I read, therefore I quote Gordon MacDonald and C.S. Lewis:
“Years ago, my father wisely shared with me that one of the great tests of human character is found in making critical choices of selection and rejection amidst all of the opportunities that lurk in life’s path. ‘Your challenge,’ he told me, ‘will not be in separating out the good from the bad, but in grabbing the best out of all the possible good.’ He was absolutely correct. I did indeed have to learn, sometimes the hard way, that I had to say no to things I really wanted to do in order to say yes to the very best things . . .
If we are to command our time, we will have to bite the bullet and say a firm but courteous no to opportunities that are good but not the best.
Once again that demands, as it did in the ministry of our Lord, a sense of our mission . . . What do we do best with our time? What are the necessities without which we cannot get along? Everything else has to be considered negotiable: discretionary, not necessary.
I love the words C.S. Lewis wrote in Letters to an American Lady about the importance of these choices:
‘Don’t be too easily convinced that God really wants you to do all sorts of work you needn’t do. Each must do his duty ‘in that state of life to which God has called him’ . . . there can be intemperance in work just as in drink. What feels like zeal may be only fidgets or even the flattering of one’s self-importance . . . By doing what ‘one’s station and its duties’ does not demand, one can make oneself less fit for the duties it does demand and so commit some injustice. Just you give Mary a little chance as well as Martha.'”
Ordering Your Private World
What C.S. Lewis refers to as “that state of life to which God has called him’ I frequently refer to as a “season” of life. There are seasons for things, as I mentioned at the end of my last therefore I quote post. I want to do everything I want to do, if you know what I mean, but I CAN’T.
I see friends working themselves to the point of sickness and stressing their minds and bodies to the point of exhaustion and poor health and ineffectiveness and I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I reacted to the demands of life and other people in my life and I just moved forward, taking action without contemplating whether I should. Without evaluating my capabilities and time limitations and without realizing the impact of adding responsibilities without letting go of others.
As a result, I failed. I failed in many ways. I failed friends, family, employers and clients. I did many things – none of them very well, in my opinion. I gained weight. My body got weaker. I got pneumonia three times and bronchitis so many times I lost count. I was cranky and irritable from a lack of both sleep and solitude. Overwhelmed with responsibilities, some of which resulted from poor, unthoughtful choices on my part.
Then, one by one, I began making hard and intentional choices. Saying no to things that were good, but not best. When I gave up a responsibility, someone else filled my shoes. In some cases, the jobs got done just as well and sometimes better than I did them. A blow the ego, yes. But the time I’ve found has been it’s own reward. More time with my family in this tiny season of life before my kids grow up. Time for solitude and a personal, daily time with God. Time to exercise and make healthy food choices for both myself and my family.
There are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do right now. I don’t have the energy or stamina or skills or knowledge . . . I have to DECIDE what’s important in THIS season of my life and focus on those things. Other things will have to wait. The hard part is, some things may have to wait forever.
“. . . therefore I quote” Thursday: If you have a quote to share from something you’ve read recently, feel free to comment and/or include a link to your own “quote” post.
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