Attention all exhausted, worn-out, bedraggled church members (have I left anyone out?): I have an easy way for you to re-prioritize and simplify your life.
Many of us in our well-meaning attempt to do and be everything to everybody, reach our potentials, and finally fall into the Celestial Kingdom in a state of absolute perfection (good luck with that), run ourselves ragged.
Because our to-do list is so long, we tend to give equal attention to things that are of varying importance. They’re all good things, it’s just that some are “gooder” than others. We scrapbook for more hours than we read scriptures. We shop for the latest fashions more often than we attend the temple. We watch sports more often than the BYU Channel. And we self indulge with dinners, movies and vacations more than we serve those around us.
We’re human. Hobbies and interests aren’t inherently bad by any means, it’s just that they sometimes fill our lives so full that when we try to insert the nobler stuff, there’s no room at the Inn .
And that’s not all. Some of us go through the motions of service – all the “shoulds” – without really investing our hearts. We take casseroles around to be seen as part of the team, we help with ward parties wishing someone else would do it, we accept assignments we don’t want, and we drag ourselves hither and yon so our kids can compete with the neighbors in athletic and musical ability.
When our heart isn’t in it we grow resentful, we do less than our best, and we find our lives are more depressing than exhilarating.
This brings us to my solution, a way to live honestly and get the best stuff done. Take a dozen or so 3×5 cards, and write on each one: WHY AM I DOING THIS? Tape one to your bathroom mirror, one on the dashboard of your car, one in your wallet, one in the laundry room, one on a cabinet in the kitchen, one on the television set – scatter them all through the house.
Every time you engage in any activity, you will be forced to think about your true motives. Am I watching TV because I want to avoid preparing my Sunday School lesson? Am I eating because I’m bored? Am I doing genealogy to compete with my sister? Am I buying this to impress others? If so, none of these activities will be fulfilling.
You may never before have faced such naked scrutiny of your real motives.
And you may find you’re not such a slacker, after all. Am I doing laundry because I love my family and want them to have clean clothes? Suddenly the task becomes a gift, even a sacred sort of thing, a duty Christ would admire.
Am I visiting this member because I’ve been through her trial and I really want to comfort her? Your joy will increase as you realize that you genuinely care about others. Am I reading my scriptures because they truly do bring me closer to the Lord? Wow – I’m more on track than I thought I was!
The mundane tasks will elevate as you realize why you’re doing them, and the sacrifices you make for the right reasons will no longer be burdensome. You’ll say no to requests that are only about keeping up appearances, and you’ll see the duties of parenting not as chores, but as blessings. The service you render will be more inspired and the effect you have on those around you will be more uplifting. Burn-out will disappear and you’ll have more energy for your priorities, which will now come into sharper focus.
You can start right here. Why am I reading Meridian ? To grow in the gospel, to gain insight, to learn how to live better, right? It’s one of those “gooder” things. See? You’re already doing it right.
Joni’s daily advice show, The Joni Hilton Show, airs weeknights from 6-8 pm Pacific Time, streaming live at kahi.com. Previously recorded shows can also be heard there. If you’d like to call her show, the toll free number is 1-800-950-5244.