First Thing's First!

So I actually did it. I made the space for change. (Earlier post can be found here.) I realized that now fall has begun with work in the schools and house sitting, that I was pushed to the very edge of my margins and that once again, what needed to be done, namely reprinting the books and writing the third, was not getting done. There was no time for it. I have struggled with this theme, as many of you know from reading this blog, for months. Thus, also the fewer posts. It's a scary thing to live your life but to never do or be the thing God has called us to.

I see my time in the mountains this summer as a wake up call that I had to JUST STOP and recalibrate myself to a slower pace where my feet weren't frantically running out from under me so much of the time. My time living in Vancouver for several weeks while house sitting for a friend was my time to live this out away from all the demands being home brings on. But now the rubber has met the road and I have to make the hard choices about what to keep in my life and what to let go of.

Picture a glass jar in front of you with piles of various sized rocks nearby. Up to now, people have put rocks in my hands and I have all too easily dropped them in the jar while the rocks God has given me sit on the table neglected. Soon the jar is filled with these rocks from others and I am trying quite unsuccessfully to cram the God rocks into the jar, the rocks that give me life. So I finally realized how futile this whole thing was and how stupid I was being to think it would work. I wanted many of those rocks, they were nice rocks I had been given. But I wanted the rocks God had given far more. It was the difference between what is the best and what is good. Thus, I at last made the choice I have been struggling to make for some time. I dumped the jar.

With the glass gleaming, empty and clean, I contemplated the jar and the rocks beside it. First I took the rock of relationship. The most important thing in my life is my relationship with God. If that rock isn't in the jar, nothing else should be, not even my ministry. Without a relationship with God, my ministry counts for nothing. This rock involves reading my Bible. I have decided on a chapter a day to be read in the morning, two if I life, and to think about one idea I can take away from that section. My first book to go through in this way is Isaiah. I'm getting to know God's character this way. I also sit or lay down with God and talk to him about what is on my mind, what I am concerned about or want to talk over. I am still working on remembering to make room for these practices every day, but I feel much better about my relationship with God than I have in a long time by simply following the shocking idea of making time for it. It's steps in that best of directions.

The second rock I put in the jar is the rock of ministry, or writing and publishing. This fall I want to reprint all three of my books in addition to another project I'll be announcing shortly. (It's not the third poetry book, that's in the writing stages.) I have known for years this is the beat of my heart, my purpose in life. I am a writer. So I am taking time to write. First I'm actually taking time to publish, writing the third poetry book will come after that. But I am making sure I have room to do those things. If this was so important to God that he gave me these gifts, than it should also be that important to me to use them. And again, if this rock isn't in the jar, then nothing else should be.

Yesterday, I kept the entire Saturday free and unscheduled. I turned on the fireplace, listened to the rain fall outside which it did all day, and worked on the three publishing projects I have in the jar. After fifteen hours of working on the books, I felt like I had come miles from where I started. Huge progress was made and I feel like I have a much better handle on my timeline of getting these out before Christmas and now that I'm making the time for the books, I know the rest of the steps will get done. As I wrote to a friend on facebook, one book takes over your life. I am printing several.

The third rock I've placed in the jar is the rock of friends and family. It's so vitally important to be in relationship with those we love, to spend time with them, talk with them, to delight in each other's company. I love meeting people for coffee or tea, going to events with them such as festivals or concerts, playing games or just hanging out. I love to make them laugh. Time with my friends nurtures me, gives me joy and I learn so much from them.

You may by now, be asking about the rock of paid work. Yes, that is in there too but work must be done alongside these four other rocks. If work interferes with one of these four, then you need to reevaluate your employment. These four rocks come first.

Now that these five rocks are sitting in my jar, I can then add the others people offer but I must choose carefully. I will have to say no to things to make sure there is space for the first five. There also needs to be empty space around the rocks, the margins of life so I have space to move and breathe. For a while, I am going to be saying no to more things while I practice giving the first five all the time they need. I need to form these good habits of spending daily time with God, with my writing, with my friends, taking time for myself, and working before I can put any more rocks in the jar. It's going to be hard for me to say no. I know that but after yesterday, I also know how good it feels to put first things first, to know that what needs to get done are the things actually getting done.

Yes, there are other things that won't get done. People will be disappointed with me that I will no longer do what they want me to but as I am doing what I need to be doing, I am okay disappointing them. I am who I am. I have to be true to that before anything else. I have to put the God rocks in the jar.

Walking the Sea: First Thing's First!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

First Thing's First!

So I actually did it. I made the space for change. (Earlier post can be found here.) I realized that now fall has begun with work in the schools and house sitting, that I was pushed to the very edge of my margins and that once again, what needed to be done, namely reprinting the books and writing the third, was not getting done. There was no time for it. I have struggled with this theme, as many of you know from reading this blog, for months. Thus, also the fewer posts. It's a scary thing to live your life but to never do or be the thing God has called us to.

I see my time in the mountains this summer as a wake up call that I had to JUST STOP and recalibrate myself to a slower pace where my feet weren't frantically running out from under me so much of the time. My time living in Vancouver for several weeks while house sitting for a friend was my time to live this out away from all the demands being home brings on. But now the rubber has met the road and I have to make the hard choices about what to keep in my life and what to let go of.

Picture a glass jar in front of you with piles of various sized rocks nearby. Up to now, people have put rocks in my hands and I have all too easily dropped them in the jar while the rocks God has given me sit on the table neglected. Soon the jar is filled with these rocks from others and I am trying quite unsuccessfully to cram the God rocks into the jar, the rocks that give me life. So I finally realized how futile this whole thing was and how stupid I was being to think it would work. I wanted many of those rocks, they were nice rocks I had been given. But I wanted the rocks God had given far more. It was the difference between what is the best and what is good. Thus, I at last made the choice I have been struggling to make for some time. I dumped the jar.

With the glass gleaming, empty and clean, I contemplated the jar and the rocks beside it. First I took the rock of relationship. The most important thing in my life is my relationship with God. If that rock isn't in the jar, nothing else should be, not even my ministry. Without a relationship with God, my ministry counts for nothing. This rock involves reading my Bible. I have decided on a chapter a day to be read in the morning, two if I life, and to think about one idea I can take away from that section. My first book to go through in this way is Isaiah. I'm getting to know God's character this way. I also sit or lay down with God and talk to him about what is on my mind, what I am concerned about or want to talk over. I am still working on remembering to make room for these practices every day, but I feel much better about my relationship with God than I have in a long time by simply following the shocking idea of making time for it. It's steps in that best of directions.

The second rock I put in the jar is the rock of ministry, or writing and publishing. This fall I want to reprint all three of my books in addition to another project I'll be announcing shortly. (It's not the third poetry book, that's in the writing stages.) I have known for years this is the beat of my heart, my purpose in life. I am a writer. So I am taking time to write. First I'm actually taking time to publish, writing the third poetry book will come after that. But I am making sure I have room to do those things. If this was so important to God that he gave me these gifts, than it should also be that important to me to use them. And again, if this rock isn't in the jar, then nothing else should be.

Yesterday, I kept the entire Saturday free and unscheduled. I turned on the fireplace, listened to the rain fall outside which it did all day, and worked on the three publishing projects I have in the jar. After fifteen hours of working on the books, I felt like I had come miles from where I started. Huge progress was made and I feel like I have a much better handle on my timeline of getting these out before Christmas and now that I'm making the time for the books, I know the rest of the steps will get done. As I wrote to a friend on facebook, one book takes over your life. I am printing several.

The third rock I've placed in the jar is the rock of friends and family. It's so vitally important to be in relationship with those we love, to spend time with them, talk with them, to delight in each other's company. I love meeting people for coffee or tea, going to events with them such as festivals or concerts, playing games or just hanging out. I love to make them laugh. Time with my friends nurtures me, gives me joy and I learn so much from them.

You may by now, be asking about the rock of paid work. Yes, that is in there too but work must be done alongside these four other rocks. If work interferes with one of these four, then you need to reevaluate your employment. These four rocks come first.

Now that these five rocks are sitting in my jar, I can then add the others people offer but I must choose carefully. I will have to say no to things to make sure there is space for the first five. There also needs to be empty space around the rocks, the margins of life so I have space to move and breathe. For a while, I am going to be saying no to more things while I practice giving the first five all the time they need. I need to form these good habits of spending daily time with God, with my writing, with my friends, taking time for myself, and working before I can put any more rocks in the jar. It's going to be hard for me to say no. I know that but after yesterday, I also know how good it feels to put first things first, to know that what needs to get done are the things actually getting done.

Yes, there are other things that won't get done. People will be disappointed with me that I will no longer do what they want me to but as I am doing what I need to be doing, I am okay disappointing them. I am who I am. I have to be true to that before anything else. I have to put the God rocks in the jar.

1 Comments:

At September 19, 2010 at 6:15 PM , Anonymous Tim Magee said...

My view of the use of time is different. The need to be involved with soul feeding stuff such as playing a musical instrument is important, even critically so. Yet the level of effort and time commitment demanded by my occupation can seem most unyielding.
Still, I'm reading what you say and considering it. I know that being personally organized is very important, and the procrastination must be avoided.

 

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