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guiltAt church last week, I was in a room full of 3-8 year olds that were having a lesson on repentance.  The teacher asked “what is something that you might do that is wrong or a mistake.” A few hands went up, but they needed a little help thinking of some things to say.  “Not sharing”, “Not doing what mom said.”

The next hour the same question was asked to a group of older kids, aged 8-11 years.  A whole bunch of hands went up.  “Copying someone else’s work at school.” “Telling my brother he’s not allowed to play with me.”  “Promising I would help with something and not doing it” and “Scratching your sister with your fingernails.” If we had let them, they could have kept coming up with more mistakes the whole class time.

It was interesting to see that the older kids were able to come up with so many more ways that they could make mistakes.  Maybe they had more years of experience of getting into trouble?  Maybe…

As adult’s and especially as a mom, there are a million things that we can come up with to feel guilty about. But are they all really mistakes? Does everything we feel bad about require repentance?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big believer in the grace of God and the wonderful power of repentance, but sometimes guilt just comes from unrealistic expectations.  The list of things we feel we need to get done in a day seems endless, and truly it can be. There will always be something more that can be done.

In a world where there are no time restraints, and endless energy, I would get so much done!!  But here on earth that just isn’t the case.

Are there so many activities planned that there is no way to get it all done in a day? Am I stretched so thin, that it is really hard to stay patient with my kids?  Is my schedule so tight, that my the kids are upset that I’m making them late?  Is there room in the day to just sit and talk to a child whose having a hard day and really needs me?

Then what happens at the end of a crazy day full of too many “good things” that I couldn’t get it all done?  Guilt!

I just spent the day doing lots of good things, then end up feeling guilty?  How messed up is that?  Do you feel that way too sometimes?

Life is full, but what are we filling it with?

In an attempt to simplify and gain more peace this is what I discovered.

The secret is to prioritize wisely.  Of all the millions of things we can choose to do with our time, determine what “things” are most crucial and write that down so you’ll remember.

If there is a fairly small list of essential things that get done each day, then the remainder of the activities can be what I choose.  The trick is to figure out what that small list of essentials includes, and to be really thoughtful in prioritizing. We each may have different priorities, but it is really important to narrow in on them, being true to yourself and your family.

Once the priorities are set, and followed, daily activities should flow quicker and easier. Doing things on the list perfectly is not as important as being consistent in making wise choices.

How we spend our time will affect how our lives turn out, but then the most important things, that we set as priorities, should bring peace and joy to life.

As you try to eliminate guilt that comes from competing demands in your life, just remember to choose to be happy, choose what is important, and somewhere in your top priorities, choose to show love to those who are most important to you.  — Laura


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