Ever have those times in your life when you are overwhelmingly busy with work, home life, friends and just don’t seem to have enough time or energy? Yup, that’s been me lately. It’s frustrating to me that I can’t accomplish everything I want to in a timely manner. I know it’s frustrating to others that they are not seeing things done in the way they would like them done. And yet, despite the busyness (because this happens to me quite a bit), at this time of my life as I’m about to turn 30, I feel like overall, I’ve finally gotten the hang of priorities in my life.
Priority #1- God
Priority #2- My Vocation of Marriage
Priority #2.5- Me
Priority #3- Family and Friends
Priority #4- My Vocation of Work
Priority #5- Everything Else
It’s definitely a struggle to keep these all where they are. And at times one item moves above the other, with the exception of #1. God gets that place. Permanently. There have been quite a few times when I’ve struggled with this. I would miss one, then two, then all five Daily Masses in a week, all the while thinking, “I’m doing God’s work in my work vocation, I don’t need to go to Daily Mass.” But this resulted in me just doing work for God instead of taking the opportunity to be in God’s presence.
Now, I’m not saying that everyone needs to be attending Daily Mass, but if you work at a Church, the importance of ministering out of the excess of God’s graces in your life rather than your own needs with God are important. And whenever I’m contemplating skipping out on personal relationship time with God to do something else, I keep in mind what St. Bernard said, “In ministry we must be like reservoirs which give from the overflow rather than channels which pass water & retain not a drop.”
Priority #2 is relatively new in name, but not in concept, in my life. My husband and I married in March of this year and in the six years we dated, he was definitely my second priority, but marriage is very different from a non-marriage relationship. So I’m still learning how this works in the priorities of my life, and it’s definitely added to the struggle of busyness and balance, but it’s a good struggle, as I learn to be a wife and address the needs of my husband and our marriage. Which brings me to why “Me” is Priority #2.5.
I place myself at Priority #2.5 because without taking time for myself to make sure I’m doing good, then I can’t make sure my marriage is doing well or accomplish any of the other priorities. This doesn’t mean I act selfishly either. It just means that since I’m an introvert, I make sure I give myself at least 15 minutes of quiet time a day just to relax and recharge. It also means I make sure that I try to stay healthy, so that I can address all of my other priorities. So I try to workout regularly, take vitamins and medicines as needed.
My family and friends are Priority #3 because of family and community needs. I have a large family with three brothers and a sister and countless aunts, uncles and cousins. And now that I’m married I have a whole new family too. I also am blessed to know many people and call so many people friends. Some of these friends live locally, some of them live in other countries. But maintaining these relationships are important, because without these relationships, I could not and would not be the person I am in my personal and spiritual life. They are a source of strength and support for me, and at times, I am for them too.
Some may be surprised that my vocation of work is my Priority #4, especially since I’ve been called to work as a Youth Minister in a Church. However, if I did not place the other priorities above this one, I would not be competent nor would I be accomplish God’s vocational call for me. Just because while I minister to God’s people, it does not mean that others are a priority over my family and friends, myself, my marriage or God. Unfortunately, this has been a tough thing for many to understand, and sometimes it’s tough for me to keep balanced in my life. But I cannot be or do more than God wants for me, and I continue to understand my limitations in how to address this priority in relationship to the others.
Priority #5 is pretty vague: “Everything Else.” But it’s true. Within this #5 I have certain things that take precedence over others (Austin Catholic New Media being one of them), but I try not to place anything that is in this category above the others. Occasionally there is a need for me to, but I try to make sure this doesn’t happen too often. And I’m still learning how to do a better job at making time for the “Everything Else.”
Unfortunately, we live in a society of busyness, where it’s a struggle to keep priorities in line. But next time someone says hello to you and asks how you’re doing, contemplate your answer. Are you busy beyond priority control, or are you manageably busy? Because if you’re busy but able to manage and prioritize, then you’re living the life of focused priorities God is calling us to. And if not, then maybe you need to take some time and examine how God is calling you to live priorities.
So there’s a list of my priorities. What are yours?
“It is necessary to be strong, in order to become great: that is our duty. Life is a struggle, which we cannot avoid. We must triumph!” -St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina