Friday, October 7, 2011

Getting It All Done

Mom is one of the most stressful jobs in the world. At any given moment you might be required to suddenly don the hat of doctor/nurse, chauffeur, cook, math teacher, music teacher, therapist, or housekeeper. And that's not even including the jobs required for taking care of a baby. You have no warning about what demand might come at you in the next minute. And then there are the more important but less urgent mothering jobs, things like planning for your children's education or spiritual development. Deciding which opportunities they should take and which to let pass by. Many paid jobs are stressful too, but they aren't as all-consuming and long-term as Mom--this job is 24/7 for your whole life!

A few summers ago I read a book called Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It was a good book, but the one thing that really stuck with me was this truth: I have time for everything God has given me to do today. How freeing! God has given us mortals a set amount of hours in each day, and he will not give us more jobs than we are supposed to do in that day. If we feel like we are not able to get everything done in a given day (in every given day, it sometimes feels like), that's because we are taking on more than we should or different things than we should.

There is never enough time to do everything that is one everyone else's to-do list for Mom. You cannot do it all--be a cheerful wife and mother, keep a clean and organized house, prepare healthy from-scratch meals every day, help at your kids' school and at church, keep physically fit, wear the latest fashions, keep up on current events, and have a job outside the home.

But God didn't give you all of those jobs. DeMoss writes, "Frustration is the by-product of attempting to fulfill responsibilities God does not intend for us to carry. Freedom, joy, and fruitfulness come from seeking to determine God's priorities for each season of life and then setting out to fulfill those priorities, in the power of His Spirit, realizing that He has provided the necessary time and ability to do everything that He has called us to do."

I want to replace my frustration with freedom, joy, and fruitfulness. I think part of the key is in that phrase she uses, "for each season of life." Much of my frustration comes from trying to do things in the wrong season. When my kids are babies and constantly getting colds is probably not the season to work in the nursery, since I'm usually home with them for about half the Sundays between November and March. But when they are a little older and one of them can serve in the nursery with me is probably a good season for that. On the other hand, the elementary school years are the right season to help in the kids' school. The season of being home with babies might be the right time to be in a book study with neighbors, but it's probably not the time to try to get my house onto the cover of HouseBeautiful.

I suppose the big question is how do you determine what is right for your season of life? Prayer obviously plays a big part. Asking the advice of older women is often helpful. Sitting down with a pencil and paper and deciding what your goals and priorities are is a good exercise. If your goals for this season are personal spiritual growth, a healthy marriage, and caring for young children, your time will spent differently than if your goals are a cheeful, orderly home, hospitality, and paying for a child's college education.

On those days when 100 demands are coming at you from every direction, just repeat that mantra to yourself: I have time for everything I am supposed to do today. Then ask God to show you what is most important and free yourself from the rest of it.

And since it's Friday, how about this oldie but goodie:

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