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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

I Love This Man (and how good husbands help fight panic)

I love this man. I imagined he would have been proud of the spreadsheet I had been working on. My husband, Ryan, is an actuary, and life, according to actuaries, is best handled with spreadsheets and mathematical models.

It is Sunday morning, and I am spending the morning hours of quiet in extended Scripture reading and prayer. As I’ve begun this new season (five children in school, me at home during the week with hours of quiet strung together), I’ve wanted to listen to God, clarify what He’s asking of me, and remain sane in my expectations of myself.

Because it’s been many times that I have confused hearing from God with megalomaniac delusions.

Shouldering the impossible is ONLY a good idea when you’re quite certain it’s something to which you’ve been called. If, on the other hand, you’ve willingly signed yourself up for madness, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself when the multiple plates you’ve tried to keep alight come crashing at your feet.

Determined that I would NOT do this, not spin one plate too many, I’d come up with this brilliant plan:  I would tally the hours I’d have to myself while the kids were at school and subtract the necessary time for keeping up with laundry, housework, grocery shopping, cooking (in addition to a few personal pleasures like exercise and coffee dates with friends). What was leftover could be reasonably dedicated to other pursuits (namely, writing.)

Yes, I admit: this is my OCD self on steroids.

And here’s is a modified version of the facts and figures of my life:

30 hours

Weekly total

- 3 hours


- 2 hours


- 2.5 hours


-2 hours


-2.5 hours


- 3 hours

Coffee with friends

- 4 hours


11 hours


11 hours left for writing?

My heart knotted. It wasn’t as much time as I expected to have.

I panicked, rethinking all my plans to write a book this year (in addition to the two issues for Today in the Word for which I’m already slotted and the various other articles I also need to be writing). I concluded that book writing was IMPOSSIBLE, muttering questions to myself like, why was I planning to attempt anything beyond the care of my family and didn’t I remember that we had FIVE kids?

Later that morning, I stood at the bathroom mirror, admitting to Ryan that I was “feeling a little bit of anxiety.” (Just a teeny bit.)

“Why?” Confused, he was thinking that school had just begun. Hadn’t I reached the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel?

“Because I sat down this morning, took a hard look at the time I would really have to dedicate to writing this year and realized that it’s not that much. I’m kidding myself to think I can get a book written this year.”

He paused, like all good men do, when they need to calculate how best to handle their wives teetering in a state of emotional fragility. (He’s not been fooled that I am feeling only a little anxious.)

“Why don’t you just see how this week goes?”

Thud. Sanity lands at my feet.

You mean, not have a panic attack before the actual week has begun?

You mean, wait to see however accurately or inaccurately my spreadsheet reflects the week’s reality?

You mean, keep cool because the kids have been in school ONLY ONE DAY SO FAR and there are 179 days ahead of me?

Oh, yeah.

I love this man.