Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Circus Act

Someone once made the point that we are all given the same amount of time: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It is so true.  No one in the entire world, 7 billion of us, gets one minute more of time per day, per week.  Ever.  Despite demands and schedules, it is up to each person to manage that time wisely and to set realistic goals so that we aren’t always scrambling to get things done.

Invariably, no matter how carefully we manage our time, we manage to run out of it.  We get busy and overloaded.  Dirty laundry lies in heaps on the floor, reports go unwritten, phone calls are pushed off until the next day, doctor appointments are overlooked.  We look to others in comparison, and complain that they must have extra hours in the day; they seem to get more things done than I do.  Or maybe we think they are more driven and can accomplish more.  Or maybe they are better at everything and can get things done more quickly.

Sometimes the comparisons go the other way, and we see others as lazy or not ambitious. We’ve got so much going on.  We run in circles to get the day’s tasks halfway accomplished, while others stroll through life unruffled.  We are crazed with an insane schedule, and resent their calm, easy-going life.  They must have nothing to do.  How boring; what a waste.

These comparisons serve no purpose other than to draw our focus outwardly, fostering jealousy and judgments and any number of things that take away from our own accomplishments.  We see ourselves as driven and successful, and feed our egos with more and more tasks in order to rack up successes, or we see ourselves as idlers and feel as if we’re trapped in a holding pattern, or our tasks overwhelm us and we fail at them over and over - we can’t do anything right.  All of these perspectives isolate us and undermine our purpose, which is that we are valuable and meaningful and useful in the eyes of God.

As a stay-at-home mom, I sometimes have difficulty figuring out how to spend my time.   From the outside it looks as though my time is free to do many things, but no more than anyone else who works at any other job.  I have responsibilities that are used to achieve a standard that we have set in our family, and there are consequences when I don’t meet them. 

At the end of any given day I am faced with a whole list of things I let go undone.  The next day starts off with additions to my to-do list, and they too go unfinished.  Forget it if a kid is home sick - the whole week is shot.  The end result is that I feel useless and unpurposeful.

That’s when, if I am present and quiet, I pray.  Pray for God’s wisdom, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ peace and any other heavenly power I can drum up at the moment.  I guess what I’m asking for is discernment.  What is important here?  What is my purpose?  What is crucial for the well-being of my family, my community, myself?  WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO BE DOING HERE?

Sometimes I get an answer.  Sometimes, I don’t.  But I get up, and I get on with it.  And eventually, that peace comes, and I feel as if I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail. Proverbs 19:21 (NLT)

For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.  Philippians 2:13 (NLT)