Maybe it’s just me, but tasks, responsibilities, choices, options, and general noise from the world can become overwhelming at times. When life gets busy, I find myself almost paralyzed with information overload. Have a half an hour before the next scheduled event? Should I prep food, do some house cleaning, write a blog post, read, play with the kids, go to the store, check an item off my to do list, do a quick workout?
Okay, I decide to prep food. What meal? Should I stick with the meal plan I came up with earlier in the week or be spontaneous? I’ll see what recipes I can make with the ingredients on hand. Okay, should I search online or peruse the half dozen cookbooks on my kitchen counter? Will the kids eat the Thai chicken dish I found online? Doubtful. I’ll just make something different for them. But what? And around we go again.
This is just one possible option of how to spend those thirty minutes. There are dozens of others, and that’s where the real struggle comes from. When I get caught up in my thoughts and buy into the societal pressure that my life ought to look a certain way, there is a self-imposed pressure to always be doing the right thing. I remember this mindset. It’s the one that drove me into my head and away from my family. It’s the one that believes my thoughts and actions will keep my world spinning, rather than surrendering to God’s perfect plan.
The truth is, time is finite. There are only so many hours in a day, days in a year, and years in a lifetime. How we choose to spend our time is hugely important in shaping the life we lead. The more activities I tell myself need to fit into my life, the more overwhelmed I feel. Does the meal have to be completely home cooked and (for me) paleo? Do I need to say yes to every request for parental volunteer or kids’ birthday party invitation? Do I have to run or workout a certain number of times per week?
Of course the answer to all of these is no. Those pressures are self-imposed and lead to stress and anxiety that I have to fit everything in to my already full schedule of childcare, diabetes management, a full time job, etc.
I’m prayerfully asking God to help me re-find the place of trusting acceptance and he’s shown me a surefire method for deciding how to spend my time.
I began down the right track this fall as I prioritized my kids’ soccer games over joining the running club on long runs Saturday mornings. I’m still running on my own, which is peaceful and delightful, but training for a marathon is not a priority when I could be watching Teo play soccer!
Just last night, I got a wonderful reminder of how prioritizing connection with my family yields joy and peace. Sienna starting complaining of an upset tummy about an hour before bedtime. She was already all bathed and in her pajamas; she came to me in tears that her tummy hurt. I said, “Why don’t we get in bed and read?”
Since she’s been doing most of the reading to Dennis or me at bedtime, she asked “But, can you read? I don’t feel up to it.”
“Of course, Lovie.” We settled into her bed to start the last chapter of Ramona Quimby, Age 8.
After taking some medicine and finishing Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Sienna was feeling a little better and asked if we could read another book. We both moved from her bed to the floor in front of her bookshelves to choose the next book. I looked over at Sienna, she smiled at me and said, “I love reading with you, it makes me feel so much better.” Then, looking at the books, “It’s like our own library… our own little library,” she gushed.
I felt the tenderness of that moment and thanked God that I wasn’t too busy or distracted to make the time to read longer with my daughter. This night, I’d certainly made the right choice.
Today in church, if I needed additional confirmation of the value of spending that time, Sienna said to me: “Thank you for reading to me when I was sick last night, Mama.” I told her what was true, “I love taking care of you when you need me.”
I’m so thankful for these tender moments that teach me the most valuable ways I can spend my precious time.