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Confession: it is so hard for me to simplify. But, I’m getting better at it. Who doesn’t want it all? Who wants to feel left out, less than, or odd? No one that I know of, especially not I. However, over the years, I have often felt these feelings if I didn’t comply with social norms.
Recently, I got stuck in the trap of allowing too many things into my life. I was involved in so many things, my kids were involved in wonderful programs, but there was little extra time for the most important things…. When we are stuck in this cycle it can be hard to see it. In my case, I got very sick. I got mono with two secondary infections. As I lie weak in bed week after week I did a lot of pondering. One afternoon a friend emailed me and asked me if I asked God yet why I was sick and what I was to learn from this? I knew that was what He was waiting for so I sat down in the rocking chair with a journal and a pen. I humbled myself and asked God what He was wanting me to know and learn from this experience. I wrote everything that came to my mind. My eyes were opened to the course I had been steering my life in. I was getting off the path of my mission. I know fully well that my mission is MOTHERHOOD. I was getting caught up in the glitter of trying to do other people’s missions—or what they thought was their missions. The good things I do and the talents I have and share are not my mission, but simply branches that overhang the path on my mission. I repented and resolved to get back on track. This required a lot of soul searching and honesty in removing the stuff that was cluttering my path. My job is to be home and with my kids often. This is the mission I will answer to God for.
Julie B. Beck reminds us, “Mothers who know are leaders. They do not abandon their plan by succumbing to social pressure and worldly models of parenting. These wise mothers who know are selective about their own activities and involvement to conserve their limited strength in order to maximize their influence where it matters most.” Conserve their limited strength. How powerful those words are. As much as I would like to think I’m unlimited in my strength and energy, it is not so. I’m only human. Sometimes, we women today seem to easily forget this and run faster than we have strength. We are reminded, “Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided; .. . but be diligent unto the end” (D&C 10:4). I know that the Lord will help me if I place all my trust in Him and lean not into my own understanding.
Motherhood isn’t glittery compared to the position and things the world offers us. You may often feel its a thankless job. Au contraire. Sister Jack said, “Some of you may say, ‘I’m just average. There’s nothing special about me or my life/ And yet what is manifested plainly to me is that you are extraordinary, you whose average day is lived in accordance with our Heavenly Father’s laws. No greater heroine lives in today’s world than the woman who is quietly doing her part. Generally unsung, you live everywhere — you live in Nebraska or Puerto Rico or Ghana or Canada or Czechoslovakia. You show your love for the Lord daily as you support husbands, nurture children, care for parents, benefit neighbors, serve in your schools, sit on community councils, and do much of the work of this world in and out of the home. No one is more impressive than you.”
I know God’s timing is impeccable and that He is preparing me for the next stage in my life and in motherhood.
I know that my life flows better and my heart is more content and at peace when I’m fulfilling the mission and role that God designed for me to do
How did I simplify?
I cut down the hours I work at home. I strictly was working two days a week in my home office, but I’ve cut down even the hours I work.
One of the businesses I was working so hard on this year required me to spend too much time out of the home. I decided that is not for my best and highest good to pursue. God will bring me the people who need my help, but I don’t have to chase after them.
I’ve had to cut down all the social things I was involved in. I need to conserve my energy and in some of the “trading for services” I was doing was taking up monumental amounts of time, so I had to cut out many of those.
I try to plan my day around not leaving the house so much.
I cut down how many hours I was spending at the gym and exercising more as a family.
I did more purging of stuff in the home.
We’re getting ready to move to Germany and just knowing that has limited my getting involved in more things.
I spend less time talking on the phone, texting, or online.
What did I Add?
In addition to reading aloud to the family. I’m taking time to read a book to each child. A chapter a day goes faster than many might think.
More reading hours for myself.
More time in nature for the whole family. Many of these are activities in the backyard or local playground, but many are also planned days at a beautiful setting in the mountains, near the river walk, etc. where we bring books and nature journals.
More time tutoring in the areas I was inspired to help the kids in: i.e. root words, suffixes, prefixes, etc, flash cards for multiplication, and flash cards for the ABC’s.
Everyone’s cut list will look different. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is to place trust in the Lord that in cutting out all the extras I will still feel fulfilled, connected, and have good friends. I simply am prioritizing according to the way God wants me to live. That is not always easy. Sometimes we see a different path for ourselves.
Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided; .. . but be diligent unto the end” (D&C 10:4). Your children and husband need you. Simplify and regain strength for what is most important.