“It’ll be an hour and a half wait,” the hostess at one of my favorite restaurants said as she shuffled through a stack of receipts. “Our computers are down right now.” In a huff, I walked past a room full of empty tables and out of that restaurant, unable to understand exactly what computers had to do with me being able to eat at said restaurant.
I decided to be overly intrusive and call the restaurant from the car on my way home, wondering if she just hadn’t wanted me to eat there (as if this hostess who I had never seen before had some unknown vendetta against me!). That same hostess picked up the phone, and I asked how long the wait would be: “About an hour and a half, our computers are down right now.” Out of genuine curiosity (okay, maybe a little out of frustration), I asked what computers had to do with the wait time, and the hostess said, “our servers just don’t have enough bandwidth without our computers to take part of the burden.”
Oh, I thought to myself. That, I understand.
I started feeling guilty for being upset, because I know how that feels. To be stretched beyond my capacity, to know my limits but to breeze past them onward in the name of “hustle,” and to have to turn people away, not because I don’t want to give them what I have to offer, but because I want to be able to serve the people I can serve with everything I have to offer.
Sure, that restaurant could’ve taken me and my friends in – but what would they have given me in return? Maybe the service would’ve been slow, the food cold, the waitress flustered, and I would’ve left with a bad taste in my mouth, ruining the restaurant for me for good. Or, the hostess could simply let me know that they just couldn’t handle any more guests to ensure that they could serve the guests they had already taken in to the best of their abilities.
That’s been one of my biggest lessons from this year: margin and bandwidth. Leaving room in my schedule instead of packing it full, and taking note of how much I can handle. Every season, I find myself coming to a crossroads. Do I take more work, or do I limit my work to ensure I can serve every person I commit to to the very best of my ability? This is the very first year that I’ve really tried to limit the amount of work I take per week, and I really believe it’s served me well. Why? Because when I don’t overbook myself, I can say yes to things that make me better as a person – not just things that make me look better in the eyes of other people. Things that make me a better wife, a better business owner, a better Jesus follower, a better daughter, and a better friend. I’ve found that I can’t serve ANYONE well if I’m overworked, exhausted, and overwhelmed. I lose my edge as a business owner, become an absent wife, a pitiful friend, and an unengaged Christ-follower. Did I still struggle to set boundaries this year? Heck YES. But really, I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and of the boundaries that I’ve been able to establish between my business and my life.
Really, I’ve started taking a limited amount of sessions and weddings because I find that it benefits my clients. I can give each more time, attention, and creativity when I bring a rested Jenna to the table – which is much better for everyone! ;) So I’d like to encourage you – if you’re in a season of busy, what boundaries can you make to make SURE you get the “recharge” you need to keep moving forward?