This is a guest post by my friend, Sharla Fritz. Be sure to grab your copy of your free lesson in achieving a more focused life here.
Last year started out with grim news.
My husband was diagnosed with lymphoma.
It was a shock for this guy who never takes a sick day. He never had any symptoms. He didn’t feel ill.
Soon all of our to-do lists were relegated to the garbage can. Instead of our usual work and social activities, our schedules were crammed with doctor visits, tests, and treatments. Our over-packed lives had to make room for more important things. I personally needed to weed out the frivolous to find time for what was necessary—being available for my husband.
Thankfully, after six-months of chemotherapy, I can say my husband is doing fine. The treatments worked and he is now in remission.
But that experience demonstrated that I needed to be more purposeful with my time. Before the crisis I would read Ephesians 5:15-16—
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
—and interpret “making the best use of the time” as packing as much as possible into each hour. I filled my calendar like I was stuffing clothes for a three-week vacation into a carry-on bag. My to-do list was as long as a grocery list for hosting a party for one hundred of my closest friends.
But my husband’s health crisis forced me to see that I needed a shorter to-do list and a longer “not-to-do” list. God showed me that making the most of my time didn’t necessarily mean stuffing more into my day, but eliminating distracting activities to focus on what is truly important.
So I resigned from a leadership position, gracefully left a club, and said no to a weekly study group. I concentrated on the work I needed to do and to helping my husband recover.
Now that my husband is in remission, I am trying not to go back to my usual mode of operation. I am trying to live my life focusing on the essential instead of dividing my attention between a million distracting activities.
I encourage you to do the same. Life is short and we want to use it well. There are many good things that we can do with our time, but we want to choose the best.
To do this I suggest making a list of all the things you do. Write down everything on your schedule.
Then discern what is best by asking yourself two questions:
- Do I need this activity? Discover what is essential and what can be crossed off the schedule. Consider: Is it something I have to do? (Yes, you need to feed the kids.) Is it something God is asking me to do? (Or have I taken a job that was meant for someone else?)
- Why am I doing this? Discovering your motives may make it easier to find what is non-essential in your schedule. Reflect: Am I doing this to keep up with my friends? Is this pursuit simply an ego boost?
After you have examined each activity, compile a NOT-To-Do List—an inventory of the things that you now see are unnecessary or the endeavors God is asking you not to pursue right now. By eliminating the items on your NOT-To-Do List you will achieve a greater probability of successfully completing the items on your TO-do list.
Find focus. Find peace. Ask God to help you make the most of your time by deleting the trivial and keeping the essential.
I asked my friend, Sharla Fritz, to share this guest post with my readers in honor of her new book that will be such a blessing to young women. I’m pleased to say I am giving away a copy. Be sure to enter before you go.
“Hey Mom, can I buy this mascara?”
“Can I get this lip gloss? I’ll use my own money. Pleeeease?”
“Will you ever let me wear makeup?
When I was thirteen, these were the questions I pestered my mother with constantly. After reading teen magazines, I was convinced that makeup was what I needed to be beautiful. Just a little mascara, a bit of blush, and a dab of lip gloss and I would be able to look like the models on the glossy pages I read over and over. A few cosmetics were all I needed to make everyone at school like me—to make me like me.
Plenty of Products
Judging by the thousands of beauty products available, I’m not the only one who has ever had those thoughts. During a quick trip to the drug store today, I stopped to browse in the makeup aisle. I was astounded by the number of mascaras available for sale. Under the Maybelline sign alone I counted twelve different colorful tubes of the stuff. Almay had five. Cover Girl had thirteen. In all, I found 73 unique products guaranteed to enhance my eyelashes!
That doesn’t even take into account all of the other items offered in the cosmetic aisle. We can buy products to make our cheeks appear rosier, our eyebrows darker, and our lips shinier. Thousands of choices are available to buff up our appearance—our physical beauty.
But even when I looked up and down all the aisles of the store, I couldn’t find any products to help me enhance my inner beauty. I didn’t see any gels or lotions to help me develop a beautiful heart.
True Beauty is Inside
Which is sad, because that’s the kind of beauty God wants us to have.
In the book of 1 Peter, He tells us:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV 1984)
Now I don’t think that Peter was telling these women that it was wrong to fix their hair or wear cute clothes. He isn’t saying we shouldn’t wear makeup or put on a necklace. I think he was telling them, telling us, that the latest hairstyle or the trendiest wardrobe isn’t what makes a girl lovely. True beauty comes from inside.
God tells us that instead of 73 tubes of mascara, instead of hundreds of cosmetics, there is only one thing we need to be truly beautiful: a gentle and quiet spirit.
What Does a Gentle and Quiet Spirit Look Like?
You’ll be relieved to know that a gentle spirit doesn’t mean being a timid, pathetic person. A quiet spirit doesn’t mean we have to sit in a corner all day never talking to our friends.
The word used for gentle in 1 Peter 3 means having a graceful soul. If we could buy a jar of cream that could give a gentle spirit, it would enable us to accept what God is doing in our lives. It would help us to trust that God knows what He is doing, even when we can’t make any sense out of it at all.
The word quiet in this passage describes a peaceful heart that is not upset by chaotic circumstances. A bottle of this kind of quiet gives a tranquility that isn’t dependent on having a perfect day. It’s like the one person who manages to remain calm and clean during a cafeteria food fight.
Although there aren’t any products available in the cosmetics aisle to give us a gentle and quiet heart we don’t have to lose hope. God is more than willing to give us the grace we need to be able to hold His hand in trust when we start to question what’s happening in our lives. He gives us His Spirit to quiet down our chaotic hearts.
I think our heavenly Father seriously wonders why we expect bottles of liquids and tubes of gels to give us worth and beauty. Because He has already done that.
God has made us beautiful.
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