How do you prioritize your life?
“In order of importance: 1.Self, 2. Marriage, 3. Child. Of course all are as important as each other, but neglecting the one before is a disservice to the one after.”
Sometimes it feels like we are hesitant to accept this as truth, or at least I know I am. It feels selfish, un-Christlike, or not practical for a successful relationship. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more truth I find in it. I’m sure you’ve already thought of examples (In the event of a decompression, secure your oxygen mask on first, and then assist your child…), and Scripture kind of assumes it (love your neighbor as yourself). But I think the key to its truth lies in Kirke’s explanation that “neglecting the one before is a disservice to the one after”. It’s not actually possible to offer the best to your marriage if you’re not taking care of your own heart and body (and relationship with the Lord). And it’s not possible to offer the best to your child if you’re not investing in your marriage. Here are a couple examples from my own life, and silly as they may be, they’ve definitely influenced my thinking on the matter ::
First, I’ve always tried (whatever that word means) to shave my legs regularly for Logan. He’s never demanded it, but I just kind of deduced that smooth legs are preferable to prickly ones. However, with that self-imposed obligation dangling over every shower I took, the reality was that I rarely shaved my legs, even during warmer months. Then one winter as my legs erupted in goose-bumps in the cold air, I realized that I hated the way long hair felt on my legs. Hated it. And smooth legs were more comfortable, especially while sleeping or in cold weather. Once I had that revelation, I rarely skip shaving and sometimes shower just so that I can shave!
Second, and more recently, I started reading a book with a friend that requires a good bit of discussion at the end of each chapter. We schedule our phone conversations and I turn on a TV show for Valentine so I can talk uninterrupted. Normally, I believe that I can be the best possible mother by interacting with Valentine one-on-one or giving her a chance to play by herself in a highly productive or imaginative manner. But in this instance, I didn’t think twice about putting her in front of the TV, knowing that spending time pursuing holiness in a deliberate fashion could only make me a better mother. No amount of Montessori-style exercises or story time can compete with a mother who has an invigorated pursuit of the glory of God.
In the first instance, it was only by taking care of myself for its own sake that I was able to present to Logan more aesthetically pleasing legs. (I told you these were silly examples :) In the second instance, it was just something I knew instinctively, that I believe I should carry through to other parts of my mothering. My conclusion has been that, if done with the right motives, prioritizing your life as self—marriage—child is actually a more selfless way to live than the other way around. It has the potential for more longevity, whole-heartedness, less bitterness and burnout.
But what are you thoughts? Do you agree with Kirke’s quote? Any amendments or exceptions? I’m sure you have some insights…So many of us wrestle with these concepts on a daily basis!
(Photo of Jemima Kirke and Rafaella by via The Glow)