As I get older, it seems as though the number one obstacle I face is life’s increasing complexity. There is an ever-expanding set of things to keep track of, worry about, and take action to improve.
I worry about getting things right as a parent, as a wife, as a pastor, and as a follower of Jesus. There are always new articles being written about the effects of discipline, rewards, activities, reading, isolation, electronic media, nutrition, bullying, and whatever they publish tomorrow, on a child’s development. I can’t scroll through my news feed without being reminded to encourage my husband by speaking positively, communicate my needs honestly even if it means confrontation, respecting his job, leaning into my own, sharing parenting and household responsibilities, and of course never nagging. As a pastor, I can affirm to you that if there are 20 people in a room there will be 25 different opinions about what I should be doing and how I should set my priorities. As a follower of Jesus, I am being told to stand up for my faith, not be controversial, be honest about my struggles, never doubt, always do the right thing, never judge (except when I should)…
I have to tell you that as an introvert, it makes me want to hide in a cave. I also have the unfortunate struggle of being a people-pleaser, and it makes me feel pulled in 100 different directions. This is when I have to remind myself to go back to the fundamentals.
As a follower of Jesus, my first obligation is to love God. That is primarily what God wants from me, and from each of us. Loving God means that I trust in what he communicates, and believe that the Holy Spirit is with me to guide me into all truth. I can walk in confidence, knowing that while danger exists and difficulties will arise, God will not allow me to wander over a cliff without a warning.
As a pastor, my first job is to love the people under my care. If love guides my biblical study, messages, counseling and prayers, I know I will first do no harm. I will seek to be faithful to give the truth and not my opinions. I will offer grace and healing, reconciliation and peace to all who are seeking.
As a wife, my first priority is to love my husband. If I love him, I will communicate with grace and honesty. I will listen with interest and concern. I will want to help him, I will seek to meet the needs I am capable of meeting. I will trust him look to God to meet the needs I cannot. So much of what I read in “wifely” advice puts all of the burden for a man’s feelings and actions on his wife. It isn’t fair to women, and it doesn’t give much credit to men. I will love and respect my husband, and trust God for the rest.
As a parent, my first responsibility is to love my kids. If I love them, I will feed them (though not always organic), clothe them, and make reasonable efforts to care for their needs. Almost everything else is extra, or at least amendable with therapy years from now.
At some point as a parent, I have to do my best and let the rest go.
I am sure there are those who look at this and say it is not enough. It may not be perfect, but it is doable. It is also just a starting place. In sports training, coaches push the fundamentals, not because they are the only components of the game, rather they are the foundation for everything else.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
Knowing I can return to the basics, letting the rest fall into place,