MOMentum · motherhood · Spiritual Musings · women's ministry

Burden Builder #1: Misplaced Priorities

Yesterday I started a series about how we as Christian moms can cultivate the biblical perspective found in Psalm 127:

Psalm 127: 3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children[a] of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Before we begin to cultivate this heart that views children as a reward, inheritance, and  blessing from God, let’s think about what makes us view our children as burdens and inconveniences. There are so many factors that can contribute to this perspective, but three came to mind when I considered my own life and history as a mom. Today, I want to talk about the first one: Misplaced priorities.

During times when my overarching feeling toward my children is that they are a burden, I can almost always step back and see that my priorities are out of whack. Generally, this means I have probably been overly ambitious in what I can accomplish during the current season of motherhood. What makes this hard to detect at times is the things that I’m trying to accomplish are usually good. Maybe I’m having more hospitality. Maybe I’m writing more. Maybe I’m trying to sell things on Craigslist to make a little vacation money. These are all good things, but if I start to notice that I am too tired or irritable to enjoy my kids, then I need to look at the list again and start re-aligning my priorities so my husband and children get the best of my energy and effort.

One helpful illustration a pastor gave was about his friend who was accustomed to running on a treadmill for exercise. His friend noticed one week that he wasn’t able to get to the same distance as easily lately. At the end of the week, he realized that the treadmill had been set at a .5 degree incline. It was just .5 degrees, but it made a huge difference in what he was able to accomplish. I think life for moms is full of .5 inclines. Maybe it’s a sick child, a teething baby, a husband working long hours, a head cold, any little thing that sets the normal pace of life at a bit of an incline. Are you feeling burdened lately by what used to feel routine? Maybe there’s a .5 incline that needs to be accommodated. You may want to make life easier somewhere else for that temporary season so that you save energy for your little “blessings”.

In the past, I would look at videos from my early years with the kids and cringe. There’s the video of the boys in the bath tub with the black mold ring around the perimeter. There’s one where they are dancing and in the background there’s a pile of unfolded laundry on the chair. Every piece of furniture was handed down. Not a picture graced my walls. My hair was in a chronic pony tail. My uniform, sweatpants and Jason’s shirt. I used to look at those videos and think, “wow! were ever in survival mode!!!” And we were. But after thinking through this concept of looking at priorities I am now re-thinking those videos. They represent my (of course, inconsistent) effort to keep my priorities right. I didn’t have time or energy to decorate the house, do my hair and makeup, go to the library for mommy and me (oh my gosh, the idea of that with 3 boys under 3 makes me have palpitations even now!), or even bleach the moldy caulk in my bathtub. But we were finding time to laugh at their naked, chubby, soap covered bodies. We found time to play freeze dance. And eventually…I found time to upgrade my wardrobe to include jeans. So, if your house isn’t as clean as you’d like, or your clothing isn’t as fashionable as you’d like, or you’re not able to do pre-school basketball at the YMCA, be encouraged! You may not just be in survival mode. You may be living by your priorities!

Gospel Connection:

You know what is amazing? Jesus had .5 inclines in life here on earth! That is such good news for moms for at least two reasons. First, the creator of the universe, the all-powerful One humbled Himself and became a man who was tired, hungry, and thirsty, so that he could truly understand human frailty as our sympathetic, Great High Priest.

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Because of Jesus, we have access to the throne of grace and can find help in our time of need. We are more aware of that need when life is at an incline. Let’s run to him for forgiveness if we have been viewing the blessings He gave us as burdens and inconveniences. Let’s run to Him for wisdom to know what needs to stay, and what we can let go of for right now. Let’s run to Him for extra strength every day, and especially on those days when the energy seemed to wear out at noon.

The second reason Jesus’ humanity is such good news for us is that He was in every respect tempted as we are, yet without sin. Jesus was dealing with seeming interruptions, antagonistic pharisees, demanding crowds, and slow-learning disciples, yet He never sinned. He perfectly obeyed the will of the Father. And what is amazing is that His record of perfect obedience has been credited to us who have placed saving faith in Him. So whether you viewed your children as the blessing they are, or whether you succumbed to the temptation to view them as burdens, your righteousness is found in the perfect performance of Another. Thank You, Jesus!

So what about you? What are the .5 inclines in your life? Where have you made accommodations to keep your priorities straight? How can you bring the truth of the incarnation, that God became a man and dwelled among us, to bear on your life today?

I really would love to hear from you. Please make this a discussion. Let’s take it to the comment box, shall we?


15 thoughts on “Burden Builder #1: Misplaced Priorities

  1. Laurie, I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Even though I love everything about keeping a home, I’ve had to really lower my priorities on the cleanliness level. I can be somewhat sane if it appears pretty from far away 🙂 Between the dog, the mud, the fingerprints, and the every day dirt and dust, it’s all a lot of work and I just can’t keep up right now. I can’t. That’s the truth. I can stop and take a deep breath. I can close my shades so I don’t look at the dust and I can read a book on the stained sofa to my little boy. I can paint my daughters finger nails on the floor of a messy bedroom. All of these things are my priority as a Mother. I can trade Facebook stalking for time in the Word. Thanks for this.

  2. Laurie…this was so timely for me, stuck at home with a sick kid, not feeling so great myself, trying to keep the infant from getting sick…and wondering why I can’t seem to keep up with the house if I’m stuck in it all day! So grateful for the gospel that applies to even the minor inconveniences of life!

  3. The .5 incline in my life is photography. I am “revamping” my biz in an effort to have everything updated and in place for the fall when I’m starting Kindergarten with the boys. I’m putting some changes in place to make the behind the computer time faster/smoother. That said, I’m holding it loosely and we’ll constantly evaluate.

    It’s good in that it furthers my marketable skills. I enjoy it. But we’ll evaluate each session opportunity, because I know when I feel overwhelmed with it my kids suffer. Adding homeschooling to the list shall be a test, because that will take the front burner. Also, even when my priorities are in the right place, I can struggle through comparison. Photography has to remain a “side” thing for me, and I can’t compare myself to rockstars who do this for fulltime income and who’s kids are in school. Because the fact is I WANT to homeschool and that is a lifestyle choice we’re making. So not sure yet if/how other things will change. Writing is much easier to incorporate into my life, so that’s not much of an issue.

    In terms of cleaning my home, that too will be hard! I currently do so much cleaning in the morning hours, I cringe to think how I’ll have to move cleaning the the sidelines/weekends once homeschooling starts in earnest. THAT will be hard for me!! 🙂

  4. thanks for this Laurie… great wisdom! Love the Gospel connection to motherhood… it’s hard for me to connect the dots like you just did! I needed this today!

    And I just wanted to say that I’m grateful for my husband who doesn’t prize a clean house, a delicious dinner, or a wife in a super cute outfit when he gets home. He wants to come home to happy children and a happy wife even if it means we are happy in the midst of chaos! I feel like this season would be a whole lot harder if he had expectations that just weren’t attainable… but he recognizes the hard work that is involved in this season and helps me to prioritize the right things.

    Thanks for your encouraging posts! Keep them coming!

  5. Beth, I love this, ” I can close my shades so I don’t look at the dust and I can read a book on the stained sofa to my little boy. I can paint my daughters finger nails on the floor of a messy bedroom. All of these things are my priority as a Mother.”
    So true, and so well said.

  6. Leanne, I’m sorry you and your little guy are under the weather. Hope you both get well soon, and in the meantime…don’t sweat a little more mess than usual 🙂 . We’ve all been there, and return there regularly!
    Danielle, I am amazed at all you are able to manage! Your photography, your writing, your co-op class, your 3 kiddos (which include a pair of twin boys). I’m tired just typing all of this! So, if once schooling starts you can’t juggle it all, just remember you are juggling at least 3 more things than I could on my most level treadmill day!

  7. Julie, that is such a good point about including our husbands in the process. Sometimes they are better at identifying the incline because they aren’t so emotionally attached to all of the “good” things we are trying to do. It’s definitely worth getting their perspective when we find ourselves exhausted and burdened by our children.
    Bri, I would love if you wrote a post. I know you have that regular time of year with Lawrence’s tax season when your treadmill is at an incline. But you also seem to know to limit yourself in certain areas to accommodate. I’d love to hear more. if you post, please send the link our way.

  8. I constantly struggle with not knowing the balance or how to rightly view my life – am I being too hard on myself, having unrealistic expectations of what I can reasonably accomplish in this season of life? Or am I really lazy and undisciplined, constantly mismanaging and wasting my time, failing to do all these things that I truly can and should be doing? Most of the time I feel like it’s the latter :/ –and then I fall into this death spiral of wasting time, feeling overwhelmed at all that I need to do, getting paralyzed and disengaging/escaping instead of diving in and tackling the next thing, lather, rinse, repeat.

    I see your next post is about comparison – haven’t read it yet but that’s a tricky part of the equation too. I see all these other women doing all sorts of things I’m not doing, and sometimes that seems to testify to my squandering and neglecting my gifts and responsibilities. On the other hand I often think of an old post of yours about having an over-inflated view of myself, and needing to step back and realize that those women just might be more gifted than I am (ouch, humble pie). And it’s just plain hard to know what other moms really are doing and not doing, since you can’t see the whole picture of their day-to-day life, whether it’s IRL friends or bloggers.

    It’s so hard to sort it all out wisely.

  9. Thank you for this. There have been so many things I’ve had to let slide lately an I’m in the process of cutting more (closing up my business for awhile) as stress has taken its tole on my body in physical ways that have been frightening. I’ve been beating myself up over the pile in the corner of the dining room that I never seem to have arms free enough to deal with Or the ring around my bathtub that is old cast iron and gives me an insane workout to clean (needs to be refinished). I hate what a failure I’ve felt like lately so thank you for your encouragement.

  10. I can’t even spell. Haha. Toll. Sorry for all the typos on my last two post. Commenting on phone while sitting and feeding baby

  11. Amy, you are describing me exactly… I am trying to process through those questions, “is it laziness? capacity? unbelief?” I hope you will think out loud on your blog about the issue. I think you have a knack at connecting authenticity (there are real struggles) and the gospel (there is real grace for those struggles). If you write it, please send the link and I’ll post it for the other gals. No pressure to write it. I’m a miss bossy pants in real life, if you can’t tell 🙂 .

  12. Bethany, I’m so sorry about the physical issues you are experiencing (I have no idea what they are, but life for a mother of young children is sooooo physical, I can’t imagine health issues on top of it). I’ll pray for you. And you are such a good example of one who does view her children as blessings! thank you for inspiring me so many times. even your photography shows your love for and joy in those cuties.

  13. LOL at “miss bossy pants” – maybe we were twins separated at birth?! thanks for the encouragement. was planning to set aside some blog time today…maybe I’ll think on it.

    and Bethany, I agree with Laurie, thanks for your example of prioritizing and cherishing your kiddos!

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