By Jolene Engle, Contributing Writer
I’m not fond of living in chaos. A rushed life. Frazzled. Always behind. This way of life leaves me feeling defeated in all my roles.
Most women fill the following roles:
Daughter of the Most High God.
Possible work at home mom or work outside of the home.
Woman in ministry.
The list could go on with all the areas that we manage…
And sometimes this list is a lot to balance and juggle in the day to day life. Often times I have felt like I was going to lose my mind in all of the juggling.
Something needed to change because I felt like a failure. Overwhelmed with life. Constantly drowning in my responsibilities.
If you’re a woman, am I speaking your language?
Here is what I’ve learned to do in my own life so I wouldn’t lose it.
- Know the ‘why’. Why am I getting up early? Why am I spending time with the Lord? Why am I considering my husband’s needs, the needs of my kids, etc.
Your life and my life will look different because we will have different priorities and different callings, but we have the same Savior. And our hearts should want to spill out to give Him glory in all we do. (Even if it is cleaning a toilet!)
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. Col. 3:23,34
- Keep first things, first. If I seek to prioritize my responsibilities rather than try to balance them, then I find that my attitude and actions are generally much more loving. My heart and disposition is calm rather than chaotic and I don’t feel nearly overwhelmed with life. When I try to take the ‘balance’ approach in life I feel like I’m pursuing some elusive goal that I can’t attain.
- For me, if I wake early and spend time in the Word, then my spiritual cup is filled, therefore I can supernaturally pour into others.
- When I exercise in the morning, this gets my body in motion. Exercising my body helps me to move about in my day as I clean my home and prep for meals. (And wrangle a few boys. :)) When I skip the exercise, lethargy overtakes me and the last thing I want to do is work hard in my home. I can totally see the difference in my productivity levels when I do and don’t exercise.
- I find out from my husband what he needs from me. This could be something I asked him about the night before, or a conversation I’ve had with him throughout the years so I would know his preferences. Is he around for breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Does he need something from the store? What are his priorities for our marriage and family life?
- Then I look at my schedule. Are my boys at activities that I need to drive them to? Are there meetings I need to attend? Or is laundry on the schedule for that day? Or is it meal-planning? Grocery shopping?
I have learned over the years that my schedule will change due to the age of my children or perhaps some of the trials we’re living through, like managing my health or dealing with a season of financial hardship.
And then I use this mental image to help me out. Let me share it with you.
Imagine you’re holding a plate in your hand. Now put the most important thing on your plate first.
For example, your time with God would be the main course.
Then add your husband and his needs, as well as your desires for your relationship.
Then add the kids’ needs (obviously if you’re dealing with a sick child, you take care of them first!)
Then your home. The cleaning of it. The laundry. The grocery shopping, etc. In my life, I have certain days when I plan to do these things. And sometimes when I’m too lazy for the planning, I then cause my own chaos! I get behind and that’s when I start to juggle everything.
If you’re working inside or outside the home, you’ll have to add this to your plate.
If you’re involved in ministry, like me, then you need to make sure this does not supersede your first ministries.
All of the above can be managed on one plate, but if some portions are too big, your plate will eventually crack. And that’s when we lose it! For example, sometimes we over commit by signing our children up for too many outside activities. Or we say yes to too many church functions. Or we get involved in too many ministries. When these things happen, our priorities become out of whack.
I have found that I keep my priorities in order best when I do three things:
- I plan and schedule my days and responsibilities.
- I prepare the night before, meaning, I need to get to bed on time so I can tackle the next day without feeling like I’m already behind.
- I consider my plate. If it’s too full, I freely say ‘no’ to men because I’m ultimately saying ‘yes’ to God.
Sure, there will be seasons of our lives where we will feel like we’re living in chaos, but these seasons shouldn’t be the norm. If this is your norm, perhaps try some planning or consider taking things off of your plate. It’s okay to say no to a request, even if it’s a worthwhile one.
Now it’s your turn. Are you living in calm or chaos? Is it chaos because of a season, or lack of planning, or because you don’t even know where to even begin? I’d love to hear your thoughts.