Every day there are a million choices. Options for how to spend my time and energy abound. Sometimes just sitting down to fill in my weekly planner becomes a calculated decision, because I know I’ll be giving up an hour or so in the process. (Which feels crazy even as I type it, but three kids, a husband, a full time job, a busy church community and keeping my hair colored….. Well, it’s time consuming) And this is the stuff all women face- what matters today the most? How should I spend these hours and what tasks/people/errands/activities warrant priority?
I was cleaning out part of my nasty refrigerator the other day using my 75% rule: if it looks at least 75% better than when I started, high five, move on. (This is a real thing. Not making it up for blog effect. It’s totally freeing to not have to do anything 100% perfectly.) As I was taking out sticky jelly jars and cleaning unidentifiable orange goo out of a tray in the door, I began to evaluate my life. Not the dramatic “what am I really doing with my life anyway” kind of evaluation, but rather the “how are things working lately and should we consider giving up jelly?” As I was considering the ways my time gets used, God and I were having a bit of a back and forth conversation in my head. (Or it could have been out loud. Scott recently told me he hears me talking out loud to myself. So there’s that.) At any rate, while asking God to show me if my time is being spent in a way that honors Him and reflects my life purposes, He brought to mind a verse that we talk about often in my church.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Cor. 4:16
It got me thinking. There are really just two categories: outward (breaking down) and inward (renewing). This is so simple, but the implications are deep. If every decision I make, from cleaning my fridge to preparing dinner for a sick friend to buying a car to going on vacation can be looked at through this lens, maybe it will help me not to lose heart by spending precious time and energy on things that are just “breaking down” anyway. Now don’t get me wrong, you still have to deal with outward things. Just because they are breaking down doesn’t mean we don’t do some maintenance. But, those things are not ever going to be perfected on this earth. My home will never be perfectly clean, appliances will be in some stage of needing repair, my van will always be ready for some new part, my body will continue to wrinkle and age. Things that are primarily outward will cause me to lose heart and be frustrated, insecure and cynical if I believe my job is to keep them renewed. However, the beautiful part of this scripture is the focus on our inner renewal. Things that are primarily inward, my relationship with Christ, my relationships with others, my heart and mind, my mission- these will bring me great joy as I watch my time spent on them yield fruitful results.
So, here’s how it’s playing out for me in decision making: I’m letting things that are primarily inward trump things that are primarily outward. No legalism or rigid rules, mind you. Just stepping back and asking of the two (or ten) options for this moment, which one leads to renewal? And when I spend time maintaining my home or my bank account or my physical body, I’m doing it with the understanding that it is not what put my hope in Or where I gain my security. That these are necessary parts of this broken world, but they will always be corrupted by the effects of sin. So my commitment to them is “I’ll deal with you as needed”, while my commitment to the inner things is “You trump everything else”.