I feel as if I stay two steps behind my life. I never can quite catch up and this perplexes me. Years ago I wrote a post lamenting a similar state wherein I compared my life to spinning plates on poles–which plate will fall? That I would feel overwhelmed in that stage of life makes sense to me. None of the children could drive, for instance, and thus I spent much of my time getting in and out of the suburban and shuffling kids to school and home from school, to practice and home from practice, to games and, well, you get the picture. My life and my calendar were crazy, no two ways about it.
Now, however, I am a stay at home mom of nearly grown children. In fact, as I confessed last week, I can only claim the stay at home mom title for two more years. Then I suppose I will be…what, exactly? A housewife? Regardless the fact remains that much, okay most, of my time is as free as it’s ever been. Yet I feel caught in the tension of a constant trade off. If I clean house, that means I do not prepare for Bible study that day. If I run all the necessary and troublesome errands, the laundry suffers. Some days I feel like I have to choose who or what I will be that day: Bible student? Friend? Homemaker? The days seem too short to do and be it all.
I’m frustrated. And I do realize that this kind of freedom to choose how I spend my time is an indicator of wealth and affluence. I daresay only a small percentage of women around the world enjoy such freedom of choice. In other words, I’m privileged and I’m spoiled. Thus I’m not only frustrated I’m also embarrassed by my whining.
I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. I could surely benefit from a well constructed organizational system, a plan to keep me on track and on task. The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time and all that. I don’t discount the wisdom of timetables and schedules, and I freely confess my lack of eagerness to pursue that kind of help may be somewhat lazy on my part.
I’ve been thinking over my pastor’s recent sermons on prayer. He asserted that one reason why many of us struggle with prayer is not that we need to pray more but that we need to learn to pray rightly. To pray rightly is to pray with an eye to the kingdom, to frame our petitions with the advance of the gospel. Ask your heavenly Father for whatever you wish, He surely invites such petition, but ask for His kingdom to come and His will to be done. Pray for healing of your loved ones but pray that they might be healed so that they might serve the Lord in strength. Pray for the new job or the promotion but ask for it so that with greater influence and a greater income you might be able to give more to the work of the kingdom.
When we pray like this we can trust God when He doesn’t give us the things we think we want or need. We can know that either we don’t need it to serve Him and His kingdom or, worse, it would be harmful to us. Praying in this way teaches us to pray after His priorities and according to what He finds delight in. We will ask for greater love for Him for His word and for each other and for the lost and for the spread of the gospel and for all peoples to know Him. We learn that our greatest need and greatest desire become intertwined: the glory of God in Christ.
I want this transformation not only in my commune with God through prayer but in the craziness of my daily, busy life. Just as I am to pray with an eye to the kingdom, I want to also approach the tasks of my life with a kingdom perspective. I want to understand that efficiency and fruitfulness and productivity in God’s economy may not always look like a completed to do list but will always seek His glory and the good of others. When I am overwhelmed and frustrated, may I remember what’s really important: love of Christ and love for others. Even the seemingly boring and mundane aspects of being a stay at home mom become a holy offering when I see them framed in the gospel.
Why I cannot seem to stay on top of my life and my responsibilities therein may remain a perennial mystery to me. But I want to approach each day, whether I do and be all I think I should, with a heart for the kingdom and for the glory of Christ.