Friday, March 7, 2014
Last weekend I celebrated my 27th birthday. Birthdays I think are a great time to reflect back on our past. I like to think about all the different blessings and challenges I have had as well as what opportunities and obstacles I might face in the future. This birthday was no different.
I did have a lot of blessings in the last year. We traveled literally around the world to China, I had some amazing service opportunities in our church, and we moved to a new town and made several new friends that I hope to have for life. I had our challenges too. Our middle child had surgery and I am continually exhausted from the stress of raising kids in a home where one parent is both working full time and in school. Grad students everywhere I know you can relate. Life balance is hard to achieve right now. I am not always my best self. There are days where I am just in parenting survival mode because those perfectly laid plans I made are just not going to happen. I have to let it go.
Letting go I think is always the hardest battle. You are admitting that some things are out of your control. Maybe you even realize that everything is out of your control. Suddenly things look really uncertain.
So much of life is unknown. To overcome that, we make big plans to make ourselves feel like we can control life. We fill up our calendar and schedules with important to-do items. However, sometimes we plan so much that we micromanage every minute of our time. I definitely do this. My plans become elaborate and I fill in any "free" time to make myself more productive.
One of the things I really learned this year was in one of my parenting survival mode moments. Here I was trying to get my kids to bend their wills to my plans for the day. Let me tell you: getting a headstrong seven year old, a distracted five year old, and a defiant two year old to cooperate is no cakewalk. We are talking about a battle of epic proportions. Here I stood trying not to lose it because MY kids were not sticking to the itinerary, to MY plans!
I realized that this is no way to live life. My kids don't need to be in a ton of sports that have us constantly on the go. We don't need to say yes to every opportunity that we encounter. Our calendar shouldn’t be so complicated that it practically needs an interpreter as if it is in some foreign language. Soccer, dance, swimming, commitments – these things by themselves are not bad things. It is when we over schedule and are busy all the time that this is bad. When we live like this our calendar dictates our lives. It controls us. It defines our lives instead of the other way around.
I will be the first to admit we are so guilty of this. I need to make sure we as a family change our priorities so time, calendars, and to-do lists don’t define our lives. I need to put God first, family second, everyone else next.
I don’t want us to be so busy that God becomes something random. I don’t often get things right with God. I will definitely admit I don’t always put God first. But I think I’m learning that maybe a little less is more for our family right now. I’m less distracted from prayer, from church, from my relationship with God when I center my life in this way. Freeing up my schedule actually frees me. I think that is definitely something I can keep on my to-do list.