Priorities

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So, this week has been a real eye-opener for me. The past few months have been a period of extreme growth and spiritual awakening for me. And maybe I got a bit too cavalier about everything. Maybe I let pride get a little bit of a foothold. Maybe I just let anxiety get the better of me, once again. Maybe I just thought I didn’t need to work as hard after so many fierce battles back to back. I don’t know exactly what happened, but somewhere between the time I started seeing victory over the darkness I was battling and the present, I seem to have gotten turned around. Despite some changes in circumstances, I seem to be heading right back to same prison of fear and oppression that I just gained the courage to walk out of!

I will never understand this crazy heart of mine.

Earlier this week I started feeling anxiety creeping into my mind. I felt the cold blast of worry waking me in the night like a frying pan to the head. Fear and self-doubt gripping me like socks that are too tight, (I hate socks just so ya know) cutting off my circulation, my peace from the Spirit.

What happened? Why am I feeling this way?

Frustrated and feeling overwhelmed, I turned to my Savior. Now, it took me a couple of times to quiet my heart and stop over thinking everything. Another red flag that something isn’t right between me and God. I finally just sat my booty on the couch and said, “Ok God, I’m going to shut-up. I’m going to sit here, meditate on this here Bible verse, and do my yoga breaths until I hear from you.”

That’s all I wanted to begin with, is the first thing that entered my mind.

Oh. Oh man.

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Clear as day, I see where I went wrong. See, God asked for my obedience and devotion, to make him number one in my life. He spoke very clearly to me in recent months (or years rather) about making my family the most important priority (after him). He gave me a calling, a desire to write, a purpose. I’m here for relationship with my God. I’m here to lead my family in Christ, to teach them to follow God’s ways, to be a godly example to them. I’m here to live in a way that shines brightly in the darkness of this world, to write words that bring hope, encouragement and transparency to those seeking truth.

I prayed and fought and followed a scarily narrow path to have a life that would allow these things to be priorities. And God answered every prayer. Basically, he gave me everything I’ve ever hoped for! I mean, we’re making it on one income right now, in South Florida of all places. I don’t know how, but I know that God is making a way. I am able to be a mom, for the first time in my life! I spend mornings cooking for and chatting with my kids, I actually know what’s going on in their lives, I’ve gotten to be there for important conversations and hold them through tearful languishings of a harsh world. I know what’s happening at school, help them study, communicate with teachers. All things that have been beyond difficult in the past as a single mom working multiple jobs.

Everyone in my home is growing closer to God, and I see him opening doors and hearts and mindsets more and more everyday. I have the whole day to spend in prayer and just listen to God….and this where I think I went wrong. Because that’s the one thing I haven’t been doing.

Instead of spending my mornings in prayer, I’ve been spending them trying to get stuff done. Cleaning. Getting laundry started. Planning dinner. Cooking breakfast. Doing dishes. And feeling overwhelmed. Like I’m a failure if my house isn’t spotless, because I’m a stay at home mom now, and it should be.

Instead of thanking God for providing for our every need and making our very limited income stretch, I worry about how I’m going to catch up on bills that I’ve gotten behind on. Every phone call from a creditor sends me spiraling into a frantic state of worry, and I feel ashamed that I’m not working. I feel like a failure, not being able to provide for and meet the never-ending needs of my family.

I am ungrateful towards the wonderful man in my life who is so supportive, who believes in me, who loves my children like his own, who is bearing the financial burden of all of this, because he believes in what it’s accomplishing, believes in me, as woman, a mother, a writer…. So much love, so much support and I fight him on it, every step of way. I’m too proud to admit that I can’t do it on my own, that I need him. Too proud to let myself appreciate him and all he does for us because I am afraid of being dependent on anyone but myself.

God reminded me that he put Justin my life for a reason. That we don’t use each other to get what we want, like unhealthy co-dependent relationships from my past. Instead we love and give all we have to each other, and part of that is accepting his love and his desire to be that pillar of strength that we need as we all grow through this.

Basically, I’ve just said, “Thanks God for answering every prayer, for giving me the means to do everything you’ve called me to, buuuuuuuttt……..I really like to be anxious and frantic and alone. It makes me feel like I have some sort of control over life. I think I’ll head back to my prison cell now. Thanks anyways….”

I really don’t want to be a slave to myself anymore. So it’s time to go back to basics. Priorities. What is the most important thing?

First and foremost, my alone time with God. What a relief it is to not have to rush my time with God in the morning!! I don’t have to squeeze my prayer time into a 20 minute window anymore, afraid that if I go over I won’t have time to brush my teeth or make sure my underwear aren’t inside out. (The struggle is real) That’s not a thing for me anymore!! So why am I still rushing? I’m quite sure God is not going to be upset if I skip scrubbing floors on Monday, or if I forget to start the dishwasher. As I prayed about this I realized that I feel guilty if I spend too much time in prayer. It feels like I’m shirking responsibilities. I know some you know just what I mean. But that’s a lie. Our personal relationship with God is the most important responsibility we have. And like any other relationship, it takes time and effort to build and grow. Why should I feel guilty about that? Well, I’m not going to anymore.

Think about it…if I am not filling up on the love and peace of the Holy Spirit, how on earth can I expect to pour that out to my family? To my readers? To my friends? I can’t. So my alone time with God must come first, and I’m not done till he’s done. It might be an hour, or it might be four. But I have to trust that God will give me what I need to accomplish everything I need to do if I put him first.

The second priority needs to be my family, my children. They are my first and most important mission field. They will be leaders in the future. They are the people I am closest to and have the greatest influence on.

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It’s really easy for me to become obsessed with work. And just because I’m not out in the workforce now doesn’t mean that’s changed. It’s very easy for me to procrastinate on helping Halle with a science project so that I can write a blog post. Or insist that I have to finish this long list of chores before we can discuss that extracurricular activity Ryan wants to join. And I would dare to say most of us feel this way. Most of us are taught and strongly believe that work comes before all else, even family. It has to be a priority or we don’t get paid, dinner doesn’t get made, and we end up with cockroaches, right? But I really think we have this backwards. I know I’ve talked about this many times before, but I’m gonna keep talking about it because I think it is vital to positive change in our culture. Family has to be the most important thing on this planet. My kids, your kids are going to change the future, they are going to be leaders of the next generation. Your spouse is the one who you lean on for support and growth, the one who knows you best, the one you want by your side now and in the future. You should treat them as the precious gift that they are. We cannot expect our families to take care of themselves while we’re off trying to be “successful”. All the money we make, all the things we accomplish will mean nothing if the message we relay to our families is that having things is more important than investing time and effort into people. Look at the world we’ve created by doing this….how much could be different if we made our families a priority?

Anyways, I’m ranting, but seriously. The dishes will be there after that soccer game. Your presentation is not going to be a failure if you take your wife to an hour and a half long movie. That phone call to your boss can wait until after your family prayer time. It really can. I don’t know why I’m telling you, I’m the one having the problem here lol!!

Without making this post excruciatingly long (it’s getting there, I know) I just want to remind you, and remind myself, that when we set our priorities to the way God has told us to, he makes a way for us. He just does. I can honestly say I had a day this week where I spent four hours in prayer. Then Justin and I spent at least five hours with Ryan in the costume shop, tailoring every last piece of his Darth Vader suit, because we had been promising him all week, and the kid is quite passionate about his Vader costumes. I really didn’t have time for all of that, and I could have easily postponed it or cut short either of these. But I didn’t and I’m glad. I needed that time with God, I needed that time with my son, with Justin. My daughter has been battling a nasty case of strep throat and then the flu. She’s been out of school quite bit. I could have made her watch tv and sleep all day everyday so that I could write. But I didn’t. Well, she did sleep a lot, but if she was awake, I made her tea, held her while we watched the Twilight movies, and let her know I was here for her.

And ya know what? Every time I had my priorities in order, I accomplished what I needed to. God will make a way when you follow his lead.

I’m done, I know, I know. I’m really trying to make these posts shorter for you and easier to read. It’ll get there. Eventually!

Have a great day guys! Double check your priorities and come up with a plan over the weekend. Start fresh on Monday. Make God first, family second, work/mission field third. I promise you won’t regret it. Happy Friday!

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