The Question Every Mom Needs To Ask Herself
How you answer this question affects everything.
It’s a game-changer. It’ll make or break the way your day goes.
But perhaps even more importantly, it’ll affect the way you THINK AND FEEL about how your day goes.
ESSENTIALISM, FOR MOMS
I’ve been listening to the book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown. And so far, I love it. It’s one of those books I’ve had to go back through certain sections of, because it’s so challenging and meaty.
His basic thesis is that we should approach life more purposefully, focusing on what is “essential.” But as opposed to minimalism, or just “saying no” more– it’s actually saying “no” SO THAT you can say “yes” to the most essential things.
So then I’ve been wondering. How does this concept apply to me, and to you, as moms?
Because we could have thousands of things on our to-do list, and as Christian women, the load may feel even more burdensome. I mean, wouldn’t Bible reading and prayer always win out over everything else? Not to mention that as moms, we really DO have to be able to multi-task and prioritize a LOT of different things each day. Right?
The question every mom needs to ask herself is this:
WHAT IS THE MOST ESSENTIAL THING FOR ME TO DO RIGHT NOW?
Let’s say you’re a homeschool mom, like me– you could answer it any number of ways in any given moment:
- Explain a math concept to your 7th-grader
- Scrub dishes so the kitchen counter stays clear
- Take a bath or paint toenails so you feel ready and excited to connect intimately and confidently with your husband tonight
- Reading aloud to your kids
- Listen to your child who is learning to read while he reads aloud
- Tidy the living room single-handedly, or with all the kids helping
- Make dinner alone, or with the 8-year-old helping
- Listen to a podcast, or reading an article
Truthfully, for each of us, there are INFINITE possibilities, right?
What it really boils down to is this:
- AM I PLACING VALUE ON THE RIGHT THING?
Here are some sample questions that can help you think about what you tend to deem valuable:
- Do you think it’s more important that your house be cleaned each night before bed, or that you take time to connect with your husband?
- Do you think it’s more important that your friend gets to stay at your house and chit-chat longer, or that dinner gets prepared and is ready at the right time?
- Do you think it’s more important that you have time to browse Facebook or that your hall closet gets organized?
- Do you think it’s more important for you to snuggle with your child on the couch or to get the vegetables planted today?
And here’s the thing: none of those questions has a clear “right” and “wrong” for every season or person.
Each person may answer those questions differently, but also… the same person in different seasons could answer each question differently. Different circumstances could dictate a different answer.
But the point remains: Are you placing emphasis on the right thing for YOU, and your HOME, for THIS season?
- Plenty of wives have “loved” their kids or friends or work more than their husband and ended up divorced. Some are honest enough to look back and say, “you know, I didn’t really work at it the way I should have. He probably felt neglected.” Will you end up looking back with regret at how you prioritized (or didn’t prioritize) your husband?
- Plenty of moms have looked back with regret at how much they focused on a clean house, or their careers, and realized they missed time with their kids. Will that be you?
- Plenty of people have looked back on their spiritual lives with disappointment and feel inadequate to give wisdom from God’s Word because they haven’t hidden it in their hearts. Are you doing what it takes to grow wiser and healthier as a believer?
Each year, day, and moment, we can ask:
WHAT is the most essential thing? And is that what I’m doing? Not just the most demanded thing… not just the most urgent thing… not just the most “responsible” thing… but the most essential.
Even if there are a thousand other things you could be doing, when you are fully convinced that you’re doing the most essential thing, there is peace.
So, take the kitchen v. husband thing:
- Your husband may want to veg out on the couch together. But you see the big picture of a busy week ahead. After ten or fifteen minutes of chatting, you joyfully get up and put in some elbow grease and get some meals made or the kitchen tidied.
- Or, you might constantly feel the pull of the messy kitchen counter, but your husband is desperate for some time snuggling and connecting with you, so you ignore the kitchen, plop down next to him, and enjoy a few hours of sitting together without guilt.
Or, the Facebook v. closet organization:
- Facebook may be constantly tugging at your mind. But your home is in disarray and need organizing. So you purposefully shut off Facebook so that you can do what needs doing.
- Or perhaps, you’re a mom of many little kids; your house may always have some sort of mess in it that could be cleaned. But you are a neat freak and have spent enough time on that this week. Today, you could choose to use Facebook in a way that would minister to others and enable you to have deeper connections with your family, church family, and friends. So you purposefully stop organizing and re-organizing everything, so that you can prioritize people and relationships above neatness.
Do you see how the same 2 (or more) events competing for your interest could be looked at through different lenses? Do you see how it’s really NOT about the choice you decide on, but more about the question you use to GET to that choice?
As believing women, I believe we have key advantages:
- We have the Spirit of God living inside us, to help us. He will convict us of sin. He will lead us to what needs doing.
- We have confidence in God’s sovereignty. If something doesn’t get done, we don’t have to feel anxious or angry. He doesn’t NEED us to “do it all” for all the things He means to be done to GET done. He gave us the hours in our day and the resources we had available. He gives us a need for sleep, and a finite amount of energy and skill. We can rest in His sovereign care over all things.
- We have Scripture to help us assess our priorities so that we don’t call “valuable” what God says is worthless and devalue the things God says are best.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
- You could be doing plenty of “good” things that are the wrong things.
- You could be doing things other people find valuable that are not actually the “wisest” and “best” use of your time.
- You could be doing things that used to be “worth it” but are now not the best, most essential thing YOU can be doing in the here & now.
- You could be making “progress” and doing plenty of stuff, but be missing the most essential pieces of the puzzle of WHY God has made you as He has, and WHY He put you in the family and home that He did.
Each day, each moment, you are given the opportunity to ask yourself this question:
AM I DOING THE MOST ESSENTIAL THING?
Over the next week, I’m going to be looking at this question in MY life, applying it each day, and hopefully whipping things back into shape, so I can do the most “essential” things in my home, family, and life.
I look forward to sharing with you and getting your feedback.
IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE:
- When you look at your life through this lens, are there things that immediately stand out to you as things that you’ve focused on, or taken on guilt about, that truly aren’t “essential?”
Subscribe to my newsletter, and I'll send monthly encouragement -- full of truth and grace for moms. SIGN UP, SO WE CAN KEEP IN TOUCH: