Juggling act

I think there might actually be too many good things you can be involved with at uni.

One of my biggest struggles and greatest areas of learning whilst I was a student, was how to manage my time effectively. And by effectively, I don’t mean see how many things I could cram in to every day in order to do the maximum amount possible. I don’t want to learn to juggle the most balls, like some kind of astounding circus trick

If we say yes to every good thing on offer, if we pick up every brightly coloured shiny juggling ball we come across, there comes a point where we can’t do anything any more. Our hands are full, our arms are tired, we need to sit down and the applause of the onlookers who watched our juggling act for so long, now seems like pressure and expectation, not encouragement.

Somewhere along the line we believed that we needed to be brilliant jugglers.  

Perhaps the list is already forming in your mind of roles you’ve taken, projects you’re working on, teams you play for, societies you’ve committed to, leadership positions that seemed like a good idea at the time. Let alone the hours of study that need to be prioritised day by day, week by week. Up go the bright juggling balls, spinning in the air, the crowd stand back amazed as your arms work their magic.

But all the while things just feel full. Jesus says in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” He’s talking about living a life of fulness here.... not a full life. Subtle difference, massive consequence.

I’m learning to say no to good things. I’m learning to say no to great people. I’m learning to deliberately book in time to relax with people who give me energy and life, not just agree to meet with those friends who ask, because they “need” something from me. Doesn’t mean I  don’t love them. Doesn’t mean I don’t care for others. It does mean I stop this tiring juggling act, I put down all the stuff and pick up God-first. I learnt to rest with him and in him, and from that place of rest, I find my focus and priorities are easier to see and act upon. 

I did football and theatre and led student stuff at church. I hung out with my amazing housemates, my brilliant course mates. I spent time with church families and local people I randomly met. I got a 2.1 and enjoyed it. My university days were not focused on one hobby, one activity, one friendship group. But, on the days I’d cry in my room because I had nothing left to give my friends but still I felt in demand, on the days I was over-whelmed by the to-do list I drew up that morning, I knew the juggling act was not worth the applause. 

Get a friend to ask you what your to-do list is and talk through with them what is or isn’t actually yours to carry. Sit with God, write out what your juggling balls are and listen for his response to each thing. Go to your leaders, those God has placed around you to support you and have the courage to ask for help. I speak as one who learnt this the hard way, is still learning this now, but cannot deny how vital it is to get it sorted early on. 

We were not made for a full life, but life in all it’s fullness. No more juggling act.

Miriam Swanson

Global Student Mission Leader

Miriam helps equip the church for student mission internationally. She's based in the USA and hungry to see young adults follow Jesus with all of who they are. 

Partner with Miriam