It's not difficult to stay busy. Most of the time, I will probably tell you that I had a busy day. And--I am being truthful.
A few years ago, I heard Gordon MacDonald say that we basically have three units of time during our waking hours. Morning. Afternoon. Evening. (Yes, I know that is obvious, but stay with me for a moment.) He said that we generally need to think in terms of doing our work during two of these three blocks. As I recall, he was directing some of his comments toward those who were using all three blocks for work. (I realize we could get into a discussion at this point about that third block. There is "work" to be done at home, etc. Nevertheless, he was trying to establish a basic principle regarding time.)
For some reason, I found his simple observation to be helpful. Years ago, when I drove for UPS, the company helped with this schedule. In the morning, I arrived at the Dallas hub and used a time card to "punch in." I was "at work" all day, driving in downtown Dallas. Late in the afternoon, I returned to the hub, took the same card and "punched out."
I was off. No more work for UPS until the following morning.
Many people have jobs where their lives are still ordered in much the same way. However, many of us do not punch in and out. We have a job or work which is never finished. There is always something to be done. I don't ever get to the end of a day/week/month and say, "Wow, everything is done. I guess I'll go home."
No--there is always:
- one more person I could talk with.
- one more book to read.
- one more e-mail to send.
- one more situation to look into.
- one more problem to think about.
- one more sermon/class to plan.
- one more message to prepare.
- one more person to visit.
- one more phone call to make.
There is always plenty to do.
So what's the point? The point is that I have to work to create balance in my life. As a person who desires to model Christ, I want to take care of my whole being (mind/soul/body/emotions, etc.). I believe such care honors Jesus. I want to be a healthy human being who honors the life the creator has given me. I am not just a mind that sits around thinking, praying, contemplating, etc. I am a whole person.
Cultivating a healthy, balanced life as a Christ-follower can be a real challenge. If you are a single parent or a working mom or dad with small children, you may find this to be extremely challenging. Nevertheless, it is important to at least take small steps toward nurturing your life.
Here are a few suggestions. These have been important in my life. You may have other practices which have been important to you. I would enjoy hearing about them.
1. Take time for prayer and Bible reading, as well as time to practice other spiritual disciplines. Start small--but start. Maybe this is a time each day in which you journal or read a book that addresses "heart" issues. Most days, I begin each morning with coffee, my Bible and/or book and my journal.
If this time is non-existent in your life right now, set aside a brief period of time each day. Don't worry about doing this the way I do it or the way anyone else might do it. Start small. Create a time that works for you.
2. Do something practical every week that nurtures significant relationships. Perhaps this means spending some time with family members. Your husband. Your wife. Your children. Maybe this means having lunch with a friend. Call a good friend each week. Send notes to other friends.
3. Do something that will enhance your physical health this week. So many of us neglect our bodies during our early years and then spend our later years having to address health issues (a few of these which may be present due to earlier neglect).
Work out. Take a walk. Pay attention to what you eat. Part of the stewardship or management of my body includes taking care of the health God has given me.
Again, start small but do something. (To my fellow ministers, this may be more important than reading the next book or doing something else behind a desk. God has created me to be a whole person not just a mind.)
4. Choose to enjoy the moment you have. Instead of being preoccupied with what you could be doing, try paying attention to what you are doing and who you are with. (Forgive me for talking to myself at this moment.) Look for what joy you can find in whatever situation you are in. Look for God's hand in these moments. Maybe he is giving you the opportunity to just enjoy this moment.