It’s Monday and Monday is usually a fresh start for me. I love Mondays.
Today, I woke up feeling hunched over. Pushed down. And the funny thing is, it’s not my immediate circumstances that feel weighty. My life is really pretty solid right now. It’s the stuff outside and the process of determining what gets to come inside.
Politics are driving me crazy. I’m passionate about most things – it’s a good and bad thing in me – and I therefore have a pretty strong opinion about every thing I read or see flying around on facebook. I even have an opinion about your opinion, though I’m better about letting that go than I’ve ever been. Today I’m wondering, how much should I care about this Very Big Deal in our country? How much should I pray, how much should I say, how much more noise does this thing really need?
Social issues are weighty and pressing. Syria, orphans, human trafficking, racial tensions and our country’s divided view of their reality, ALS and other deadly diseases, lack of clean water, the need for young women to get an education…everything is important. Most of these things even carry life-and-death consequences.
And people. People right here in my city are hurting – longing for connection and community. I get emails nearly every day, asking for a coffee meeting to talk about why I think the Bible is absolutely true or could I call someone’s friend who was just diagnosed with cancer or connect with someone’s daughter who just moved to Bend and has no friends. They are all good, kind requests and any one of them is possible in my schedule, but not the bulk of them and so the decision about what to let inside becomes a weight in itself.
When Steve died, I sat down and wrote some things I definitely wanted for my new, single life. At the top of the list: Well-ordered priorities. In my world right now, the priorities are currently:
- My own health and healing – spiritual, emotional, physical. If this one doesn’t work, none of the rest work either.
- Parenting well – the sense of responsibility I feel as the only parent is not something I could easily describe. It’s just very, very real.
- My job, which both pays the bills and provides a great sense of purpose and fulfillment.
- My tribe. They are people who have been with me through thick and thin and have a voice into my life. They often serve as a Steve surrogate, listening to my heart and helping separate the wheat from the chaff. I would say there are about two dozen people in this category and they are GOLD to me and not easily replaced. But like all relationships, they don’t maintain themselves. They require time and nourishment and conversation.
- The ALS Community. I will almost always push an ALS need to the top of the pile. The disease is so vicious and rare, that those going through it are desperate for mentors and encouragers and I want to be one of those, but I do often wonder how to fit it all in.
And then there’s Number 6. Number 6 is where my problems start. It’s the blank space, the open territory that could be occupied by politics or coffee with young women who want to be pastors or research on the Syrian civil war. Number 6 could be almost anything, because after the first five everything else is somewhat equal. But the problem is when, like today, Number 6 becomes weightier than the main list. There’s something about it’s lack of definition that makes it noisier than those others. Maybe it’s because the first five have been around a long time and can seem like they’re doing fine compared to Syrian refugees. That blank space has an of-the-moment appeal that moves my short attention span toward shiny things.
One thing I know for certain is true: I only have a certain amount of seed (time, talent, treasure) to sow and I can’t magically create more. I can only use what’s left after the others are well cared for. Number 6, therefore, is a daily exercise in listening to the Holy Spirit for what I should do with this handful of seed. Where will it land and grow most effectively? What are my motives in sowing? I recently spent hours on a blog post about my current political leanings only to realize: this isn’t going to help anyone. My motives in writing it were, frankly, to spout off and look smart. The end result was two hours of seed, thrown to the wind. Sigh.
So, that’s my thing today. What to do with Number 6. Have you found a good way to order your priorities and deal with the onslaught of seed-hungry opportunities? I’d love to hear about it. Help a sister out.