As a mom, don't you feel like we are constantly juggling balls in the air? Often our family activities and schedules are enough to challenge any professional juggler. But unless I am careful, it is very easy for me to get wrapped up in the activities of home and forget that as important as that work is, God may have other work He wants me to do with my life. Without this outward focus, it is easy to become ingrown. In fact, I have found that usually being involved in some type of service or ministry, though stretching me in terms of time, is very good for my morale and well-being. It reminds me that my life, though small, matters in the lives of others. However, I will admit that there is also the danger of being addicted to ministry or service as well so that we fail to keep our priorities in line. I have been there too. There's a "high" that comes when you know that what you are doing is making a difference. For me, I need to really watch out for myself, that I don't overcommit myself to doing too much. If I do, I need to make sure that I ask the Lord to examine my motives and reasons for getting involved.
With all this juggling and balance, life feels like a circus! (Hopefully, I'm not the clown!) How do I know what to do and what not to do? A few thoughts come to mind:
1. Keep the big picture in mind, then make sure all that you do fits in that picture.
Sometimes our biggest trouble is getting sucked into serving as room mom or PTA secretary or hosting a Bible study or whatever because someone guilted you into it. One thing that has helped me a lot is knowing what God has created me for and then evaluating each activity in light of it. Sometimes this makes it easy to see what is definitely not for me to be doing. At least, not right now.
2. Limit big or long-term commitments.
For me, my limit is one. One small group. One class. One event. I have found that too much more and something else (usually relating to the priorities I already have written about) gets shoved aside. If you are able to do more, then kudos to you. The actual limit isn't what matters. It is knowing what it is and sticking to it.
For example, over the next few months, I have committed to teach a class for moms during the Sunday school hour. And that's all I'm doing. To accomodate the extra prep and study time required, I have chosen then to drop my participation at our church's MOPS group. But that decision didn't come without a struggle. I didn't want to give it up. I had been going for the past 2 1/2 years and I couldn't imagine not going. Not to mention that Jonathan would miss out as well.
But I sensed strongly that God wanted me to teach again. I also know that when He speaks, I need to listen. With this new responsibility, I have found my time and schedule stretched to the max. I am sad to have to miss out on some time out with other moms, but I also have a peace of heart that this is God's plan for me.
3. Give yourself permission to not do everything.
Say it with me again, moms. "I do not have to do everything." Period. Just say no. God will still love you. Your kids will survive.
4. Whatever you do commit to, do it with all your heart, as for the Lord and not for men. (Col. 3:23)
This year, I think there are two main things He wants me to do: build up the ministry here at Mom University by developing my core 101 classes (there are five). The second ministry is to focus on Anah when she comes home. When she arrives, I will probably scale back for a bit so that I can care for her. Until then, I believe God has a job for me to do here. All the rest, I most likely will have to decline.
It has been said that if the enemy can't get you through destruction, he will get you through distraction. Some of us have wonderful opportunities to serve. But instead of choosing the best and letting go of the rest, we try to do it all, often to the detriment of the things we want to do the most.
What do you think God wants you to be doing this year? Care for your aging parents? Take time off to enjoy your toddler? Start a small group for the women in your neighborhood? If you're not sure, ask Him. And then whatever He shows you, do it with all your heart. When you sense that something is keeping you off track, have the courage to prune it from your life, even if it is good, so that you can produce the best fruit.