I opened my calendar a few weeks ago to schedule a game night with friends and thought to myself, “When did things get so busy?!” Somehow without my knowing, every weekend for the next month had something going on. Have you ever had this happen to you? You keep putting one thing after the other onto the calendar without stopping to look at the surrounding days and weeks to see how busy you are making your schedule as a whole? I’ve been finding myself doing this a lot lately. I first noticed it a few months ago when we were trying to reschedule a family dinner with Sam’s siblings. Something came up and we had to reschedule the original date we had picked. I flipped through my calendar to see what other evenings we had free, only to realize we didn’t have another free evening for a whole two weeks! TWO WEEKS! I don’t know about you, but that’s a long time to go without a free evening! The thing that I find increasingly distressing about this is that I often don’t even realize I’m booking us so full until the calendar is packed! I often tell myself that “Everything we put on the schedule is good. Don’t worry!” But the other day I found myself asking, “Is it really?” Is it all truly good if it takes time from the Lord? From my spouse? From taking time to rest? If the next weekend meeting, the next evening event, the next…you name it, takes all of my time to the point where I don’t even have time to slow down and catch my breath, are they truly good things?
Over the years, I’ve learned that eventually something has to give. Is it my time with the Lord? Time with my spouse? Sleep? Health and nutrition? I have also learned that if I don’t choose where to give something up, then I will unintentionally end up giving up things I shouldn’t. My husband always says, “Don’t let the urgent outweigh the important.” There are things that come up that feel urgent. It feels like they must be done immediately. But often those urgent things end up pushing out the important things. The things that should be a priority to us. If we don’t hold those important things as non-negotiables, as priorities that can’t be moved, then they will end up being pushed out by the urgent things that come up.
As I was reading in Mark 6 the other day, I noticed an interaction between Jesus and his disciples, right before the feeding of the five thousand, that I had never noticed before. Verse 31 says, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Jesus encourages, and even purposefully sets aside time for Him and His disciples to rest. They have been consumed with ministering to people, to the point where they haven’t even been able to take time to eat! Yet Jesus tells them it’s time to set aside time to rest. Now, don’t you think that ministry was important? Weren’t the people they were ministering to a priority? Of course! But if Jesus and the disciples didn’t take time to rest, spend time with their Heavenly Father, and even building up one another, they wouldn’t be able to pour out and continue their ministry to the people around them. The urgent things that come up are often not bad things, which can make it even harder to say no to them! But do we say yes to them at the expense of the important?
Back on March 10, Sam and I celebrated our 3-year wedding anniversary! Around Christmas time we started talking about taking a trip this year for our anniversary since we weren’t able to last year because of COVID. We talked off and on for three months about where we might want to go and when we might be able to “fit in” a trip like that. Before we knew it, it was March 6, and our anniversary was four days away! No trip was planned. We both realized that there was no way we were taking a trip for our anniversary with that short of notice. We both were really sad that three months had slipped away from us without planning our trip. Something we said was important to us got pushed off because of the seemingly urgent things that came up along the way.
I don’t have perfect answers as to how we resolve this in our daily lives. The reality is that sometimes we can’t avoid the urgent. Sometimes we must make space for the urgent things, because sometimes they truly are urgent! But going into this summer, where the schedule is already packed with events, weddings, family time, preparing for a baby coming in the fall, and all kinds of other projects that need to get done, Sam and I decided to sit down and prioritize the important. To block off dates on the calendar for vacations (and actually stick to them!), to write in date nights and Saturdays that we are taking as times to rest, because we know that if we don’t do it now, before we know it the schedule will be filled with the urgent.
I would encourage you to prayerfully consider the important things in your life. How are you going to make sure they are prioritized? How are you going to make sure that when the urgent things arise, the important things don’t get pushed to the side? Maybe it’s sitting down like we did and blocking off dates. Maybe it’s building a weekly routine that establishes those important things in your daily life. Maybe it’s sitting down at the end of the month and evaluating how you’re doing at prioritizing those important things and then setting up goals of how you could do better the next month. Whatever works best for you and your family, give it a shot! There is no right or wrong answer, the most important thing is that we honor God with how we steward our time and that we don’t let the important things get pushed aside because of the urgent.