Having the opportunity to work as an organizer and meet with women through my Mary & Martha business (www.mymaryandmartha.com/shana) I realize how this fast paced life we live keeps us from being aware of what we are doing. Choices get made, or choices get avoided. We often think that when we avoid choices/decisions, we are simply NOT making a decision. But the opposite is true. Most of the time, NOT making a decision is in all actuality making a really bad decision. Nothing is ever gained by avoidance. Nothing is ever gained by moving through life unaware.
I am a mom, wife, daughter, owner of two businesses, friend, Sunday School leader, speaker and sister/aunt. I know and study time management principles and strive to approach my days with wisdom, directed by the Holy Spirit. Yet, I too fall prey to just getting through the days/weeks/months too often unaware. I’m in a hurry so I say “yes” when the answer should be “let me get back to you” or “no”. I grab an unhealthy fast food item to eat in the car because I overbooked my day, leaving no white space (see previous post). I snap at my girls and husband because I am tired and have let household tasks pile up as a result of not taking my own advice and blocking off time for them.
The real tragedy comes in not stopping long enough to even know why we are doing what we are doing. And sadly, as Christians we often pile scripture on top of it all in an attempt to justify our hectic lives.
We get a flat tire on the side of the road with a car load of kids. We post to Facebook how “blessed” we are that this happened because along came some lonely older gentleman to help us and we got to witness to him. NOT. God doesn’t cause flat tires. God doesn’t desire flat tires. Yes, he can bring something good out of the situation if we respond in a biblical way to the situation. The reality though is we would not have put ourselves, the kids, others on the road at risk if we had been thinking about our hectic lives, paying attention to the fact our car needed maintenance. Being AWARE of our possessions and the care of them, aka the car, would have led us to make a best decision. Did God and can God redeem our bad decisions if we allow Him to? Of course He can.
We take our children out to eat after a full day of errands, preceded the day before by a late night at sports practice followed by a late dinner and homework. They proceed to throw a fit. We are too tired, or desperate for nourishment, to address them. We allow them to throw the fit, disrupting everyone else in the restaurant. We get upset at the couple two tables over for “glaring” at us. We remind ourselves that children are a gift from the Lord and we are busy and tired from all the things we are providing them in an attempt to raise them for His service. We remind ourselves that God is a loving God and we are to practice grace and forgiveness. Not faulty theology, but maybe just maybe, we need to step back and consider the poor choices that got our family to this place and consider our motives along the way. Would it be better for our kids to not be tired in the first place? Would it be better after a long two days for us to be eating at home around our own dinner table where we would relax, share in conversation and seek refuge?
We get to work having spilled our third cup of coffee for the morning all over our front seat and meeting notes for staff meeting. We’ve thrown the bible in the work bag, thinking will read it when we get to the office. Lunch has been left on the counter, along with our kids’ lunches, forgotten in the frenzied moment of yelling and pushing to get out the door late. the receptionist smiles and says good morning. We mumble, head down and slam the door to our office hoping for a moment of quiet, when in walks the employee needing guidance on the last project we gave them. We snap, we criticize. We quickly apologize and then begin to remind ourselves we just need to pull it together because “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” We decide to carry on, get over it, tell everyone else to get over it and move on. We ignore the underlying issues. Why are we late to school and work every day? Can we have Christ’s wisdom and strength if daily the quiet time in His word is laid to the side? Christ doesn’t promise to strengthen us for the crazy we let in our lives. He promises to strengthen us for His works, getting through this life in this fallen world with grace and hope and joy based upon believing faith. Again, wouldn’t it be better to remove some things from our calendar, determine what we can delegate and slow the pace of our lives down?
I’ve been there. I have done all of the above-except stay in the restaurant with screaming kids-too much of a people pleaser to have ever gone there! Skewing our theology, using scripture to justify or as a sword of judgement comes with fatigue, with lack of time in His word, with a rushed life. It comes with lack of awareness, being on auto pilot. When we fail to live life aware of our choices we need to BEWARE of all that will slip in, sucking life right out of us and those we love. Living life unaware costs us. It costs us in relationships. It costs us in health. It costs us financially.
As I seek JOY this year, I am reminded more than ever how important it is to be aware of what I am doing. It takes time. It means I have to step back and look at my life from the larger lens. It means I have to stop when I react in a way I don’t like and ask myself “why?”. It means making some tough decisions, letting go of some things or activities. It means focusing more on WHO God wants me to become, than what I am doing (even if I think I am doing it for Him). The process can be difficult because often I see my motives and how off base they are-wanting to impress, wanting recognition, needing to feel important. Other times I have to accept responsibility for outcomes brought on by letting others control me or influence me. This though is where I can claim His word. He will strengthen me to make the difficult decisions. He will work out for good those things in my life I lay at His feet, those choices made in the quiet time of reading His word, searching and seeking His wisdom and guidance. He will grant me rest as I make best decisions which honor Him and meet with the priorities He has entrusted to me. He will provide for my needs, not my wants and in Him I will find peace that surpasses all understanding.
I want to stand on His promises. I want to claim them. I can only do that by being AWARE of my moment to moment choices. I have to remember to BEWARE of the one that comes to mislead and steal. I will live AWARE.