If we want to get organized and feel more free to love and laugh in our lives, the first thing we need to is set priorities. They are the anchor – the organizing principle – which should set our homes in order.
When we stray from the anchor of our priorities we will feel the tug. We will not be as happy because we are not doing the things that are truly and most important to us. There will be a pull we feel, trying to bring us back on track. If we ignore the tug, we can sometimes suffer the physical consequences of our wandering.
Say Goodbye to Survival Mode
In the first chapter of Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, Crystal Payne suggests the first step to moving away from simply surviving is to “Stop Trying to Do it All.” We get run down when we try to say yes to everything that comes our way, every opportunity, every request, and (even) every standard. “Yes” is what gets us into trouble. She encourages us to begin to create margin in our lives by beginning to say, “No” to the less-than important things in our lives.
I started this Hope for Homemakers group because I noticed there was a lot of comparing one another as homemakers without much encouragement to live distinct God-centered lives in our homes. Looking around at other people’s standards and seeking to meet them, without regard to what really works for your family is a direct path to survival mode. Instead, I wanted to encourage a community of women to find what works for them in their homes and for their families. Being the most organized, making the home-cooked meal 21 times a week, and always saying, “Yes” to teaching another Bible study is not what home looks like for every family. In some families, there is always a hunt for another clean sock, always the temptation to have cereal for dinner, and the kids buy school lunch out of the vending machine. In EVERY family, life looks different.
So, it is super-, extremely-, ultra-important to know what is most important to you and your family. And Crystal tells us that creating a personal priorities list is the first step in creating margin in our lives and in our homes. Crystal suggests asking ourselves these questions whilst creating our list:
What is the most important to you? Family? Work? Health? Others? Where do you see yourself in twenty-five years? At the end of your life, what do you want to look back on and have accomplished? What’s going to matter most to you?
And then she suggests categorizing this list into Personal, Spiritual/Emotional, Family, Career/Ministry, Friendships. She says as we do this process, we will begin to notice patterns in the lists. I certainly did as I was doing this. And I also began to see why I spend so much time in survival mode.
Here is what I discovered through this process:
As I prayerfully considered the priorities of my life, I made this list:
God – Bible study for me, personally; ministering to others by leading Bible study each week; submitting my plans for my days to His will/His purposes/His plans
My husband – meeting his needs and desires for physical/emotional well-being; submitting my plans for the home to his needs, considering him above me
our girls – meeting their needs physically/emotionally; imparting life skills; pointing them to Jesus; being engaged with them
friends – being a good (faithful) friend to a small group of people
my blog – the outlet for my creativity, a place to record the life of our household; goals – earn some money to make it worthwhile; write the books I have in mind; use it as a record of what we do as a family, not a reason for being family
my home – I love a clean, organized, dinner on the table at 6 kind of home; this is where I thrive, where I feel comfortable, where I feel I an invite/minister to people
Bible study leader – goals – faithful to teach the Word, prayer support for each woman, pointing each woman to Jesus – whether in email, phone call, lunch/coffee date
These things are what is important to me. These are what make up my daily life. All other things are extraneous and, to me, unnecessary. I have noticed as I type this list out I have not included myself as a priority and that may be an indication of where I place myself in the grand scheme of my life. There may be room for balance here and something that needs to be addressed as I seek to remove myself from survival mode and live a fuller life. But for the most part, these are the things that should anchor me as I move through my days, weeks, months, and years. There is always time to re-evaluate and re-prioritize as we enter various phases of our family life.
Learning When to Say, “No.”
Now that I have these priorities set, I can easily measure the opportunities that come my way. I can also look at the outside pressures and other people’s standards that tempt me to alter from my chosen course and evaluate them in light of what is truly important to me.
A clear (albeit frivolous) example of something that I have to resist the urge to do because my priorities don’t allow it at this time is purchasing a Silhouette machine. I have seen these amazing projects on Pinterest and other blogs using a Silhouette machine and I would just LOVE to have one. I would love to figure out how it works and make all sorts of fun things. BUT, I know deep down that I do not really have the time in my life (right now) to pour into this pursuit. It is not a bad pursuit, it is not unworthy of my time. It is simply not a priority of mine. Indeed, it would pull me away from my other priorities – and so, for me, it is a “NO” at this point.
I do still have my eye on the day when I might be able to spend time with one and I do enter contests to win one when I see them, but I understand that it is not for this stage of my life.
Have you taken the time to sit down, think about, and list your priorities? I recommend you do it prayerfully and honestly. As you do, you may discover what is truly the anchor for your home and for you as a hopeful homemaker.