Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Balancing Life's Priorities

by Donna L. Watkins

© Donna L. Watkins - Pond at Duke Gardens
While Martha scurried making preparations for her guests, Mary sat at Jesus' feet listening. For those of us who enjoy being busy, we understand Martha's position. We see all the things that need doing and want to get them accomplished so we too can sit at the Master's feet.

Sometimes perfectionism enters in and creates a lot of misery, as with the story of a mother of three children who complained to her doctor that she couldn't get the house cleaned the way she liked before everyone left in the morning. She was so stressed out, the doctor put her on antidepressants.

From her accounting of her days, it seemed that somebody had a gun to her head with a voice saying, "Every dish must be put away and every towel folded - or else!" Life becomes one emergency after another and "catching up" is an effort in futility that causes depression.

Yet, in the case of this mother, she was creating the stress herself, and surely dispensing it to others around her. Have your chores and daily goals become so consuming that you've forgotten your priorities in life? Is a neat house more important than time with a child? I heard these questions while I was a parent, but struggled with perfectionism. That season of life is now over .... I wish I'd spent more time pondering that question back then.

Do your accomplishments become a condition for whether you're happy or not? Do you berate yourself when you don't meet your deadlines and don't get "it all" checked off on the To Do List?

Admit you are creating your own stress. Talk to your family about it. Decide together what the priorities truly are. Don't wait till your health is gone or your children grown up. Whether you're obsessing over your home, your job, or your own looks and abilities, you'll never measure up when your goals are unreasonable.

When you hear those voices telling you that you're not measuring up, you focus on what God says about you. Take a Scripture from Psalm 139 and hold onto it as tightly as you can. Your self-worth comes from God and His opinion of you has never changed since the day He created you!

Another mother who struggled with juggling the hunger for God and the demands of a wife and mother found a solution. In each room of the house, she found a place to put paper and pen high enough for little hands not to reach it.

As she served the Lord in her household tasks, she also kept herself open to God's voice. When she thought of a Scripture or something to confess, correct or pray about, she would jot it down on the paper. In the evening after the children were in bed, she gathered up the notes and pondered these thoughts and messages from God from the day. She found a way to be Martha and Mary at the same time.

As God for your balance. Maybe this resource will be of help to you.

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