“We make time for the things that are most important to us.” ~Unknown
I call BS. (pardon the language)
I am guilty of saying it, buying into it, believing it. But the truth is that making time for things – even things deeply important – is sometimes impossible.
You see, sometimes there are just too many things that are important, too many things we truly desire to accomplish, and we cannot fit them in.
Other times, we become paralyzed, unable to move forward on even one or two necessary tasks, let alone the many important things.
And yet other times, we just need to chill out! There may be time to complete the necessary…even the important…but we just don’t want to. Instead, we want to surf Facebook or watch NCIS.
Telling ourselves that we can/will/should “make time” to do things that are important is yet another trick of the enemy, designed to keep us in bondage to our feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
I truly do want to lose weight, be healthier, and have more energy. I desire this change. It’s important to me. Yet when Pat invites me on a bike ride with him, I turn him down more often than not. Yesterday, I declined and spent that hour sitting in my front room reading some dystopian fiction for teens. But I couldn’t fully immerse myself in the story and enjoy it because I felt so guilty for “being lazy.”
I’m no longer working outside the home (long story, my choice, a good thing), yet I cannot seem to bring myself to tackle the organizing and decluttering that needs to be done around the house. I think about it. I wake up with good intentions. I tell myself I’ll do it first thing before I get distracted. But then I get invited to go out garage sale shopping, and I ditch any thoughts of housework. I guiltily apologize to Pat for “slacking off on the job” (as my current full-time job is and should be home-maker).
I want to write more often. It’s not just a hobby, but (I believe) a calling. Yet sitting down to blog with any regularity evades me. I want to meal plan, cook more, and eat junk less. This is important for all of our health and our finances. But can I make the time? It would seem not!
All sorts of very important things I desire, many necessary things that are required, and I can’t make the time. So I waver back and forth between justification and guilt, trapped by my emotions, condemned by my failures, unable to meet my own expectations. Make time – ha!
Last night, Pat said to me, “You don’t have to feel guilty for doing or not doing certain things around here. You don’t have to keep apologizing for not meeting whatever you think it is I expect. All I really want is for you to be happy. If you’re happy, our entire house is happy, and that’s what matters.” His words got me thinking and evaluating what I expect of myself and my time, and I recalled some solid teaching from our women’s retreat last year…
“Sometimes, true balance can look very unbalanced.” ~Sandy Cooper
In some seasons, I may be called to keep a white-glove test passing tidy house and neglect other good things. In some seasons, I may be called to ignore the house and just play with my kids. In other seasons, perhaps I’ll be called to write for hours on end, feeding the family pb & j more often than is considered healthy. In certain seasons, I might just be called to rest, relax, and enjoy a good book. Maybe there will even be a season where I’ll feel called to get super serious about losing weight.
The key to making time, I think, is not figuring out how to fit in all that’s important. It’s not in taking the ‘to do’ list and prioritizing. It’s not in scheduling set times for certain activities. The key to making time is in figuring out what we are called to do for this season, for this week, for this day. The key is in asking God, daily, “Where do You want me to invest my time today?” and simply obeying.
In the obeying, there is release from our own expectations or the expectations of others. In the obeying, there is freedom from the guilt that plagues. In the obeying, there is a soul-deep joy that spills over into the lives of those you interact with.
Making time is not about scheduling, planning, or motivation. Making time is all about obedience. Ask. Listen. Obey. Be joyful.
So this morning I asked God what His priorities are for me today. I wondered if I should take advantage of our last day of school and clean the basement (apparently the toy boxes filled with unused toys have vomited all over the rec room). I figured I really ought to ensure I get Braeden to his hearing aid appointment this afternoon. I asked if I should exercise, wash floors, take the kids that are already done school to the skateboard park, or all of the above. Even in my asking I could hear my own (and others’) expectations.
Then I stopped chatting at Him so I could listen. He said (into my heart and mind, not in a big, booming, out-loud kinda way), “This is some good stuff we’re working through. This morning you need to write. Share these feelings. Someone needs to know she’s not alone. So do you. Pour yourself another cup of coffee and just write.”
Here I sit, typing away, obeying. And no surprise, I have tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. I feel joy. I feel freedom.
What will I do with the rest of my day? Well, I think I’ll be taking lots of pauses to ask and listen. I find that God doesn’t generally spread out the big picture in front of me and let me go to town. Rather, He shines just enough light to illuminate the path directly in front of me (kinda like when I’m heading to the bathroom at night when we’re out camping). While only seeing a couple feet ahead can be frustrating to a planner like myself, it can also be freeing.
I don’t need to have it all laid out. I don’t need to have a full day or a five year plan in place. I just need to pause, ask, and listen whenever I’m not sure where to go next. Then, when I see the path that the flashlight beam exposes, I turn that direction, and walk one step at a time.
This is my “summer resolution.” I give myself freedom from my own expectations and the expectations of others. I release myself from the snare of guilt and feelings of inadequacy. I take my perfectionist, planning, detailed nature and demand that it release its grip over my day-to-day. The only thing I commit to “make time” for is to ask and listen, whenever necessary – whether once or 100 times per day.
Anyone else want (or need) to join me in this resolution?
Now, I need to reschedule an appointment that has the potential to rob my afternoon of that which I am called to (which is, apparently, a picnic in the park with a bunch of homeschool families). Huh, funny how easy these decisions are when I’m not the one making them!
* image courtesy of http://lovinjazzinvegas.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/this-past-month-crazy/