Pondering my situation of having 7 days in a row off every other week is as equally exhilarating as intimidating. It is a weighty responsibility to have that much time available- especially being single where my relative number of responsibilities dictating where I place my time and energy are few. How I best take advantage of the time I have is a frequent source of pondering.
This week I was on the phone discussing my schedule with a new acquaintance. He was duly surprised, as most people are, to discover my “freedom”. He said if I were you I know exactly what I would do. I have so many road trips I want to take. I would be taking every advantage and go explore- starting with… and then he rattled off a bunch of destinations. When I got off the phone I was noticeably unsettled and perhaps even anxious. I had no exciting “get away” planned for this coming week off. I have things to do, but I couldn’t help but ask- Am I wasting my opportunities? Should I be doing more? Am I boring, unadventurous, unprepared, or lack luster? Why don’t I take advantage? Then the fatal- What do people think of me and how I use my time? In my defense, I have yet to have an unproductive, boring, lazy day; yet… Once my mind boarded this train I learned it was an express line to self-doubt. So much so that when I kneeled to pray that night I more specifically pled for guidance with my time. No sooner than I expressed that plea did an answer come- even while I was still praying. (God rarely responds so quickly.) It was a simple thought- “Good, Better, Best” by Elder Oaks. That was it, nothing more- but I didn’t need any more. I then understood my real struggle is with my priorities. I need to know with conviction what my priorities are. Using my priorities to make my decisions I can stand tall in my confidence and defense of my choices. I will be at peace.
I have a “general” understanding of my priorities, but until this point I have not specifically sat down with the purpose to recognize and determine my priorities. Resultingly, I let priorities of others overwhelm me until I noticed the heavy dose of self doubt that joined in on the fun.
So the question remains- What are my priorities? I have discovered this to be a much bigger question than first glance may indicate. Because, in order to truly answer it, a few big brother questions must also be addressed- What do I believe and/or value? Who am I-Heather McOmber- really? and Who do I want to become? These are the twins that must be faced first. But why stop there? I think some younger siblings may also apply in this situation- What do I want to experience? What brings me joy? What is my life path? ALL of these questions are daunting. Fortunately, at least I know I believe in the gospel and I believe the words of the 12 apostles. So during my pondering I turned to the talk I was prompted to consult. Through “Good, Better, Best” I found amazing guidance and clairvoyance cutting through the cobwebs of the world and its messages.
I realize this blog is long- so for the short attention span audience member -I am starting with THE most important for me at this juncture in my life.
“Some young people are amusing themselves to death—spiritual death.”
Wow and wow- that was mind boggling to me. This is exactly what I felt “the world” and my own natural man have been trying to tell me. AMUSE yourself to spiritual death- it will be great! I was so relieved to hear life is not about amusement and it isn’t about the next adventure. I hadn’t realized how much pressure I felt to do something “Fun, cool, or impressive” in an “amusing” framework- because “I can” and others can’t so I “should”. As if it is expected of me. I have to answer the question of what I did on my week off to everyone. I feel I should have some spectacular answer to give. When I read this, I felt a weight fly off and the spirit testify that “Fun” and “Pleasure” are not first priorities. Knowing my priority is not to impress myself or others brought a marvelous feeling of peace. Not that any of these activities are bad in their own place -Elder Oaks stated it well when he said …
“But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it.”
He continues with:
“We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all.
We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families. Some of our most important choices concern family activities.
President Gordon B. Hinckley has pleaded that we “work at our responsibility as parents as if everything in life counted on it, because in fact everything in life does count on it.”
I thought with 7 days off every other week I would have more than enough time for it ALL. But I learned quickly-no matter what- we live in a finite world. We simply cannot do it all. We must make choices! We must set our priorities! And we must sacrifice! The question is- is what are we willing to Sacrifice.
Through his servant God teaches that developing faith and strengthening families are our first priorities. Although I am not a mother or married- I AM a part of a family. And when you include ward family I am apart of a couple families. My families- in all their forms- need to be on top of my list. Gallivanting the world all the time- no matter how enticing and desirable that may be for me- cannot strengthen my families.
[Currently I am overwhelmed with the size of the book that is forming rather than the blog post that I had originally set out to write. But I’m just not done yet. It is a big topic and one that I need to sort out... so…. I continue.]
The final clip of Elder Oaks talk that hit the nail on the head was about Martha. This will be my 3rd week off in a row God has sent a message to me about Martha. Maybe I need to pay better attention!
Jesus taught this principle in the home of Martha. While she was “cumbered about much serving” (Luke 10:40), her sister, Mary, “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (v. 39). When Martha complained that her sister had left her to serve alone, Jesus commended Martha for what she was doing (v. 41) but taught her that “one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (v. 42). It was praiseworthy for Martha to be “careful and troubled about many things” (v. 41), but learning the gospel from the Master Teacher was more “needful.” The scriptures contain other teachings that some things are more blessed than others (see Acts 20:35; Alma 32:14–15).
I can say I am a Martha- careful and troubled about many things. BUT… only ONE thing is needful. That is it- nothing else! Coming unto Christ is the one thing. When comparing what is good, better, or best- I know the measuring stick- I know the gold standard, I know what is best. That is all that matters. And this idea of only one thing is needful is hitting home to every aspect of myself. I am in awe of what I can get “worked up” or anxious about. If I compare it to “The One” thing my cares and troubles simply disappear. Granted sometimes it disappearing is in theory. I have to work on letting this new perspective take stronger hold and carry more weight. It is still in infantile state- but with a lot of potential.
Over the week another priority has pushed its way to the surface- Learning, life long learning- both spiritual and secular. Pres Eyring said “We will have to make some hard choices of how we use our time… But remember, you are interested in education, not just for mortal life but for eternal life. It means that we cannot waste time entertaining ourselves when we have the chance to read or to listen to whatever will help us learn what is true and useful. Insatiable curiosity will be our hallmark.”
Elder Hales said “Lifelong learning is essential to the vitality of the human min, body and soul. It enhances self-worth and self-actuation. Lifelong learning is invigoration mentally and is a great defense against aging, depression, and self-doubt.”
So actively engaging in learning is a must whether it is learning a new skill or reading an enlightening book or even studying a new topic. How exciting are these prospects. How about: voice lessons, getting back to my guitar, picking a topic at the library to study, more in- depth scripture study, institute…
Okay- How about a summary?
Priorities are NOT Amusements/time entertaining myself
Priorities ARE: Coming unto Christ in Faith and Study, My Families and Lifelong Learning
I’m going to add to My Priorities- developing gifts and talents, caring for the physical body with exercise and healthy diets, temple work, and keeping a house of order.
D&C 109:8 Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.
Isn’t it interesting how priorities based on God’s will are quiet and humble. I can’t take a picture of my mind to show off to the world the new information and wonders it has acquired with study. But the things of God bring joy, peace, and progression in this life which is the ultimate purpose and how we fulfill our creation. So what are my plans for tomorrow, my very last day off this week? A dance class in the am, a trip to the library to start cracking open some books on the subject of choice in the pm, and nightcapping it off with FHE and some visiting teaching. And I am excited.