May 10, 2017

Shifting from the Kitchen to the Living Room by Sharon Espeseth

Getting out of the kitchen

Jesus statement struck close to me.

Like Martha, I've spent a lot of time in the kitchen of my life. I still cook, clean and help those around me, but I am spending more time for the living room. I can still love and serve beside Martha, but I now strive to relax, read, learn, play, spend time with my family and also  at Jesus' feet. Mary is already in the living room adoring Jesus.

Being a perfectionist, I empathized with Martha. I felt for her when Jesus said, "Martha, you are bothered about many things. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken away from her."

Comfortable or exhausted?

Striving to be the model homemaker, mother and wife, plus being a dedicated teacher, Christian, parishioner, daughter, sister, and friend was exhausting. I was so used to operating  on all eight cylinders that it seemed normal. How would I keep up if I slowed down?

In the mid nineties, my over-achieving efforts brought me to a halt. Knowing my life was wobbling like a table with a short leg, I began seeing a counsellor. Still l limped on in the classroom and at home without giving myself the attention I needed.

By mid-February, I had a total breakdown. My family doctor and my psychologist put me on anti-depressants and booked me off work. I didn't return to teaching until September.

When comfort zones become uncomfortable

This book was a life-changer for me.
Changing my ways became crucial. Counselling sessions, meds, journalling, long walks, listening more carefully to my husband's advice, praying, reading my Bible and other good books became the new order of my day.

In the Bible we are reminded often to seek rest. "Come to me, all you who are weary," Jesus tells us.  The Lord invites us to share the yoke with him. He will even make us lie down in green pastures.

Recent struggles

Recently while struggling to finish the jobs I had piled up in my kitchen, I felt God nudging me to unload some of it, but I had excuses.

I had co-led a church committee for more than a decade, but now I felt prompted to let this go. I could feel God showing me the way, but I couldn't let go of it without tidying the details. Not feeling up to the task, I "sat" on it.

God delivers his message

While  driving to the city in late March, the Norwegian and I observed the signs of spring. While
Hank drove, I watched a long string of geese flying beside us. Craning my neck as far as possible, I said, "I wonder why they aren't getting into V-formation." Just when my neck could turn no further, I saw a few front geese break the line. Knowing they were going to manage without my supervision, I turned my attention back to my journal writing.

Canada geese deliver message

Epiphany. That's what I need to do with my committee position. When we got home that evening, I phoned the friend I'd been planning to ask about my committee job. Without hesitation, Theresa agreed. I explained that certain details needed updating, but that I didn't feel up to doing it.

"That's okay, Theresa said." She didn't type, but she would ask the church secretary to do that. I felt like a heavy chunk of ice had slid off my shoulder. "Did God already have this lady lined up for the job?"

With one less responsibility, I hope to spend more time resting in green pastures, talking things over with God, and writing.

The geese incident had shown me how prideful I was not to pass on this job unless it was in perfect shape. Just as I knew the geese would manage on their own, I realized that Theresa, whose name God had whispered in my ear, would manage this job without my help.

What about comfort zones?

I love what you are saying, Sandi Somers: that God created each of us in a particular way and for a particular purpose. We are called to spread the gospel. We can do this through our writing, our living and our loving.

The Father also knows our limits.

I may never write the next great Canadian novel or set the world on fire spiritually, but I will do the best I can with the time I have left. I appreciate this quote by C. S. Lewis.

"God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them." 

This then reminds me of Paul's words to the Christians in Ephesus.

"For by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God--not of works, so that no one can boast.
Setting my priorities

When it gets too hot in the kitchen, I can move to the living room. I will do the best I can each day in evsetting my priorities. You may remember the video, A Valuable Lesson for a Happier Life by Meir Kay. With minor changes, I could mentally rename this video A Valuable Lesson for a More Faith-filled Life.


For me, the golf balls would still represent the important things: family, friends, health, faith and passions. I added faith to Mr. Kay's list, as that would be, or at least should be, my biggest passion. Writing is inferred as another big passion.

Put the golf balls in first.

For new comfort zones in writing, the genre doesn't matter as much as the fact that I write. I do, however, need to write and submit more for publication, even when I am timid about doing this.

I can do this from the living room, our deck, or the boat launch at the lake. I just need to honour the golf balls in my life.


  1. Thanks for sharing your struggles, Sharon; I know many can relate to the problem of busyness and having too many irons in the fire. It is good to step back so we can focus on what's really important.

    I love that quote by C.S. Lewis; definitely adding it to my collection of favourites!

  2. That golf ball analogy is a powerful one.

  3. Thank you, Sharon. And I love, Love, LOVE your big beach hat. 😊

  4. Thanks,my writing friends, for your comments letting you know what struck you in my blog. I am chuckling at their range--from this new or rediscovered quote from C.S. Lewis, to the power of the golf ball analogy, to my wide-brimmed hat. Delightul. Thanksl.

  5. maureen fiebich11:08 am GMT-7

    I always say "to everything there is a season". We all need to step back. When things pile up it is so important to set new priorities and let a few things go.

  6. Thanks, Maureen I have learned this the hard way, and I'm still learning and growing in faith. I hope and pray that by sharing our stories, we will head others off at the pass--before they also travel down the trail that leads to nowhere good.

  7. Sharon,
    Thanks for sharing so openly and honestly about your desire to follow God and your struggle to do so. I can relate to so many things from your post. Thank you for being a blessing in my life!

  8. As you are a blessing to me as well, Ruth. Thank you.

  9. Thanks for sharing your life story, Sharon. Your kitchen/living room and geese metaphors were very, meaningful to me. There's a time to get out of our busyness and sit at Jesus' feet, and there's a time to break rank in leaderhip and let others develop their skills.

  10. It's interesting to me how the simplest things from nature can drive home a powerful lesson. Yes, the geese helped me "break rank." Well said, Sandi.

  11. Our lives seem so much easier when we learn to get our priorities right. Your quote from Luke 10:41-42 is one of my favourites, also, and one that I often remind myself of when I start feeling overwhelmed. The metaphors helped drive your message home. Your golf ball analogy provides an excellent example of how important it is to address what's most needed first and then just let the pebbles fall in as they may.

  12. I'm glad you found the metaphors helpful, Nina. Literative and visual images do help me remember certain points.

  13. I love your story about the geese and how they would manage without your supervision! Ha ha. But you are so right - sometimes I have a hard time letting to, too, but I have to remember that God may already have somebody else lined up for the job. I love the C.S. Lewis quote too and how God knows about our struggles. Thank you Sharon!


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