Do you ever feel like there’s this huge list of things you “should be” doing that you are constantly failing at? Do you feel slightly resentful when you notice that someone else seems to be coping better than you?
Over the last few years, I have really been honing in on what is important to me and what is not. More specifically, what is important to other people, but not to me.
I’m convinced that one of the great causes of stress in our lives is because we take on the expectations or priorities of other people, thereby loading up our plates with much more than we can handle.
I used to see things that other women did, and think “If she’s doing that, then I should too!” or “Hmm, I don’t really care about that, but maybe I should?”
It has been incredibly freeing to realise that, while there definitely things that are good and bad for everyone, there are also plenty of things out there that come down to preference!
I need to decide on my own priorities in my life (in this season!), rather than taking them from people whose lives are completely different to mine.
Here are some examples of things I have come to realise:
- Making all the baby food from scratch is not important to me. Feeding the baby nutritious food is important to me.
- It’s not important to me to have all the dishes washed at the end of the night, but it is important to me that the kitchen bench is clear and clean.
- I don’t need to wear make-up every day, but I won’t leave the house unless I smell nice.
- At this stage, I can manage to vacuum about once a week (even though it probably needs doing more!), but I try to pick up all the toys daily.
- And on it goes…
As you read through that list, you probably reflected on your own priorities in those areas. Do you think it’s gross that I don’t wash the dishes every night? Does it seem excessive that I would vacuum more than once a week if I could?
Good! It’s great to be aware of where your priorities differ from other people. The key is not to let it bother you. Don’t let yourself feel either superior or inferior to someone else because different things are important to you.
As I have spent the time (not really dedicated time – more just evaluating my thoughts as these things come up naturally) to really decide on what my priorities are, it frees me from the burden of doing things just because they matter to other people.
The exception here is when it comes to our husbands. They are the one person for whom we should take on another person’s priorities, even if it’s not that important to us.
For example, this term our kids have been doing swimming lessons. Now, objectively, I can see why it’s important for them to learn water safety. But it wasn’t really something that I felt compelled to do (in fact, I think all the logistics of getting ready, getting there and then getting back really put me off). But it’s something I am now doing with them because it’s important to my husband (and – just quietly – I’m kind of enjoying it).
And there are plenty of things like that – things I do because they matter to him, but not to me.
The funny thing is, where taking on the priorities of others is burdensome, taking on the priorities of my husband is freeing. When I complete a task he asked me to do (or when I anticipate a need and meet it before he asks), I feel such a rush of joy and a strong sense of accomplishment. And I think this is because, in doing so, I am fulfilling my God-given role as his helper. “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
And I guess that’s the difference – we weren’t made to be helpers for all people (or even all men!), only for our own husbands.
So if you feel like this resonates with you, let me encourage you to stop taking on the priorities of other people. Think hard about what is important to you, ask what is important to your husband. And then be free to let things go.