Great. I had my plan.
And then real life happened.
What, exactly, matters the most? Is it my precious health? Because it requires some time to exercise and eat right. What about the time it takes to keep my home running smoothly? And how about my husband and kids? They sure take up a lot of time. And then there is my volunteer time to civic and religious causes. And what about this blog and business – this creation of mine that makes me so incredibly happy and fulfilled? Focus on what matters most? Easier said than done.
I’m sure you can relate.
So almost as if in answer to my dilemma, one of my ecclesiastical leaders made this statement (and I don’t think the words he used was any coincidence. This was definitely for me.) He said, “What matters most is what lasts the longest.”
Bam! Instant perspective.
You can’t acquire a lifetime of experience in 37 years, so I realize I don’t have all of the answers. But what I can do is look back at what I’ve learned so far. In terms of what lasts the longest, the priorities fall easily into place. I can clean and organize my home (even with professional training!) and sadly, it can fall into disarray. I can create a business with a beautiful mission, but if I were to close up shop today, that business would cease to exist. I can give my heart to the people I serve in my community and church, but eventually those opportunities and experiences come to an end. I can even do my best to live a healthy life, but good health is still a wild card. (Even perfectly healthy people are subject to illness and accident.)
What lasts the longest? Well, through thick and thin, there is still this guy I married. And these kids I have had – all five of them. If my house is messy or clean, if my business is thriving or waning, if I am healthy or sick, if I am involved in church or community or not – they just keep sticking around.
If what matters the most is what lasts the longest, then we need to be honest about the role our relationships play in our lives – and our family relationships in particular. Because they are the things that you can’t quit.
This insight has adjusted the way I do some things. Let me share a few of them.
There are times when I shut my computer – even when there are deadlines. I put down my cell phone. I have invited my kids to exercise with me on Saturday mornings, even though it’s more a stroll than a raise in my heart rate. I am getting reacquainted with my husband after the kids go to bed. The meticulously clean and organized home, the perfect piano practicing, and the crossed off to do lists? They are taking a back seat to really listening to my son’s ideas, compassionately stepping my daughter through anxious situations, and having fun – yes, FUN – with my fun-loving 12-year old daughter.
The funny thing is that although it feels like a sacrifice when I close my computer or put down my to-do list, it doesn’t take long to recognize that I am investing my time and energy in a place that gives back ten-fold. I’m talking more peace and happiness in the moment, at the end of the day, and in the years to come. You just can’t put a price on the daily strengthening of important relationships in your life.
Unrealistic? Maybe. But I’d love to see you give it a try. It can be surprising how easy it is to restructure your priorities when the payoff is worth it. So your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to look at your life through the lens of what lasts the longest. Can you focus on those things that matter most – even if it means letting go of other important things? If you take the plunge, then please share your experience by commenting below.