I think many of us know all too well what it is like to be over-committed. The most common thing I hear people say is — “I’m so busy”. When you throw children into the mix — and we are all busy — then that ends up with a mother running around doing an awful lot for everyone, week after week. Something that I have been thinking a lot about is how to rationalise all of our commitments. What to drop, what to keep and how to manage that process. This involves balancing what you enjoy doing, what is meaningful, what you have a choice about right now, and what can be handed over to someone else.
Life’s priorities change over time. In the middle of it all, we want to keep faith at the centre, and not let that drop off our list. It is all too easy to put our priorities in the wrong place. We tend to prioritise what is right in front of us, things we can see and touch. We often can’t see or feel the benefits of Mass and prayer; not immediately, most of the time. These things can easily slip down in our list of things to do.
Recently, I have thought that the people whom I know who don’t have a faith or go to church seem to be doing better than those I know who are faithful. But then I realise I am judging against worldly standards — with perceived success involving job status.
Different people have different thresholds for feeling stretched or over-committed. Some people like to focus their attention in one direction, while others enjoy having a variety and multiple balls to juggle, as long as it remains manageable. My oldest has always had varied interests and does quite a few extra-curricular activities, my second less so, and my third very little. They each have their own ideas about what they want to do, and the balance seems to work for them. The issue comes up for me because I need not only to balance my commitments, but also those of five other people. In this sense, I often feel like Martha — busy and missing some of the fun, the simplicity, the joy that life has to offer.
I’ve been trying to seriously re-evaluate commitments and to cut down some. One has been successfully ceased, and one is in line to be ceased, and further adjustments will need to be made.
It is getting harder these days to find people willing to give up and volunteer their time for clubs and sports teams, and all the various bits and pieces that need doing, working bees and so on. Our country and society depends heavily on volunteer work. There would be so many gaps, and a loss of so much richness in our culture, if our volunteer force dries up.
One thing I am conscious of doing is trying to enjoy my children. This involves trying to spend more fun time with them, and making sure we keep our faith at the forefront. I have purchased a few resources to help us with that, now that they are at State schools. I am hoping that freeing up my time from some other commitments will help us re-focus on faith in the family too.
Luke 10: 38-42; As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed — or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Helen Luxford is a physician, working part-time. She is a parishioner of St Michael’s, Remuera. Together with her husband Michael, they are raising their children in the Catholic Faith and reflecting on the challenges and joys that brings.