As I mentioned in a previous post I enjoyed an interview on the Mormon Channel with Sister Julie B. Beck. Among the thoughts she shared I found great truth when she said, "When your priorities are out of order you lose power over your life."
What are our priorities? I think as women of the covenant and sisters in the great worldwide organization-Relief Society-our priorities are different than the women of the world. The First Presidency has identified several key things that they name as the highest priority. In a letter to the membership of the church they said,
We can also recall Elder Oakes counsel of good, better, best to seek the best priorities. I loved Elder Maynes recent conference address where he suggests developing "celestial traditions" for protection to our family. Based on these ideas I developed a list of the most basic priorities that are the most important in my role as wife and mother.
“We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities. However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform” (First Presidency letter, Feb. 11, 1999).
Personal priorities: prayer, scripture study, church attendance, and regular dates with spouse. Ensuring that three family meals are prepared and eaten together, clothes are cleaned, and basic housekeeping is maintained.
Family Priorities: prayer, scripture study, church attendance, Family Home Evening, wholesome family activities, and specific attendance in each organization (Young Women's, Priesthood duties, Primary, Relief Society, etc).
That is a very basic list. I may be missing something obvious. I think most of our lists with be somewhat the same.
A secondary list of priorities would include: fasting, temple attendance, visiting teaching completed, magnify a calling, etc. These are of course very essential.
The juggling of these basic priorities requires order. I think of it as a "House of Order." When these things are not done than disorder and confusion are the results.
What is the power that we will lose out of our life? When our priorities are out of order we will lose the power of the Holy Ghost in our lives. When we have our family priorities in a place we have built for our lives that day a sure foundation. We are so ordered that we are entitled to the ongoing companionship of the Spirit. That ongoing companionship of the Spirit is so vital that it is impossible to navigate successfully through this day and age by ourselves. The Holy Ghost cannot dwell in us when we are house of confusion and disorder. When our lives are lived in a knee-jerk reaction to the demands of outside forces we cannot claim the power of the Holy Ghost that is necessary.
Sister Beck points out that when we have those vital things done in our lives and our family's lives each day than you can live your day calmly and peacefully. You will not be blown to and fro.
We may cause our lives to be unorderly when we focus on self. When we spend time on the computer, gaming, watching TV, shopping, crafting, or reading "brain candy" books without first ensuring that the daily priorities in our family are met we will find ourselves out of order. Of course there are the unexpected times when we can't have a perfect day, but when we focus on having a day filled with keeping our priorities I have found that it is rare indeed to have a day when I feel "out of control."
I think generally we try to stay grounded. I loved Sister Beck's comment though because it says when we do the right things-our priorities-we will be in balance and we will face much less depression and stress. As I see now clearly how to avoid those burnout moments of depression, sadness, anxiety, or being overwhelmed I can see what I need to focus on. I need to fulfill my role as nurturer and I will find peace each day from the constant companionship of the Spirit. The Spirit will cause me to be happy and recognize my self-worth.
As I review the headgate principles and think about developing "celestial traditions" (and not telestial or terrestrial ones in my life or my family's life) I realize that I need to make sure that I close the wrong headgates in my own life also. The wrong headgates will cause me to overlook my priorities, face addictions, and keep me off track. So I can ask myself the same questions I asked about my children's toys. What are my toys that I use in my free time? (Facebook, gaming, reading, etc). Who was the creative one-the toy maker or me? Are we making "little junks" and wasting family resources all in the name of crafting? Are we watching movies that our children are not allowed to watch? Do we read books that contain pornography, but rationalize it because we are married adult women? Perhaps as adults we are "entitled" to things that are children are not? Sister Beck has spoken often on a latter-day philosophy of women believing they are entitled to things. She says we must reject that mentality.
Perhaps we feel we are entitled to "me time?" I have a wise friend who says we don't need "me time" we need "God time." He will heal us and strengthen us in all the ways we need. When we have God time from having established correct order in our homes than the Spirit will teach us what we need. Perhaps we need to go on a walk or read a book. If God is our mentor we will have the Spirit teaching us and telling us when it's time to get back in the battle. The Spirit will teach us when we have been on the computer to long or whether we are wasting our time and need to do something else.
More headgate thoughts. Are we pursuing the internet, book reading, TV time, shopping, crafting with the Spirit? Have we first done our family work for the day and ensured that everything is well ordered? Then with the Spirit directing us we will read the right book for the right amount of time. We will pursue worthwhile art that will bless our family. We will use the internet for a limited time to study or do family history. We will do it at the right time and for the right amount time because the Spirit will be our constant companion.
When we have the power of the Spirit, which comes from correct priorities, we will have that constant guide telling us what to do and how to live our lives. We will learn how to submit. We will have Christ has our 'living center.'
Through the years I have seen women (and many times it has been me!) who are running their lives from one sporting event to the next, one running workout to the next, or one project to the next, one workbook page to the next, etc. etc. Most of them are harried, stressed, tired, and empty. Their life is being controlled by society's demands and expectations.
Again I am grateful for Sister Beck's counsel. Whether we home educate or not we can find balance in our lives by seeking to fulfill our priorities for the day. Again that promised blessing is the ongoing companionship of the Spirit with its great blessing of joy filling our lives!