A "yes" one is a "no" to another... • 12 min read
TL;DR - In the past few months, the author [Cam] has experienced many significant events, including the birth of their child, starting a new job, and dealing with health issues. They have realized the importance of setting boundaries and prioritizing their family and personal well-being over taking on too many commitments. (ChatGPT)
It's been a wild ride these past few months, or probably quarter of a year. I have a tendency to go fast, do a lot, and then watch life fly by me.
This writing will not be super well formatted, but rather it's a thought dump that I've needed to organize on paper recently.
Here's been some of the things I've been up to since August, 2023:
- Hannah and I had our first baby, sweet Bennett Pak. He's 5 months old and is a joy. Bennett's name means "blessed," and we are blessed to get to love him.
- Started a new job at OurTechnology to help bring restoration and freedom to the homeless through Jesus and community, using technology. It's an honor to work there as a Fullstack Design Engineer.
- And starting the new job, I said goodbye to my old job at YouVersion of ~5 years. That was hard, even though I know it was the right and best decision for to fully utilize my God-given and trained skills and talents to continue to serve God and others through my occupation. There was stresses of saying goodbye to everyone and wondering if people thought that I had left to run away from something versus running to something. I love where I'm at now, and I loved my time at YouVersion.
- Asked Kieran L. from Malachi Daily, a simple, community-based scripture memorization tool, if I could help them create an app to handle notifications versus the expensive route they had to abandon of sending text messages of the verse daily and removing a few words at a time. It was a blast being able to create the app and learn how to design and code for mobile. Get the app here
- Baby Bennett got sick from RSV, a potentially deadly virus for kids. And he got it like in his second month of life. It was so sad to see him not smiling or laughing as much. Eventually he healed on strong and well, but having a sick kiddo is scary.
- My mom came and stayed with us for a week from Washington. It was good seeing her, and it was stressful trying to coordinate sibling hangouts and live with another person for a week (albiet, it's an honor to host my mom and I hope she felt loved).
- Created the landing page website for OurTechnology and started working on the mobile app to replace/upgrade the existing OurCalling Homeless Services app. Think of Google Maps for homeless resources.
- The holidays came. Lots of family time. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Lots of Christmas events. Family is sweet and overwhelming at times, haha. It can be both!
- Drove to Dallas a few times to work in person at OurTechnology. I love going down there and hanging with Justin, my boss and friend.
- Started to get sick again. A flareup of health issues that couldn't go down. Rarely anything helped. Aches all throughout my back and especially spine. Brain fog that left me having troubles at work and at life in general. Stomach pains and my body rejecting food, even if I've eaten the same meal hundreds of times.
- Wrapped up some small work for 24-7 Prayer USA by adding a banner to the top of the page of the current community praying for the Year of Unbroken Prayer, a year-long prayer session spanning 52 weeks, where one community commits to an entire week to pray. It's a beautiful campaign. It's a beautiful union.
- Started working on a freelance project for GodListens.com to help them revamp the landing page (soon to be released, but can be previewed here). This is a tool enabling commnities to come together for prayer and to pray for one another. Getting to know Tyler and Carrie has been sweet.
- Throughout all of these events, I'm having video calls at lunch to connect with folks and friends from Faith + Tech Twitter. I love the people I've met and how encouraging it is to see those who love digital arts of technology and deeply love God and others.
- Did some major updates to Melos.Church so that churches can have a free website without questions, money, or them having to be an expert in web development or design. Been learning how to market the tool. And, Melos won #1 tool of the week by DevHunt.org!
- More and more stress is arising, as I start to feel overwhelmed by the amount of things I'm trying to manage, alongside having the overwhelm of my health declining day after day... and not getting any better.
- Had to miss my best friend from college's bachelor party due to sickness. I hated missing that.
- Throughout all of this, my wife and I are leading our LifeGroup (a small group from our church family who meets weekly to talk about the message from church and about life together).
- My dad asked me if I could create a website for a doctor in my hometown. The requirements seemed easy, so I said "yes."
So yeah, I did lots of things. And almost all of those things were exhilerating and fun to step into. I became a better developer because of this. I grew in love for my baby Bennett and for Hannah, seeing her step into motherly mode. It's beautful beyond words. I met some of the coolest people online who love Jesus and love building software, which is so odd that I didn't know this many people existed until after being at YouVersion. I for some reason felt like the community of those in faith and tech was small, but I was wrong, and I'm happy I was wrong. I got to meet Justin from OurTechnology, and that relationship transformed my life. I'm now back as a developer and designer. When I gave up development in the past for design, I didn't know if I'd ever be able to go back. And, it's so cool to come back to dev-landia and be ready more than ever.
One thing you may or may not know about me is that I have ADHD. Didn't know about that til I was an adult, but always had a small feeling. Growing up, decision-making and focusing were some of the hardest things to do, unless it was math or skateboarding. I loved math and skateboarding, haha. One thing about having ADHD is that executive function, managing thoughts and actions, is difficult. It's easy for me to say "yes" to something because it's a genuine interest of mine or because I care about the person and feel a sense of responsibility to take on.
Luke 14:28 says, "for which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?"
Me. I do not sit down and count the cost. I just do. I get an idea and go down a large rabbit trail way before asking the question, "is this idea worth pursuing?" I am naturally driven by shiny, fun, and new. If you know me, you know that, haha.
Oddly enough, I'm rarely thinking about the future. I'm often in the past or just here, now. Here, now, is my favorite place to be. I make decisions and process information based on what I can see, feel, touch, smell, etc. (i.e. the very tangibles of life). It's an ISFJ thing. (short distraction break while writing...) I just read through the weaknesses of an ISFJ, and man it's sad how true that is to me.
ISFJs are so concerned with other people’s feelings that they may refuse to make their thoughts known or to take any duly earned credit for their contributions. (source: 16Personalities.com)
That's me. I have been learning to set better boundaries and learn to communicate my needs. My wife has been wonderful in helping me see these blindspots. Thankful for her and tools like the Myer's Briggs personality test to help me find freedoms and learn more about how I'm wired.
It's easy for me to say "yes" without counting the cost. Usually what happens is that I have the skillset to help and the heart to help, so I say yes because I know I can do something to make things better or improve someone's life. What I don't do is check and see my available time to commit to things as well as consider the life-cost adding on something new will accrue to my life.
Every "yes" to something is a "no" to many other somethings... (unknown)
People praise me and the work I do, but being wired as an ISFJ, it's so hard to receive. That's something God is working on in me. I don't do what I do for money; in fact I don't need the money. God has given us all we need and more. Money sometimes makes things messy. But, I don't realize how volunteering my time across a wide variety of areas is causing me to say "no" to more time with family. It's causing me to say "no" to free time to go to the gym or to cook and focus on my health (more on my health in a minute). It's causing me to use every amount of free-time trying to wrap up a project and neglect cleaning my house. It's causing me to want to reach for my computer more than reach for my child who has his arms up and towards me and pick him up.
I didn't realize any of this was a problem. I didn't realize that you can be doing a lot of things that seem good and come from a good heart, but in the end be doing harm because it hurt my physical health, hurt my household by accidentally stealing time away from them, hurt my ability to focus on the things that matter the most, and hurt my mental health by increasing stress and anxiety slowly and surely, as if I was a frog in a pot of water going up degree after degree until boiling... but luckily it's not too late to pivot.
How did I realize there was a problem?
It wasn't until Hannah, my wife, and in a separate instance my best friend Richard came and told me that doing too many things can pull me away from the most important things in life, and doing too many things might be what's causing my health to fail again.
I didn't love hearing that, but they were right. Last thing I want to do is neglect that which is most important to me. I don't care if I'm doing something "good" or for "ministry". If I'm neglecting my #1 ministry, my household, then I have my priorities backwards. I've heard many stories of people who had a "successful" ministry but crumbling houshold. I don't want that to be my story.
Even if I was doing some great things, I don't want to be a fool. Proverbs 12:15 says, "The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice." What seemed right to me was that helping with all these things was good. But the advice I received helped me see that I'm finite. My energy is finite. God is infinite, and I cannot act as though I am infinite.
What if me saying "yes" to a bunch of things makes it where someone doesn't learn an important skill that can help them have a more sustainable business or lifestyle? What if me saying "yes" steals an opportunity for someone to be trained up and do similar work? What if me saying "yes" is just out of fear, feeling like if I don't help, they won't make it or be able to succeed? That's pride and lack of faith.
I would wake up at like 4am or 5:30am just to be able to work on the things I said "yes" to. I would caffeinate. I feel like I'd use the best of my focus time on things other than work and quiet times, which I feel deserve the best of my focus abilities.
So, lots of life events + lots of new projects + caffeine - sleep - taking care of myself = poor, declining health and deep anxiety.
"Humility is fully occupying your God-given space, no more and no less" (Bobby Grunewald)
I feel like for the past many months, I've been trying to occupy more than my God-given space. It's such a hard wrestle, because there was so much good in all of this. Like I said earlier, I don't care if I'm doing something "good" or for "ministry". If I'm neglecting my #1 ministry, my household, then I have my priorities backwards.
One of the biggest things God's shown me in life is to lead and live a lifestyle that's sustainable, especially for those who are in the faith and in tech. You ever heard the statistic that 50% or marriages end in divorce, even in Christian circles? I have a theory that 75% of those in tech will end up in burnout at some point. Why? The grind lifestyle is unsustainable.
And... my inability, or hardship, of saying "no" has led me to an unsutainable lifestyle.
James 4:17, which states, "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin."
I have decided to cut back every freelance and volunteer projects and focuses until further notice, so I can narrow them down and focus on the most important things. When my health regains and my excitement and margin grows for another project, in an act to protect from living false humility, I will get counsel from Hannah and Richard on whether or not adding something new is wise.
"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18
— from Cam Pak, a man who loves his household so dearly
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