Setting Priorities

By Joelle Yamada

Photo by Pixabay

When I was almost 40, and had been been married for nearly 10 years, with three preschoolers and a teenager, it dawned on me that I was still incredibly selfish.

I realized that I often made decisions that are “all about me” rather than choices that were focused on the well-being of my family. I felt like a 23 year old trapped in a body that was... well...  clearly not 23 anymore.

You’ll often hear this mantra in women’s and mother’s groups: Take time for yourself. I’m always the first to say a hearty, “Amen!” But I’m pretty sure that mantra is meant for women who are so focused on their families that they tend to neglect their own personal life. And if that is you, then by all means, you need to get away and recharge. A woman with a dead battery isn’t much good to her family.

But, honestly? That’s not me. I have more than my fair share of “me time.”

When it happens, how does my selfishness play itself out in our family? I could give several examples, but most frequently it comes down to one thing: the computer. 

In the mornings, I’m checking e-mail or our bank account or updating my status on Facebook or doing something really important like playing an online word game with another internet friend. Doing that means breakfast is often later than I planned or the dishes get ignored or we are late to get out the door for our activities.

In the afternoons, when I’m already running low on energy and tolerance, the selfishness really rears its ugly head.  We have quiet time after lunch, and during that time I’m often working on (you guessed it!) the computer. I really am working, but when the kids’ time is up, dragging myself away from “my time” is like pulling teeth. I shove in a DVD and say BE QUIET and go back to my own thing. Lovely, right?

Now, computers are not inherently evil, and I believe using a DVD as a tool in parenting is fine to do at times. But both can become inappropriate. And only you know when that moment comes.

The Bible doesn't say, “Thou shalt not be on the computer for more than one hour per day.” But when Jesus came to earth, he told us that the laws, the ways he wanted us to live, would now be written on our hearts. To me that means I have an even greater responsibility to figure out what is right and wrong than people living before Christ, who were simply required to keep the list of laws given them in the first books of the Bible. God asks that I do more than follow a checklist. He wants me to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. And I’m pretty sure the word for me is often, “Stand up, Joelle.”

When the “me time” needs to be put on hold until after bedtime or until tomorrow, I simply need to stand up. Listen to the tug on my heart and move on with healthy choices for myself and my family.