Whenever I watched an episode of their popular TV show “Fixer-Upper,” I was amazed at how many irons that young couple had in the fire. I often asked myself, How do they do it all?! When do they relax?
Then, when I learned that they were ending their TV show, I thought, They’ve finally realized that they’re too busy. But no, they were merely shifting gears, taking one or two irons out of the fire and replacing them with others.
Joanna’s article revealed that her life actually thrives on simplicity. But that simplicity requires intentionality–purposeful focusing–or what she calls “living an edited life.” It is not the relaxation of doing nothing but of prioritizing and organizing to live an orderly and productive life.
Sometimes we find ourselves overburdened not by what others place upon us so much as what we put upon and expect of ourselves. We have to learn that we don’t have to “do it all” because God doesn’t expect us to do it all, and certainly not by ourselves. Joanna Gaines confessed, “[T]here’s nothing quite like the feeling of a lighter load, particularly when you can see in hindsight that you were never meant to carry all that stuff anyway.”
But she went on to say that reaching that point was not a one-time deal. Rather, it was a decision that had to be made “day-by-day, moment-by-moment,” because once it’s made, it repeatedly will be challenged as things come up, demanding our attention. Then we must make the decision again.
Having been an editor for more than fourteen years and having worked extensively with editors of my own writing for even longer, I can relate to her phrase “living an edited life.” Editing has its own demands, not the least of which are imposed deadlines. Some deadlines are well-scheduled so that an editor has the leisure to do a thorough job. Other deadlines (most, my experience has been) are tight, sometimes even unreasonable. In such instances, all the editor has time for is a “quick and dirty,” correct the basics, the most egregious errors.
Editing involves a lot of deleting. Word-count limitations and instances of verbosity, redundancies, and needless repetition demand it. And it’s not always an easy decision to determine what must be eliminated or deleted. But it must be done if the writing is to be precise, succinct, coherent, and orderly.
I think that’s what Joanna Gaines meant by “living an edited life.” We just have to bite the bullet and decide what must be cut from our busy, overburdened lives if we are to be able to relax and do our best at the tasks that absolutely, positively must be done.
The resulting less-cluttered life will leave room and time for the things that truly matter. And that’s what Chip Gaines’s article dealt with.
He revealed that he’s up at 4:00 a.m. (I can hear some of you groaning because you don’t even know what 4:00 a.m. looks like–except dark.) He does so because he’s not only a fixer-upper but also a farmer (or I guess in Texas he’s a rancher), and farmers know that they can get a lot more done with the animals early in the morning. It’s also quieter and cooler.
Chip admits that 4:00 a.m. is early and that the work is hard. But then he reveals the side benefits that sluggards and sleepy heads miss out on. He sees the stars brighter then against the sky ate its darkest. And “when I’m up before the world has woken . . . I have space to think and time to wrestle through life’s complexities.”
I need sleep as much as the next guy (increasingly so as I age), but I must say that Chip’s absolutely right. Although I’m lazier than Mr. Gaines, not rising before 4:45 a.m. (unless I encounter one of my insomnia nights), i’m up long before many other people. And although I don’t milk cows or goats or feed pigs at that hour (I don’t even have a dog to take outside), I do take advantage of the quiet in the house to read and meditate on God’s Word, coffee mug in hand, and prepare my mind for the day ahead.
As I plan, I sometimes realize that I won’t be able to get everything done to the level of quality I’d like, so I have to do some editing. I delete some things from the to-do list. I move other things to later in the week or even to the following week. And sometimes I decide that with some things that must be done, I will have to bite that bullet and content myself with a “quick and dirty.”
In the end, living an edited life turns our alright–assuming that you’ve edited according to the right priorities.
How about you? I’d be interested in knowing how you go about “editing” your life so that you achieve what must be done and still have leisure to enjoy the bright stars in the dark sky. What benefits have you discovered? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson