There are certain things in my life that I’ve learned should be non-negotiable practices for me. They are the disciplines that when and if I let them slip for too long . . . and believe me, it has happened . . . I very quickly begin to see the negative effects in my mood, my attitude, and in my life in general. On the other hand, when I stick with these things on a pretty regular basis, I most definitely see the benefits and the good fruit that results. But the thing I have to keep circling back to, that I continually must remind myself of, is this, I’m not doing these things just for the sake of doing them. It’s not about a performance or getting the proverbial gold star. There’s a purpose to these practices, and the end result is worth the discipline it takes to make these part of my life.
Before I dive into my “kind of, sort of” non negotiables, I want to make something clear, the word discipline often has a negative connotation. As humans we generally default to easy and often equate discipline and doing hard things with discomfort. But the truth is, these are all things I truly enjoy, and while they may sometimes be uncomfortable in the moment (I mean, working out, in particular, can be a bit unpleasant), discomfort and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, will generally bring growth. The reality is we all have a tendency to be lazy, even about the good things, and I’m certainly no exception.
Without further ado . . . and in order from most important to least (but they’re all important):
- Spending time with God through the Word and in prayer. Y’all if I don’t take the time to seek the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, I am not the best wife or mother or person. Sometimes it’s reading and studying multiple chapters of the bible and deep, long prayers, but I’ll admit, other times it’s briefly meditating on scriptures and praying on the fly. The latter isn’t preferable, but it happens. I will own that. And regardless of how it looks from day to day, God is the most important person in my life. Without taking the time to grow in that relationship, every other part of my life suffers.
- Carving out the time to spend with my husband . . . whether that be taking the time to actually sit and talk without interruptions each day, making sure we go on dates, or making plans to get away . . . I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, my marriage is second only to God, and if I want it to thrive, I have to make the effort and pour into it.
- Family time . . . I’m sure you can see a pattern here. Relationships matter, and my relationships with my kids matter. Whether it be, sitting down and eating dinner together most nights (this one is at the top of my list of the most important things we do as a family), playing a board game, listening and actually taking an interest as my oldest hashes out every single detail of the current NBA season, or sitting with my youngest and just reading and playing. These are the practices that build a strong family, and I’m not a perfect parent by a long shot, but I am constantly working toward learning and doing better.
- Regularly attending church. That’s not to say we never miss a Sunday. We do, but if we’re home, and we’re healthy and able, we go to church. Are there Sundays I’d rather stay home and catch up on all the chores? Absolutely, and there are times when I have done just that. But as a rule, I’ve found that I never regret going to church even when there are million other things going on.
- Working out and taking care of my health . . . and this includes preparing and cooking healthy meals for my family most days of the week. I often have to explain to people that the reasons I work out and (try to) eat right (most of the time) go far beyond fitting into a certain pair of jeans or a number on the scale. I firmly believe God created our bodies to move, and we need to move not only for our physical health but also for our mental and emotional health. Sometimes I change it up. Sometimes I give my body a break, but over the years I’ve found that too much time off and too much junk food leaves me feeling moody and sluggish and worn out.
- Keeping and following a schedule (within reason). I’m a list maker and a schedule follower, and I need organization to have peace. So I take the time to sit down and work out how each day of our week will look, appointments, cleaning, laundry, work outs, games, meals, grocery shopping, vacations, parties . . . it’s all there, and for me, knowing what is ahead gives me a sense of calm. Having said that, I’ve learned not to hold to my schedule so tightly that I can’t handle a last minute change of plans, whether that be meeting my husband for lunch or taking a kiddo to the doctor.
As I said in the beginning these are my “kind of, sort of” non-negotiables, and I say that because while they are all extremely important and are a huge part of what makes me function well on a day to day basis, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes the schedule crashes and burns. Sometimes I miss a work out and eat junk. Sometimes I’m so exhausted that I crawl in bed with only a kiss and and “I love you” for my husband before I pass out. Sometimes I do stay home from church. And yes, sometimes, I have the best intentions, but I look up, and it’s 3:00 p.m., and I haven’t read even a snatch of scripture or spoken two words to God all day. And it’s on those days that I remind myself that this isn’t about perfection. It’s not about checking things off the list or meeting some unspoken goal. I remind myself why these practices are such an integral part of my life and so important. I give myself grace, and I jump right back in the next day.
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