I've had several conversations with many different folks lately that have me concerned. In our culture and time we are over-stressed, over-programmed and over-involved. We tell ourselves, "We can have it all" but what happens too often is we miss it all. What's the reason?
It really comes down to how we define "all". And really WHO defines it "all". You see there is a pressure from all around that if you're not involved in everything that is possible and if you don't buy everything there is to buy that you're missing out.
However what I've seen happen too often is people get stressed out and don't even enjoy the activity they're involved in because they are too busy thinking about what is next.
Or on the financial end, I see people over-extending themselves where they can't afford the payments, can't afford to do the basics and can't afford to even be generous to others because they've tied up all their money in trying to "have it all". The issue in these examples is we are deceived and it needs to stop.
So how do we move forward? It starts not be eliminated but in redefining.
First off we have to define "having it all" as contentment, enjoyment not running ourselves ragged. When we learn to define "all" as "all that I need" as opposed to "all that you tell me I need" we begin to move to a greater level of freedom.
Here's three ways we can all begin to move in this freeing direction:
1. Choose to prioritize. Rather than letting everyone else tell you what is important--sit down, reflect, consider and if you're a married, discuss with your spouse: what do we value? what is most important? what does it mean for us to live?
For example on the financial front: how important is a vacation? what are the things we would like to have a better version of (for me it's coffee--I enjoy a cup each morning and would rather not settle for Folgers or some generic brand.)
When it comes to time -- where do I/we want to place it? What will best help us grow? What will form character? What will put us in position to serve and better others? Before you "do" anything -- pause and prioritize. (And when you're prioritizing that means you are choosing a few things that are most important meaning there will be many many things that are less important. This should go without saying, but if your "priorities" are a million things, you haven't really prioritized!)
2. Be willing to let lesser things go. This is a key step. Once we know what is really important to us, we need to be willing to let go of the things that are not as important. For example, using the above illustration -- if vacation is a high value for my family, I may choose to not pay for cable TV and limit my entertainment budget so that I can save the money necessary for a decent vacation.
Or if cable TV is important, then I may choose not to do vacation. The problem comes when we take limited funds and try to do it all. If I want to enjoy my priorities I must be willing to eliminate or take much less in the other areas.
For my schedule, if these few things are important than I must be willing to say "no" to many other good things that "everybody else is doing!" The reason we're stressed is we've never prioritized how we spend our time and money and we end up getting sucked into a world system that really doesn't value our sanity.
3. Intentionally continue the process. Priorities are not a one time thing -- if you don't continue to come back to them, they will quickly get lost.
In the Bible in the book of Proverbs it says "without a vision, the people perish". If you don't know where you're going and what is important to you, you will quickly finding yourself "perishing".
I've found that in addition to setting priorities and letting go -- I still need to involve others. Without having friends speak into my life, ask good questions and remind me of what's important -- I would easily fall back into old patterns. This is one of the great things about being a part of a church -- I'm surrounded by good people who have great values and can speak into my life on a regular basis.
In addition to friends, Grace Church Roseville is about the Word of God, the Bible. The Bible guides us into who we were made to be and how we operate best as people: emotionally, physically, relationally etc. It's above us and not swayed by our emotional state or self-deception. God, through the Bible invites us into life, life the way God intended it.
Each week at Grace Church we examine what it has to say in an honest and immediately applicable/practical way. If you'd like to learn more about life and living according to God's design---you're welcome to join us!