Along the same lines of focusing on “the essential” things we value, I’ve been thinking and praying a lot about what’s important in life recently. One of the biggest complaints in modern life is how busy and hectic our days have become. We seemingly get caught up in the tidal wave of activities, events, and to do lists, without stopping to ask ourselves whether we have to do any of it.
As I’m nearing my late thirties (when did that happen?!), I’ve come to realize that, in terms of possible activities, the decisions are typically not between something good and something bad. Instead, we have to choose between two positive and valuable activities. That’s when it becomes a challenge to simplify, because the things we may have to cut out are worthwhile, in and of themselves.
For example, as a family with two working parents, our weekend hours are precious and few. Going to the Divine Service on Sunday morning is our highest priority and we have adopted special routines around the morning, including Dennis and my coffee weekly coffee date while the kids are in Sunday school. I look forward to it all week! During the fall, football is high on our priority list too, especially when the Dolphins are playing so well!
As our kids are getting into sports and activities, in addition to me coveting my early morning long run, Saturdays now include soccer games in the fall and soon Tee-ball in the spring. Which will be fun mother/son bonding since I’m co-coaching Teo’s Tee-ball team! But, before you know it, the weekend is full of planned activities that we find valuable.
There are dozens of other potential activities that could fill our time and many of them are good – reading a book, playing with the kids at the park, socializing, preparing meals for people, teaching the kids to swim, spending time with my husband, catching up with extended family, exercising, cleaning the house, etc. But, when it comes time to decide how to spend a weekend afternoon, we need to consider how relatively valuable each of these activities are to us. The hours are limited and prioritization is necessary if we want to look back and feel that we lived with integrity – that is our values were aligned with our actions.
Now that I think about this, it’s really being intentional about how we spend our time, right? Rather than going through the motions and opting to do whatever comes our way, without taking the time to actually choose.
Just today, I realized that I’d already fallen behind on my “Through the Bible in a Year” reading! It’s only the fourth day of the year! I started to tell myself that I didn’t have time to read four chapters of the Bible each day. The “I’m too busy for this” mantra only lasted a second before I realized that I’d just spent 10 minutes scrolling through Facebook. When I compare spending time looking at social media (when, let’s be honest, at least half of the items I scroll by add no redeeming value to my life) to reading the Word of God, it’s pretty clear what’s more valuable.
So, going into the New Year, I’m praying that God helps me to mindfully prioritize activities that focus on Him and the people that I value most. Because, in the end, connections to my loved ones and God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is what’s most important to me.