"In a man's heart he plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9
(Side note: Please understand my husband is very much the spiritual leader of my home and he is intimately involved with these decisions. But I am writing from my vantage point. :) )
I didn't really set out to list my priorities and have them all organized and start pruning away at it until it looked like the life I felt called to create. I wish I could say I did because that makes a WHOLE lot of sense. I am getting there now to that place where I am starting to get a feel for the big picture and prune away to create something closer. There was no one crisis moment for my family that led us on this path. No, it was more of a gentle guiding from our Good Shepherd.
I kind of came in from the side. My kids provide my first "light bulb" moment and my church my second "light bulb" moment.
"You have made known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures for evermore." Psalm 16:11
It started with exhaustion. We, as a pretty typical homeschool family, were burning our candle on every end and even the middle. Soccer, baseball, basketball, dance, dance competitions, fields trips, art classes, instrument lessons, and anything else I could find filled our days and nights. There was the "appearance" of relationships but not a whole lot of time or energy for people outside of practices and rehearsals.
One day as I listened outside my daughter's Master Dance Class, I heard the instructor asking the students what there goals were for dance. I was shocked that my own daughter said, "I just want to dance for fun." Huh? Somewhere along the line I thought she had a certain dream that, as it turned out, didn't exist. I was also surprised that her little 9 year old heart had more clarity on the subject that I did! It set me on a path.
I made a questionnaire for each of the kids. I wish I still had it but it went something like this:
1. What are your activities?
2. What do you like/not like about each one? (I had them write about each one separately).
3. What are your future goals for each activity? Are they for fun? Do you wish to pursue them as a career?
4. What do you wish you had more time to do?
5. Do you ever wish you could spend more time at home? On church activities?
There were many shocking revelations that day. One of my children told us that he had lots of activities because he knew if he didn't he would have to live each day being dragged around to his siblings' activities. All of them across the board wanted more time to spend with friends or to invest in relationships. All of them loved time at church and wanted more.
So, I made a deal with them. If they would choose only the activities they LOVED, I would spend the time and money we saved pursuing what we actually wanted. We would stop wasting time doing these good things and do the BETTER things for us.
Thus, we started whittling away. Slowly and steadily over time we dropped basketball, baseball, dance, music lessons... We replaced it with getting to know our church family, days at the park playing soccer with friends in the field, ministry opportunities, hobbies around the house, campfires and movie nights, walks on the beach, more time with friends...
Having that spare time gave us all time to think. Personally it slowed me down enough to listen and hear God. It allowed us to take advantage of last minute opportunities when we were normally would have been booked (far in advance).
We had been in our present church for about a year when my "aha" moment came. My pastor and his wife are church planters. They have such a passion for people to find hope in Jesus. They have helped me to remember "my first love" and reignite my passion for my calling. I had let *interests* overtake *calling.* I really had lost my way and had the spiritual numb heart to prove it (no one's fault but my own I might add). My first year under them was really a time for God to lift the scales, scrape away the dead covering around my heart, and to remind who I was created to be, who my husband was created to be, and what we were trying to create with God in our kids.
"But I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love." Revelation 2:4
You see, I had never intended my life to be about "stuff," or "activities", or even "healthy pursuits". At the end of those healthy pursuits you're only healthy...nice...but a bit empty don't you think? It's all very temporal as well. I was really going for "eternal." Can those activities be intentional and missional and can you create the eternal within them? Yes. Were we? Um...to be fair, sometimes...but mostly no.
Have we arrived? Goodness, no. But I think we're on the right road. :)
Next time I'd like to talk about where I am at now, what my goals our, how it fits in with family life. :)