A friend prompted me with the following question: if you could go back in time, when you were the mother of young ones, what would you do differently? Not different in specific ways you would parent, or even mistakes that you made that you would want to go back and “fix”, but what would you do with your time? What do you wish you would have poured more of yourself into, and what do you wish you would have let go?
I did let go of some things along the way.
I tried to maintain a level of clean that didn’t trigger a health department official coming over to investigate.
I kept a reasonable schedule of laundry–one that recognized that I would never be “caught up” until there were far fewer people living in the house.
I accepted no shame over not having dusted and vacuumed before friends came over.
I pursued an acceptable level of involvement in my children’s school–picking the activities and things that I was more interested in, and dropping those that were not a good fit for me, without guilt.
I recognized my limited interest in cooking anything beyond “tastes decent, within the budget, doesn’t take a lot of time, feeds everyone” and being okay with that.
So mostly—I tried to fit things to the reality of our family and our needs, without comparing myself and what I was doing to other people and how they were doing life in their families.
The oft-quoted “Comparison is the thief of joy” is oft-quoted for a reason. It’s true, y’all.
The releasing of these things was not all at once, but rather progress was made, in fits and spurts. I worked on trying to please God and serve my family, without being worried about what everyone else thought of how I was doing in those areas.
The question of what to pour yourself into? This is a hard question, in a way, because I think that it looks different for everyone. Things that may be more important to you, and worthwhile to pour your energy into, are not going to be the same things necessarily for me. As a believer in Christ, there are two things that are essential: loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength; and loving my neighbor as myself. The specifics on how I carry that all out will rest on my own specific gifting, abilities, situations, and experiences.
So how do I know how to spend my time and energy?
I think the only way is through a consistent conversation with God.
When we look into his Word and ponder it, think about it, pray it, we get a clearer view of Him, of his love and care for us, of his vision for our lives.
When the view is muddy, we ask for a clearer view and for what he wants us to do. We ask for eyes to see and ears to hear what that might be.
We continue on in the faithful, mundane-to-our-eyes daily service to our families, our workmates, our neighbors, and our community, knowing that that is important, necessary work.
We watch for opportunities that God may be bringing our way, to do other things that He would have us do.
We ask trusted people in our lives if they see those opportunities as well.
There’s no list or hierarchy that fits everyone. We are all unique parts of the Body, with unique roles to play.
Don’t be swayed by the idols of comfort, control, power, or the approval of others. Ask God what he wants you to do.
Pour yourself into a full, committed relationship with God.
Everything else will pour out from that.