Updated: Jan 11, 2020
A few weeks ago, I finished a long, grueling summer camp season. Of all the things I do for my job, summer camps are not only the most time consuming, but they aren't even part of my salary position. In 14 days of camp/camp preparation, I arrive to work at 6:30 am and leave around 10:00 pm while averaging 8.6 miles of walking per day. My phone rings off the hook and it's not uncommon for me to look in my inbox and see 70+ emails. Once camps ended, Josh and I took a quick four day trip to Maine and then came back to get ready for volleyball and football season.
In short, I have not had a lot of time to myself lately. I'm trying desperately to get back on a routine of scheduled meals, workouts, reading, and prayer time. It's amazing what you can forget. I literally forgot how to get up in the morning and not run around like a crazy person trying to get out the door. I forgot how to sit down and eat a meal. I forgot how to do a body weight workout. Around day ten of relearning intentionality, I posted this on Instagram.
I got a lot of feedback from this one. It obviously resonated with a lot of people, but I think the real blessing was that someone finally said it-- balance is a lie. Especially for us mamas, balance is a word that is easily used for shame. If you can't meditate, workout, feed and wash your children, get to work on time, eat three healthy meals, and get your inbox to zero in a day's time, you must be doing something wrong. Even if all of that could be achieved in one day, a day like that is not repeatable.
Life is seasonal! We cannot worry if we are doing the right things. We need to worry about whether we are in the right season. Seasons tell us what seeds to sow which yields desirable crop. If we try to plant seed that's out of season, the crop (read: our lives) will be fruitless.
So how do we figure out what season we are in? PRIORITIES. Asking and answering this question everyday: what is important to me? I have spent so much of my life not knowing what's important to me because I never asked myself that question. I never took the time to look in my immediate surroundings and evaluate how I can make the biggest impact or how I can grow as a person. I can tell you, during summer camps, my workout life was at the bottom of the priority list. I couldn't afford to give one minute to exercise because I needed to prioritize rest. If that meant closing my eyes for 15 minutes on a lunch break, that's what I did. When I went to Maine with Josh after camp, work was at the bottom of my list. I didn't answer the phone or emails almost the entire time. And I missed things! Stuff happened that I probably should have acted on, but I was on vacation trying desperately to reconnect with my husband who, for the two weeks prior, only said goodbye in the mornings on my way to work. I hate that I missed some things, but as far as I know, the world did not collapse.
While in Maine, I did some thinking. I came to terms that I can't check every box everyday, so maybe I just need to decide what boxes need to be checked. I stopped asking myself how I would get it all done and exchanged it for am I in the right season? I felt like my days were jam-packed with tasks and seemingly urgent things, but when I reflected back on how my time was spent, I felt like I was doing what everyone else wanted me to do. I felt like other people got to decide how my time was spent, which ultimately made me feel like I wasn't serving myself or anyone else. I had to sit down and think about how I should spend my 24 hours.
My criteria for choosing the activities for each season consists of remembering God, myself, and others.
Remembering God means praying first thing in the morning. Before I started this, I think I chose to believe that I had a prayer life. But when I really thought about how much uninterrupted prayer time I had in a week, it was not enough to be honest with God about what was on my heart. Even if I only have five minutes, I have to tell God that I plan to give the day to Him. I then asked God to guide my thinking and decisions to best service the things that are important to me.
Remembering myself means realizing that I can't pour from an empty glass. The older I get, the more I realize how much planning portions of my day for myself keeps me sane. Reading a book, exercising, or writing on this blog refreshes me and reminds me that I have a creative side that shouldn't be ignored. I can honestly say that ignoring my creative side has led to real seasons of depression. I guilted myself out of doing enjoyable things because I had no boundaries. These seasons were filled with chronic fatigue, crying for no reason, and no one could cheer me up.
Remembering others means taking the refocus from prayer and the recharging from my me time and using that for meaningful action that services others. I no longer try to get everything checked off my to-do list. Instead, I try to accomplish things that set people up for their own success. Sometimes that means voicing my opinion in a senior staff meeting, other times that means getting all of Josh's clothes washed and put away. My heart stays pure when the common denominator is interceding on the behalf of others.
So as I evaluate my life's seasons, I ask myself questions like What do I need to give to God? What's making me feel so tired? What nights can I spend some real quality time with Josh/kids?
Answers to questions like this will inevitably change due to seasons. If I am working camps, I am justifiably tired and will not stop being tired until it's over. If I am tired but I'm having normal days at work and at home, I need to adjust to the season as soon as possible.
Life is seasonal. When you can give a lot to your family, give a lot to your family. When it's time to give a lot to your job, give a lot to your job. Since both obligations require your time and attention everyday, pray and plan how much time you need to give to each area. My days are too short to spend them guilty about how my time is spent. Take charge of your time so the things you need to get done are done in the name of serving others and serving your