I was asked to speak recently at a church women’s event, one of my favorite things to do. With the holidays upon us, I was asked to speak on surviving the holidays. For most of us that is exactly how it feels-like we are just surviving. Much of life used to be that way for me as a strove to find success in my career, sought to have the cleanest house and most organized pantry. Life was often nothing more than moving from task to task, falling into bed exhausted, praying for a little respite to come my way.
God’s plan for our lives holds so much more than that. There are no promises of pain free, sorrow-less days, but there is the promise of transformation, healing, strength, hope and joy. We are reminded life is lived in the ordinary moments of our days as we love others.
There is a way to develop habits and lifestyle which lead to more than just surviving the days, the holidays. I’ve not perfected it for myself, but it gives me a guide, an accountability tool to use. As we plan our days, determine our “to do” list, we need to filter everything through the PLAN.
L: Limits/Letting Go
Purpose and Priorities. Too often we move through life allowing others to determine our choices and actions. We say “yes” in order to please, gain a sense of accomplishment, fit in with a group, to avoid guilt, and the list goes on. We give no thought to our purpose and priorities.
As I have sought to simplify my life and live a more organized life that reflects who I am as a Christian woman I have come to realize I must spend time here-in this place of determining priorities. Scripture tells me I am to place Christ first, which means daily I must spend time with Him, study Him, seek Him. Then I must care for those He has entrusted to me, my family. I then consider the gifts and talents He has given me and consider ways to use those gifts to serve others, whether it is through paid employment or volunteer work. When you set these priorities and limit your “yes” to only those things you have talents and gifts for, it really isn’t hard to determine priorities. (The next step will be critical, so come back Monday.) Interestingly, for those of us who call ourselves, believers, the priorities are pretty much the same. He has a clear road map in the Bible. The only real variance is the latter, using our specific gifts and talents.
To live according to our purpose and priorities, we must allow God to transform us. Transformation begins with the renewing or our minds, thus the scripture reading, bible study, prayer and corporate fellowship. Scripture also tells us the heart is the wellspring of life. While we want to think through our decisions carefully, often those “best yes” decisions are the ones made with our whole being. The one that just “feels” right as it aligns with our minds. Those decisions you can smile at, settle into like a warm blanket on a cold winter night. The one that when carried out gives deep satisfaction, peace and joy.
I have come to ask myself this very important question as I try to make that final determination between “want to” and priority. Will doing this “thing” affect someone’s body, mind or spirit. If not, if it only affects me or has no real relational value, then I don’t do it. It simply isn’t part of how God has designed us. Now lest you think that means you can quit cleaning toilets, exercising or all that other mundane, not so much fun stuff, stop and think. As a wife and mother (or husband and father) the care of my home impacts my family’s mind, body and spirit. A clean, well managed home provides them a place of shelter in which to find safety, rest, health. It is a place meant to refresh and prepare them to go out and carry out their purpose and priorities. Exercise helps me maintain or regain strength. It offers an opportunity to release stress and ensure my cardiovascular system is staying healthy. I can then serve better, care for others better. I can inspire or encourage those around me to do the same for themselves.
Get it? Setting our purpose and priorities is about perspective. To have the right perspective you have to stop and give it thought, look in scripture for guidance and seek His counsel that your mind may be transformed and your life may spring up from within your heart. That is the place of peace and joy. That is the place that even when tragedy or mishaps occur you can carry on.
What are your purposes and priorities this holiday? Have you given it any thought? Mine are:
- Create a home environment in which friends and family find peace.
- Keep our schedule open enough we have time to fellowship one on one, with family and close friends.
- Establish times to serve as a family, remembering Christ came to love, to serve and to save.
Set your “P” today. Don’t rush into the holiday one more day. Step back, get some perspective and decide your purpose.