Saturday, May 21, 2011

Is it Possible to "Have it All"?

I have been debating this concept for a very long time.  I have been wondering what life, my life in particular, would look like if everything was "perfect."  (And in my mind, "perfect" looks something like this: a clean house, well behaved pets, stress free work environment, stress free home environment, enough time to work out, cook, and bowl with the hubs, plus free time for reading, watching my favorite shows, and playing- with Jared, with the dogs, or just by myself.)

I have come to the conclusion that if all this were to really happen, then it would either be an alternate universe where there were 10 days in a week and about 30 hours in a day OR I would have to give up sleep and thrive without it.

So, instead, I deal with a somewhat clean house for a couple days a week (because as soon as the dogs come back from daycare- on Fridays only- they track all kinds of dirt back into the house).  And the dogs are mostly crazy most of the time, unless we are at work, then they are sleeping.  It takes time to train dogs. It takes endurance to train dogs.  It takes LOTS of treats to train dogs.  Not to mention, dogs need to go for walks and run around and play- this also takes time.

I also fantasize a lot about what it would be like to have little-to-no stress in my life, both at work and at home.  This is a wonderful fantasy!  However, the reality is much different.  I carry most of the tension in my life in my shoulders and neck.  When things get very stressful, I develop tension headaches!  Thankfully, my husband and I have worked into our budget a membership to Massage Envy.  This covers the cost of 1 massage a month... but I go for 2!  I use some of "my" money, my allowance, to get a second monthly massage.  This also helps a little.  I think, if I could "have it all," I would have a massage every week.  The stress of my work really comes from feeling like I am not doing a good enough job; but I am really not sure that a youth minister has ever existed that felt like they were doing a good enough job.  That's one of the problems with measuring ministry at all- it feels like there's always more we could be doing, more people we could be reaching.

The last component of my "having it all" fantasy is more time.  Time is our most precious commodity.  It is perhaps the scarcest commodity, also.  Time escapes us when we need it most.  How we spend our time demonstrates what we feel is a priority in our lives.  So, for example, I would rather and most prefer spending time with my family and friends 24/7.  But my reality right now is that I have to move in less than a month, so packing has taken a priority over some other things that I normally like to do- other ways to spend my time.

On top of that, there are times when I have to choose between two things that I would like to do, because I don't have time to do them both.  Jared and I didn't get to go bowling yesterday afternoon- we had too much to accomplish, plus we needed some laying around time.  So, we considered the possibility of going at night. (What this means: bowling on a Friday night means tons of people, loud music, and many, many inexperienced bowlers who do not understand the concept of "lane courtesy.")  I proposed that we go see a funny movie, since we haven't gone to see a movie in ages.  This is what we ended up doing.  Our plan, now, is to go bowling on Sunday afternoon- normally not an option, but we have no youth group this week because of our big All Nighter next Friday.

But time is all about priorities.  Overall, I think the answer to my original question- can we really have it all?- is "No."  And not because we can't ever have it all, but because we probably can't have it all all the time.  I go through phases in my spiritual journey where I makes lists to prioritize how I want to spend my time.  This past Lent, I tried to prioritize to make my life more enjoyable.  I included things like bowling and playing (a very important part of my relationship with my husband- tickle fights, tackling, etc.).

The truth is that when we want to have certain things or people in our lives, we will make them a priority.  We will make sure that we get to see so-and-so regularly, if we really want to.  We will make sure that we get to go to such-and-such a place, if we really want to.  It doesn't have to be a constant and consistent plan, but it does have to be a priority.  In the church, we have the concept that comes from the gospels, "Where your treasure is, your heart will be also," (Luke 12:34; Matthew 6:21).  Well, what do you treasure most?  I treasure my time.  How I spend my time demonstrates what I value most.

I guess this means that while I enjoy a clean house, it's not my top priority.  While I would love to have perfectly trained dogs, it's good enough to have really sweet pups who are so happy to see me when I get home that they jump on me occasionally.  And it's a wonderful thing to get to spend time with my husband no matter if we're bowling or snuggling on the couch.

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