“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard is figuring out what you are willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.”
I read this quote in a book last week during my time of searching. I needed to read this. I was overwhelmed. Two days earlier I had walked outside and my pool had gone from a nice teal color that definitely showed signs of needing attention to lake water green which screamed for help! It was the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back." According to an internet site, this saying refers to a small and seemingly insignificant addition to a burden that renders it too much to bear, the small thing which causes failure, or causes inability or unwillingness to endure any more of something. That was where I was. I had had enough. I was tired of taking care of this house and yard. I was tired of being a single, divorced mother of two. Then I started thinking about "this time last year." I never had to worry about the yards. During my Thanksgiving break, I was busying myself around the house, cleaning and decorating for Christmas. I was shopping and wrapping presents. Never did I know what would lie ahead for me in the coming weeks.
I had to snap out of that thinking. I can't go back. This is where I am. I have to deal with it and move forward. So when I read the quote, it almost jumped off the page at me.
What do I want my life to be about? The author of that quote is so right! That is the easy part. I want to be a mother that enjoys her children, not one that is constantly on edge. I want to serve God. I want to spend more time reading, praying, writing and discovering His plan for my life. I want to help others through these murky waters of life. I want to be the teacher that challenges students academically and inspires and motivates them to be better citizens. Finally, one day I hope that God would see fit to allow me to be a wife again. That is a pretty big list.
Now, the hard part. What am I willing to give up? I have given up the conviction that my house has to be immaculate. I can't deal with chaos. However, if the counters are fairly clean and there is only enough hair on the bathroom floor to make half a wig, then it will be okay. My yards are not going to look like Southern Living yards as they once did. I did deal with the pool, but right now my beds need pine straw in them, and that is how they are going to stay. I am giving up my propensity to say "yes" to anything anyone asks me to do. I just am not able to do all the things I used to do. The hardest thing to give up was one of our animals. We decided that we needed to find a home for the Nala, our cat. While it was a hard decision, we found a wonderful home for her where she is loved and cared for. Finally, I asked the girls if it would be okay if we did not drag the endless Christmas decorations from the attic and spend countless hours decorating only to take it all down in a few weeks. They were thrilled with the idea. I think they knew how much they would have to be involved in this process and were more than happy to give up the Norman Rockwell image of Christmas. I looked at them and said, "I am already giddy about not having to take everything down after Christmas!" I promise we are not Scrooges! We were blasting Christmas carols at the top of our lungs yesterday. And we have already started celebrating Christmas with our friends and enjoying their decorations. This decision was not about "not celebrating." It was simply about taking something off my plate. So that is a start, and it is a big one.
I know that my list of "what I want to do" and "what I am willing to give up" will change from time to time. It all depends on where God has me at any particular point in my life. But my life lesson that I learned through my time of searching last week was this: I am only one person. There are only so many hours in a day. I have to seek God and make a decision about what I can and should be doing with those few precious hours. I found the following verse that relates to this topic.
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.
One commentator on this passage has this today. "Time is a talent given us by God, and it is misspent and lost when not employed according to His design." It can't be said any better than that. Let all of us who call ourselves Christians strive to spend our days according to HIS design for our lives!