In a time like this, when it feels In that you’re required to do everything, the tasks may seem overwhelming and confusion may reign. If you have children who are still in school, you may be facing the possibility of having to oversee home schooling, work full time, be a parent, be a spouse, and have some sort of life. If you’re single or a single parent, you face all the same pressures. Deciding what really matters in life becomes extremely important but might seem impossible.
Maybe you know what really matters, but you think you can’t do it because of the circumstances you’re faced with. How do you set priorities when it seems like everything is at the top of the list? You know you can’t multitask quite that much! So, how in the world can you juggle all of these things without being pressured until fall apart?
Step 1. Decide What Really Matters In Life To You
For me, and most people, what really matters in life is relationships – my immediate family, extended family, and then friends. When everything else is stripped away, those relationships are what I must have.
If your heart is settled that you love God with all you have then that group comes next. They are what really matters in life. Then, of course, you also need to love yourself enough to take care of yourself in the midst of all this. Somewhere in there, if you’re married, your spouse takes precedence and then there’s the job, the church, and other involvements you may have. Your spouse is probably working too and, even though you are both sharing the responsibilities, there are some things only you do and only your husband does.
If you’re a single parent, everything seems to have landed squarely on your shoulders and that can be too much.
Money shortages are a reality for so many families, singles, and single parents. The bills are piling up or your business is going under. Maybe both things are happening. Everything you worked so hard for seems to be in jeopardy and this is having a tremendously negative effect on your relationships.
Is there hope? And, how in the world can you decide what really matters in life and control what doesn’t? Through prayer, you decide what really matters and then take steps to guard it.
Step 2. Set Your Priorities
In deciding what really matters in life, you need to look at what really matters most to you, not what you’re being told is most important.
Setting priorities starts with figuring out what really matters most to you and it requires some time and thought. If you’re married, you and your spouse need to do this together. If you’re single or a single parent, you need to find a trusted friend who knows you well to help work through the process.
The number two thing on your list might be money and/or a job – God is number one. Money is near the top because everything else seems to hinge on it. However, that’s not what should be in the number two spot! What should be? The thing that matters most to you in life. The thing money can’t buy. The thing that will be there when everything else goes away.
If money bought love, peace, and contentment then millionaires would be the only people who had happiness because they could just buy it. That’s not how life is. For me, the most important thing in my life is my immediate family – my husband and children along with immediate family. Relationship with family and friends – those are my top priorities after God.
Some of the happiest, most content, loving, and peaceful people I know have very little in the way of money or worldly goods. Does money matter in life? Well, of course it does and it’s a necessity. It’s impossible to live what we consider to be a normal life without it. And, a shortage of money can put a huge strain on those precious relationships if we allow it to. Yet, money can’t be at the top of the list. Your relationships with God, family, and friends are far more important.
Deciding what really matters in life, starts by putting the right things at the top.
Step 3. Stop Being Ashamed and/Or Guilty
Once you know the things that really matter in life, you can then start tackling the tasks required to guard them. For instance, what if you’re facing having a full-time job and adding homeschooling your kids – something you never, ever wanted to do? Your first task may not be what you think it is. First – stop feeling guilty because you don’t want to do this or you can’t do it. We have to be honest without being ashamed or taking on guilt.
Stop being ashamed and/or taking on guilt for not conforming to the world’s demands.
The world is portraying our current situation as if we must do everything they’re talking about. Not everyone can work from home and if you can’t, then homeschooling is going to be tough. Here’s the key – Figure out what really matters to you and your family! This isn’t about what you think everyone believes is important. It’s not about what you think others are expecting of you. It’s about what matters most to you and your family and how to guard it.
Accept the fact that you can’t do it all, either because of work or because you know it will be a disaster! What’s most important? Of course, your kids have to do school but maybe you can pay a friend to take your kids and do the schooling. Maybe a group of families can get together and hire a teacher to teach their kids. Or, maybe you can work part-time and do homeschooling two days a week instead of five!
I’m not trying to oversimplify the dilemma you have. I’m just trying to point out that you should do what matters most to you and your family without guilt or fear.
Step 3. Stop Fear The Moment It Starts
I saw a woman on television who had been asked about her feelings regarding her children being homeschooled for the coming year. Her tearful response was that this would ruin their lives! That is pure fear speaking and isn’t true. One year of homeschool may set them back a little in their education but it will not ruin their lives!
I personally know lots of kids who were homeschooled for a short time and then went back to public school. They graduated from high school, some went to college, they did not require years of counseling, and turned out to be normal, functioning human beings with great jobs!
Stop letting fear guide you! This is a time when fear is running rampant and pouring out of everyone’s mouths. Many are completely gripped by ‘what if’ and ‘maybe.’ Those are the tools of fear – imaginations of ‘what if’ that we allow to run wild in our minds as fear builds strongholds inside us based on what ‘may be.’
The Bible gives very clear instruction about fear – don’t do it. We are told to take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. Fear is a destructive liar. Most of the things we fear never happen. Fear is also a thief. When you feel it starting, you need to stop it.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
I understand what it’s like to have no money with mouths to feed, bills to pay, and to battle with fear. Because I’ve experienced it, I can tell you that you can win the battle, but only if you try. It’s work but it’s part of protecting what is more important to you. Fear will destroy you and your family if you allow it to.
Stop fear the moment it starts by refusing to entertain the thoughts of ‘what if’ and ‘maybe’ that will destroy what really matters in life.
Step 4. Take Action
Now, you need to take some action by prayerfully creating a plan to protect what really matters in life. This involves things like this:
- What can you sell to make some money?
- Where can you cut back?
- Is there something you can do from home to earn money?
- How can you ease your children’s fears?
- How can you help them to have greater faith and trust in their Savior?
- What can you do to keep yourself nourished spiritually?
- How can you build a wall of faith around your family and yourself?
- Who can work with you to implement the changes you probably have to make?
Step 5. In Everything Give Thanks
One of the most powerful tools I know of is thanksgiving and gratitude. When my first husband was killed instantly in an accident, this practice brought me through the anguish, grief, and fear. I had a mountain of debt and my income had been cut in half overnight. Eleven months later I was diagnosed with cancer. It was a terrible time in my life and fear tried hard to swallow me.
But, the practice of thanking God multiple times per day for what I had brought me through. I wanted to focus on what I had lost, on what I didn’t have and would never have again. Instead, I fought that by using thanksgiving and gratitude.
Thank God for the family and friends you have. Thank God that you have shoes, clothing, a cup to drink water from, a friend, a pen that works. Thank Him for every, tiny little thing. Go outside and find one beautiful thing – a dandelion growing in the middle of a pile of trash! The flower is the beauty in the midst of ugliness. Do that every single day. I can tell you from experience that it works. Focus on what you have, not what you might lose. Focus on what really matters in life and never lose sight of it.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV
Step 6. Make A Plan Through Prayer
Once you know what really matters in life, you have the foundation for your plan. Everything is built on that. You take action because of what matters. Your actions revolve around what matters. And, it’s what matters to you and your family – not the world. Your steps of action will be carried out for the sake of what really matters in life.
Prayer is a sign of relationship. You pray because you believe God cares and want to hear. You pray because you rely on His strength. You pray because you know you need His wisdom. You talk to Him because you love Him and He loves you. Everything we do should have an element of prayer involved in it.
The harder things get, the more we need to pray. If fear is shouting, we need to go into our prayer closet and bask in the quiet reassurance of the God who holds us in His hands. He knows what really matters in life and is our willing partner in protecting and nourishing it.
Guarding What Really Matters In life
As you look at the things you will need to do, you create a plan. Yes, it will probably have to be adjusted but this is your starting point. You aren’t making decisions based on what others are telling you to do or based on fear, shame, and guilt. You are basing your decision on what really matters in life – relationships based in love.
Every family’s plan will look a little different but as you incorporate these 6 powerful steps, you will be prioritizing what God prioritizes. God put such importance on a His love relationship with us, that He gave His only Son so that we would have life. He had a plan and it was based on what really matters in life – His and ours. Here are our steps:
- Prayerfully decide what really matters in life to you and your family.
- Set your priorities remembering that the right ones need to be at the top – the ones that really matter most.
- Stop making decisions based on shame or guilt.
- Stop fear the moment it starts and never make fear-based decisions.
- In everything give thanks. Practice thankfulness and gratitude every day.
- Make and execute your plan through prayer to guard and build what really matters in life.
I pray that you find strength and hope every day as you search the Word, stand on the Word, take your thoughts captive, defeat fear, and guard the relationships based in love that matter most in this life. You will gain strength from them as you give strength to them.
You might also enjoy reading – The Benefits of Rejoicing In The Lord
**WM uses verses from different Bible translations. To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit this page – Scripture Citations.