The Main Thing
January 1. I am always surprised each year when this day rolls around. There are always 365 days in the year. For quite some time now January 1 has been one of them, yet I’m surprised every time.
The New Year brings about goal setting and renewed commitments to starting afresh. It has been my practice to choose one word as my theme for the year. With a now fourteen month old and a baby on the way, I am not quite sure what that word will be. Wonderful? Sleepless? Wisdom? Help!? My time in the coming year will be accounted for like never before.
While I love being a mom and wouldn’t trade it for anything, I’ve come to find that the challenge of maintaining myself as an individual, keeping a pulse on myself as a professional and still trying to define myself as a mother can be quite challenging. Oh, and not to mention trying to be an awesome wife. I have heard numerous opinions about the importance of taking time for yourself throughout motherhood. Have you heard the saying, “Happy wife. Happy life.”? I think it could be said, “Happy mom. Happy everyone.” Taking time to do things we enjoy contributes to our overall well-being and therefore the well-being of our families.
How about the moms that seemingly do it all? Stay at home while bringing in a six figure income, create every meal from scratch, write books, exercise seven days a week, plan date nights and crafts and have people in their homes and lead Bible studies. And not only do they lead Bible studies but bonus, they write them. Yeah, those moms. On the surface they effortlessly do it all.
But the reality is that they can’t do it all. I can’t do it all. You can’t do it all. If doing everything is the standard, something or someone is suffering somewhere because being superwoman is not possible, nor is it expected. Prioritizing must happen and sometimes that means the important is replaced with the urgent. Sometimes the important is replaced with the most important. I am discovering that being a mom requires much sacrifice (as if it took more than one day to figure that out. Thanks, Mom, for all you have sacrificed for the past thirty years). And sometimes that sacrifice may mean going weeks on end without having that alone time to do what you want to do.
So what do we do? Fight tooth and nail to maintain our individuality? Redefine who we are? Re-prioritize? Take a break from certain hobbies? Yes. All of the above. Just keeping up with the day to day can be stressful. But keeping up with the day to day with continued disappointment of not reaching perfection is worse.
Hang with me because this outwardly depressive discussion has a point. And it actually has to do with the upcoming year.
There are seasons in life we have to take a break from things we enjoy or at the very least re-define them. There are certain things we must maintain in order to function at full capacity. We need to be seeking God regularly. I wouldn’t place skipping church in the category of “taking a break.” Keeping that relationship first is most important and the only way to survive. We also need to take care of ourselves physically. Going to spin class five days a week may no longer be feasible but finding time to play with the kids at the park or going for a walk a few times a week is doable. Exercise shouldn’t be excluded but may need to be reformulated.
What I’m talking about is the extra fluff. For me, I long to go to a coffee house once a week and write. But it’s just not happening right now. Instead I need to take a step back for this season and enjoy it when it does happen. Or consider social media (now I’m stepping on toes). You may need to get off Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest (gasp!). Those “quick” five minute scrolls twenty times a day add up.
Here is the skinny: for next year let’s be challenged to keep the main the main thing. I want to let the most important overrule the important. This applies to us all, not just the moms. We all have something that needs to be removed, maybe even something important that should shift to the back burner for now. Removing something temporarily is just that: temporary. It doesn’t mean it is gone forever. But giving yourself permission to let go may be the very action that eliminates much of the stress in your life.
For you moms specifically, let’s agree to let ourselves off the hook. We have a few precious years with these little souls before they are out of our home. The most important role we have is being Jesus to them. I’m not always sure what that looks like. But I do know that if Jesus isn’t real in my life, how can I expect my children to know who he is?
And we have arrived at the main thing. If we don’t get anything else right, if we never re-activate our Facebook accounts to show off our smiling family, if we never go to another coffee house again or only blog once a month, if we eat fast food every week and never finish that book but we teach our children about Jesus, then we have kept the main thing the main thing.
And the main thing is worth pursuing every day of the year.