Friday, January 7, 2011

Competition and Priorities

Jon and I started a new workout program on Monday, and yes, we’re still doing it. (You can pick your jaw up off the floor now… we’ll see how long it lasts.)

There have been many times that I have wanted to try this workout, or this diet, and usually, it starts with a friend. Someone suggests we do something together, and we go for it.

And I fail, EVERY TIME.

See, here is the paradox, if you will. I am competitive, but not with women. I HATE competing with women for anything. I hate one-on-one women’s sports, I hate “Biggest Loser” women groups, I hate job interviews when other women are there. Maybe I’m intimidated, maybe I think women take things too personally (ahem), I just think it is silly to compete with friends, so I just choose not to.

I like to compete against men, feelings don’t get hurt, it doesn’t get personal, and who cares! I will wrestle any man, and gladly lose. I will diet with a group of guys (and even let them know my weight because really… they don’t care anyway) and be blown out of the water. I will show any man up on an interview (hehe).

I don’t like playing whose what is better or try to convince everyone that my ____ is the best. But if someone challenges something that I am very passionate about, I will certainly defend my position whether it be a male or female, (or my brother)- and it is okay if we don’t agree. I like how my friend Liz said it, “We can just choose not to talk about that stuff since us two are passionate this way, and you two are passionate that way.” Nice friend, nice.

In the bible study I am doing right now with other mothers we are talking about parenting (shocking). We have discussed what we need to give our kids- things like a secure love, a strong hope, a significant purpose, the freedom to be different, and on and on. THIS, my friends, is something I am passionate about, THIS is something that I believe in- 'raising our children the way that God raises us.' This is a priority, for our family.

Which got me to thinking… Priorities. I remember in high school we had an activity where we had to list out where we wanted to be in 10 years- sort of a priority list for a 16 year old. You know, married, a good job, a nice home, a few kids, an education, etc. And then I thought- how do we make these priorities happen?

Priorities can screw up just about anything can't they? They ruin friendships, they can break up couples, and they can be the demise of a family. (No, this is not a law, this is my idea… but I don’t feel like saying I think… before every phrase, just saying.) You know, if one friend prioritizes another friend, poof, first friend is gone. Or if a boyfriend prioritizes sleep over growing in faith, one woman may walk away. What if mom's priorities are to make money and have a big house, and dad's are to spend time with the family and play over working- will either get what they want- probably not, and someone will walk away.

All of these systems can easily break down when people have different priorities: activities, people, family, religion, clubs, work, hobbies. What order we put these into can make a huge difference in our lives.

Jon and I spoke a lot before we got married about what was more important to us, if you will. What a journey we have been on these past almost 6 years, but our priorities have stayed constant.

We never had the dream of a castle, or fancy cars, or lots of money. It really just is not in our character. We had big dreams to us, a large family, a comfortable home with just enough space, and jobs that we loved, regardless of what they were. That means that we live differently, and a lot of the time, we just don’t fit in, and that is hard sometimes- but we know that the choices that we are making, are glorifying to God. (AND- in no way am I saying that when people live in castles, or have fancy cars, or lots of money are they NOT glorifying God- we just don't do it that way.)

I’m thinking tonight about what Jon and I do prioritize, and I think it goes something like this, but not perfectly. Family comes first- and this can be really hard. A lot of the time, it means not going out like we’d like (well, really we DO like being home!), because our family needs to be home for bedtime, and our family needs to make money the way that we can and that means that mom has to work at night sometimes, and dad has to take care of Brooke. We prioritize faith- church, studying the bible, loving on others, praying. Time together- oh my heart swells from this. It may seem crazy, but I go mad every day that Jon is away at work, I love the man with all of my being and my heart yearns for him when he is gone- when he is home sometimes we just sit together and do nothing, and I hope our family will spend a lot of time “doing nothing.” My being a stay-at-home mom has been another huge priority for us- a majorly sacrificial priority. We made choices in our early life together of saving with specific goals in mind, and we were able to meet those. And then, instead of jumping, we waited for things, and we have certainly reaped the benefits of that- but we easily could have not. We chose a modest home, in a modest neighborhood, with what we wanted: within 15 minutes of family, 3 bedrooms, room to expand, good schools, a basement- and NO, we were not willing to sacrifice any of these things because of the “IFs” in life. What IF the market crashes and we simply CANNOT get out? (Yes, we thought this before the major crisis that is our world today- we have some wise family members who have ALWAYS made us think like this.) What IF we have a horrible medical emergency that makes us really poor? What IF Jon loses his job? What IF, what IF, what IF… I could go on and on. I would love to have a 4 bedroom home, with millions of square feet (and a cleaning lady to come with it), but with the priorities that we have, we just don’t HAVE what it takes to have that. Does that make sense?

We don't have the money to have the priority of a BIG house, that is close to family and friends, with room to expand, and good schools. We can have a modest house with all of our non-negotiables.

My being a stay-at-home mom is another priority we had before we knew if we'd be able to have kids, before we knew where we'd live, and before we knew how much money we'd be making. If we had to live in a one bedroom apartment to make that happen, we gladly would have. It is just more important to our family than having a big house, or a nice car. Having our kids in a GOOD school district, not just an okay one, is more important to us than living in that dream home. Living near family is far more important than driving a beautiful new SUV. And so that means we have to make choices- with what we can afford! We could have bought a beautiful home- in KENTUCKY… or even Boofoo, Illinois, which maybe isn’t that far to some families. But, it is not close enough for us.

I’m not saying that you should change your priorities or that if you choose to live in Boofoo that you are wrong, please don’t think that.-- I’m just talking to myself here about my family- and considering my husband doesn’t really read this often… and Brooke can’t work a computer… I don’t expect anyone else to agree with me. (And yes, living close to friends is a priority of ours too, but it doesn’t seem many are rooted yet in where they are going to be… so we’re planted, like REALLY planted… where will you be friends?! :) )

How on earth did I get from working out to my families desires for our life? Simple- Jon and I are working out together, not with anyone else competing(women! Hehe)… ya… I dunno either! :) But- if we’re always competing with others about what we have and who we are becoming, I think that it becomes the whose _________ is better.

And clearly, our plans are best. :) Just kidding!

I’m wondering, what are your priorities? What drives your family? What are you willing to sacrifice, and what isn’t worth it? Who are your priorities made for? How do you plan to get there?

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