These words roll around my head like marbles tossed inside an old tin can. With every smack against the metal side, I’m forced to decide what matters most. At first that seems a hard list to define, a million good things clamoring for a finite bit of space. Maybe the easiest starting point is making a list of what does not matter most to me.
The first one on that list is easy. Fanciness. I am not a fancy person. I don’t know where all the forks go, fine china intimidates me, and I almost never serve a salad with a meal (unless it is the meal ;)). My favorite shoes are flip-flops or, better yet, bare feet. And I still wear scrubs that I got for a high school mission trip to Mexico to bed some nights. (I have really got to get rid of those…) The second might not come as a big surprise since I just told you I still wear decade-old scrubs. Clothing/Hair/Makeup. Thank goodness I have a little sister and two BFFs who are quite fashionable and trendy because basically I try and copy what they do. And sometimes I send them desperate texts, “Can I please raid your closet? Do I wear leggings (tights, what’s the difference?) under boots? Can you puh-lease show me how to use a curling iron because that ‘natural wavy’ look doesn’t come so naturally to me?” As soon as I’m onto a trend, it’s already making it’s way out (or left 3.5 years ago). Next up, Decorating. Now, don’t get me wrong. I want our home to be fun. I want it to be a haven, colorful and imaginative, imperfect and a bit rumpled (I envision Land of Nod but then add little girls shoes strewn about and crayons emerging from every crevice). But I don’t want to be searching for new pillows all the time or repainting every other weekend (just three times in one weekend, right, Matt? ;)) And these people with a decorated laundry room… hats off to you! I decorate my laundry room with one thing. Laundry. And then there’s Cleaning. I have permanent dust bunnies thanks to the two hairiest dogs known to man and my three-year-old’s paintings often extend onto drawer pulls and cabinet fronts until they’re found several days later. And, in case you weren’t seriously doubting my domestic abilities already, I hate Coupons. I really, really do. I like BOGO coupons for entrees and I love saving money (those Target end caps with the red clearance tags get me every time) but when it comes to clipping, printing, organizing coupons I’d rather poke my eyeballs with needles. Repeatedly.
My “Not” list represents me. Your “Not” list isn’t going to look the same, and it shouldn’t look the same. Thank goodness I have friends that have these things on their matters most list or I’d be looking a hot mess. (More than I already do.) The beauty of community is that everyone has something to offer. Never doubt that your gift, no matter what it is, is valuable.
Now that I know what does not matter most, I’m forced to narrow down what does matter most. The most obvious answer is my Family, being a wife to Matt, mom to Lydia, Charlotte, and fighting hard for a brown-eyed kiddo in Ethiopia. Just writing their names, I have to take a gulp, realizing that while it’s easy to put them as number one I struggle with making sure my time matches my priorities. Too often I push them aside because something else seems more urgent at the time, telling myself in the back of my mind that they’ll be there as soon as I finish. The other day Lydia wanted me to read books with her. We had been to the library where she got four Olivia books. We had already read them a half-dozen times, but she wanted them “one more time, Mommy.” I was working on cookbook orders, dinner and laundry and when she asked me the 89th time in a span of two minutes I snapped back at her, “I don’t have time right now!” Her eyes dropped and, with them, my heart fell too. I had forgotten what matters most. It’s easy to tell myself, “I just need to finish this one thing first.” But that one thing always multiplies. I have to look at my list and remember what’s on it and what’s not. I can always get a good gauge on this one by my intention with date nights and time spent playing with my girls.
In a similar vein, Encouraging Women is a huge passion of mine. I’ve learned God uses our pain to give us our ministry, and I get such great joy from walking with women going through miscarriage, infertility and adoption. And also just doing life together and letting women know they aren’t alone on those days when they want to hide in the bathroom to get 2.5 seconds of quiet. Being a wife and mom is wonderful and hard, and sometimes we just need to know we aren’t alone.
Next on my list are Reading and Writing. These two go hand-in-hand for me. I love words, and I can never read enough. I read to learn, to experience, to grow and, because of this, I devour books. A bubble bath, tea (hot tea with honey in the winter, iced tea in the summer) and my Kindle is my favorite way to unwind. Because I love words, I also love to put them together to tell a story. Few things excite me like finding just the right mix of words to express a thought in my head, and hearing someone say that my words encouraged her is the biggest compliment I could receive.
There are certainly other things that give me energy… cooking, running and traveling being three of the big ones, but if I’m not great at those things I won’t really be disappointed. (Although, I might be eating out more 😉 Knowing this, I have to look at my day and be willing to cut away things that divert my attention away from these three. This also means I have to be committed to growing in these areas. My curtains might not be chevron and I might still be sleeping in scrubs, (No, I’m just kidding. I promise.) but I can’t live in status quo on what matters most. If I do, I’ll regret it every time. After all, I’m the only wife Matt has and the only mom my kids have. No one else can fill my role. When God allowed me to go through my miscarriages and then struggle getting pregnant, He did it for a purpose. So that I could encourage other women, so they could lean on me during their own dark days. And when God chose the gifts He gave me, He didn’t do it haphazardly. He has a message He wants to share through me. And while I didn’t explicitly say it, written in bold letters across the top of my list is my Relationship with Christ. I can’t even begin to be great at what matters most apart from Him. Every day, I feel inadequate to be the wife, mom, friend and communicator I desire to be. But if God has called us to something, He will give us the strength we need. I love 2 Corinthians 12:9, ” Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” Grace is what we need to be great at what matters most.
I’d love to hear what’s on your list. What dreams and passions has God given you? How is He using your past pain to give you a ministry? How are you letting go of what’s not on your “Matters Most List”?