A Balancing Act

 {photo via here}

It's no secret that I like to organize as you can see from last week's project.  Anything around the house is fair game.  One of my favorite sayings is, "A place for everything and everything in its place."  Too bad my husband can't read my mind to find out where some of these places are.  Shouldn't it be obvious that the three pair of scissors we own are equidistant from each other in three different places in the house?

Husband asks on any particular day: "Where are the good scissors?"    
My response: "In the wrapping closet (of course)." 

Why they are not downstairs in the kitchen junk drawer or in the office closet that holds all the other supplies makes sense to me.   Because I was the one to evaluate each pair of scissors and determine what they would best be used for and where to keep them that would be most convenient for my purposes.  But to my husband who prefers to use the good pair of scissors, it doesn't make much sense to keep them upstairs in the "wrapping closet."  Thus begins the balancing act of organizing.  What good is being so organized that no one can find anything? 

Life is the same way.  We strive to organize our day, our priorities and the way we spend our time on a regular basis.  Sometimes we overcompensate.  Several years ago, my husband was gone on work trips that were much longer than they are now.  I was working full time during the day and to keep my evenings full I kept signing up for sports and activities during weeknights.  Before long, I was playing soccer twice a week and enrolled in ballet classes, pilates and volleyball once a week.  I was never home.  I went to lunch with my Bible fellowship teacher one day and she gave me some good advice about my busy schedule.  She said I needed to fast from all my activities in order to pray and ask the Lord which activities I needed to give up and which ones I should continue.  I'll be honest, I didn't appreciate this advice very much.  I wasn't going to give up my activities - they were FUN and filled my evenings while my husband was away.  What did it matter anyway?  It wasn't like these activities were taking away from our time together?  Or were they?  

The Lord slowly began to show me why I didn't need to be involved in so many activities and the importance of being home even if I was alone.  It gave me time to get things done at home so when my husband returned we could spend quality time together.  After all, I am his helper not the other way around.  I was wanting him to help me with the home priorities when he returned from a trip.  Kind of like a 50/50 mentality.   Titus 2:5 says women should be "busy at home."  Instead of trying to split the tasks down the middle, I focused on doing the most I could in order to assist him.  And then, whenever he helps out around the home, and he does a lot, it is appreciated and not expected. 

I didn't fully embrace my role as helper until I stopped working full-time and went part-time a couple years ago.  I had sensed the Lord wanting me to cut back at work for awhile but I resisted.  Aren't women supposed to work full-time until they have children and then become stay-at-home-moms?  I read something recently that our first priority is to be a stay-at-home-wife.  Our culture puts all the focus on the kids as if that dictates when you should stop and start working.  Work until you have children.  Stop working when you have them.  Then when they turn five and start school, (you) go back to work.  In Scripture, God places the emphasis on the marriage relationship.  We should be stay-at-home-moms because we are stay-at-home-wives first.  The emphasis is on being the helper.  We help our husbands by also taking care of the children.  If our #1 priority is on the kids, then even if we are staying at home we can be neglecting our husbands.  I'm not saying that it is wrong to work if you have kids.  I'm not saying it's wrong to spend the majority of your day taking care of your little ones.  What I am saying is that we can be doing the right things in the wrong order.  We are first called to be a helper to our husbands.  The original language implies a strong helper.  And for me to be a strong helper in this particular season, it meant cutting back in one area in order to be available to help him.  Our husbands should never take second place to anything other than our relationship to God.

Two weekends ago I attended the Priscilla Shier women's conference at Central Church.  She shared some wise counsel with us that she had received herself on this very topic.  We all can organize our life into containers or boxes of the things we do and are involved in. And when we get all the boxes full in each area of our life, we feel like that is success.  When in reality it is CHAOS.  We cannot have every box filled to the brim because then there is no space in our lives.  What we should be doing is taking our containers to the Lord on a regular basis and asking Him what we should be doing right now in this season of life.  And when He fills our hours and days we might look at a few of the boxes and they will appear frighteningly low to us.  Our life will at times look unbalanced in the world's eyes.  But that is where we will find balance.  Knowing that it is okay to have some space in the boxes.  If you have an infant, your box labeled "HOME" will most likely be very full at the moment.  And your box labeled "CHURCH/ MINISTRY" might be lower than you are used to.  That service project might have to take place without your involvement.  And if you are wanting your "HOME" life to be fuller than it is right now and looking forward to the day you have little feet running around your house, you might notice that "MINISTRY" options have opened up for this particular season.  God may be bringing opportunities your way because you have an open box to receive it in.

The amazing thing is we organize our closets several times a year (some of us that is ☺) and don't take time to pray about the compartments of our life.  Priscilla Shier advised we should sense God's activity before we join a new activity.  Instead of our first reaction being "YES" to new commitments, it needs to be "NO" unless we sense God already moving and encouraging us to invest our time and join Him in His work. 

Comments

  1. Thanks for this! So much to unpack here and think on. I was never that mom who could work part-time, teach sunday school, bake cookies, go on vacations without the kids, help out with ministries, and always get dinner on the table without missing a beat. Multi-tasking is not my thing. But because I tend to practice more of an "attachment parenting" style, I have to be careful not to drain all my energy away from my husband and into the children, particularly in their first year of life. I remember when I started changing my approach to housework so that I could bear that load more adequately. I had to get a better strategy about the practical needs of the house in order to compensate for what it took to feed, nurture, and parent the children during the day. I had to prioritize the chores for one thing rather than look at every day as a day to get it all done (which just overwhelmed me and made me less efficient). Marrying someone with a servant heart has made me want to think quicker on my feet and be more diligent. It is easy to settle into a position of receiving rather than go the extra mile for him. I am thankful for how God has helped us learn to be a team and that there is a real unified mentality about what faithfulness looks like. A lot of dads will check out and leave the parenting to the mom and a lot of moms will check out and leave dad to fend for himself without a support and a helpmeet.

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  2. I LOVED this post! I always enjoy your insight in things! This one really hit home. Thanks for posting it!!

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  3. So encouraging and challenging. Thanks Melissa!

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  4. I stumbled across Jenny's blog, and she had a link to this post. Thank you so much for sharing. I live in an environment where I'm definitely the minority without children... and I work a part time job from home... and my hubby is gone most of the time too. It's like so many people think I should sign up for everything and work a million jobs. Thank you for sharing this healthy perspective. look forward to reading more of your posts :)

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