It’s amazing how life has dramatically shifted for me in the past five years. I went from being in college, having the world at my fingertips, and all the time I needed to do whatever it was I wanted–to being a wife and a mom with one glorious little portion of each afternoon designated to myself: nap time. For three years the question was, what to do at nap time? Most days I spent it working out and showering and fixing dinner. But I found that with the birth of our son, I had to become even more intentional about my time.
Some people are really good at planning. Not me. In fact, if you give me a plan I take a little bit of joy in rebelling against it. I am awful at following homework to Bible studies, recipes for meals, run plans for half marathon training, diet plans for meals. Seriously. I’ve talked to Jesus about it, and I think I’m getting a little breakthrough. So planning out my time is hard for me. I take no pleasure in it. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve had to do it. It’s crazy how sometimes with life I don’t have a game plan. I let days slip through my fingers, instead of squeezing the proverbial juice out of every day. One of my favorite pastors, Bill Johnson, says that “the mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.” I think the same can be said of time. Time is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. If I’m always racing and rushing and attempting to fit things in, I end the day fatigued and rather cranky. But, if I wake up early, prioritize my time, and carefully sort through my priorities–I end up mastering the time in my life.
A few weeks ago our pastor gave a message about time management, where he asked us to examine our lives and decide what the “big rocks” were (the main priorities) and whether or not the way we spend our time reflects the importance of those big rocks. It was actually a helpful exercise, and my husband and I went home and talked about it. As Chad and I talked, we realized that our long term goals of life are only met by the daily disciplines we follow. I can talk about being godly until I’m blue in the face–but if I forget to spend time with Him every day, I won’t become like Him. I can talk about being fit, but if I never step on a treadmill or into a gym, it’s not going to just happen. We tend towards disorder.
Together, we wrote out our daily priorities. Not just our life goals, but our actual daily priorities. What do we absolutely want done in the next 24 hours? If you haven’t done this recently, take some time today and do it. It’s so worth it! Ask yourself the question, “Am I making these things true priorities and spending the bulk of my time here? Or am I filling my time with social media, TV shows, and aimless puttering about shopping malls and errands?” Your list might look a little different from mine. That’s ok. But I think it’s good to have a plan. Like Proverbs 29:18 says, “Without a vision, the people perish.” We were made to have vision for life, and to examine our lives closely. (1 Timothy 4:16)
Our priority time list:
1. Time in the Word: We both agreed time with Jesus is non-negotiable. In the past six months, I’ve been getting up an hour before our kids, and spending time with the Lord. It was hard the first week, but now it’s such a rhythm that I actually HATE mornings where I oversleep. It’s never worth the sleep I get. I could try and do it at nap time, but I find that at nap time, I’m more easily distracted, and there are a million other things that could pop up and steal my attention. So I do it first. We like to call it the first fruit of our day. God gave us a new day, we dedicate our first conscious hour of it to the One who made it. In the Gospels, it frequently mentions how Jesus got up early, while it was still dark to go and pray. If Jesus needed it first, so do I. There is nothing genius about the idea of applying this verse–millions of Christians all over the world are doing it too, and I find strange comfort in that.
2. Intentional time as a family: For me, this looks like putting my phone away, putting my lists away, and getting on the floor with my babies and letting them run all over me. Letting Cade pull my hair, and letting Eden dress me up like a princess. For our family, it also meant cancelling cable. I will not be dictated by a small box in our living room. It will not run my life, my time, and it will not serve as a makeshift mom. It means telling Eden Bible stories and praying with her before nap time; it means turning off the car TV and the music and just listening to her sweet, innocent chatter from the backseat. And when Daddy gets home, it means celebrating when he walks through the door. It means both of us putting our phones and computers away once the kids are asleep and connecting intentionally, asking simple questions like, “How was your day?” It’s so easy. But it’s so hard to be intentional to do these things on a wind-swept day when life comes racing at you a million miles a minute.
3. Fitness. On every level, working out helps me. It helps me feel accountable for my body, it helps me feel accomplished, it helps me feel attractive to my husband. If I don’t prioritize getting a work out in, I get grumpy. I end up feeling lazy and out of control, so I prioritize working out. We make space in our budget for a gym membership, and I researched until I found a gym that has sweet women in the childcare who know my kids and treat them well. I don’t wait until my husband gets home, toss the kids at him, and run out the door for a workout… I do it ahead of time so I can actually connect with him and check it off the list. For me, this helps my patience level with my kids as well.
4. Output time in the lives of others. I don’t like to let a day slip by where I haven’t encouraged someone. It’s easy to get holed up in my house (especially in a snow-laden winter) and forget the outside world. But I find that if all I do is receive from Jesus and everyone else without giving something out, I get kind of spiritually obese. I need to give away what I’m learning, what I’m feeling, what I’m growing in. So I try to text, call, or meet with at least one person during the day in an intentional way. Not a shoot the breeze, aimless way. And no, this doesn’t mean checking Instagram, Facebook, or twitter. I try to check social media once a day. Literally. Once. It silences a lot of the meaningless noise in my brain and helps me have space to think, pray, dream, imagine–in essence, to just be.
So make your list, and rearrange your time. There is not supposed to be shame and condemnation in this exercise, it’s just supposed to be new wind in the sails of your heart to go where you ought to go. If you’re straying from your true course, just adjust your direction and keep going. The best thing about God is that He gives us a new day every day, to start fresh and move forward. Let’s do it together!
Copyright © Charis Freije, Busy Moms of Faith®, All Rights Reserved