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If you were to ask women what their No. 1 health concern is, what would you expect them to say? Perhaps breast cancer, heart disease or maybe even excess weight come to mind. Yet in a study by the Women's Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, women said something completely different: We're all too tired.
Time has now surpassed money as our most precious commodity. A poll by the Independent Women's Forum found that 55 percent of women would accept a pay cut or lower seniority, if it were offered, if it also meant more time at home. Yet even those who don't have paid work still feel overwhelmed. Our to-do lists keep growing, and the time to spend on the relationships we value so much keeps shrinking.
However, if we aren't nurturing our relationships--with God, husbands, kids, other family members and friends--we're not going to feel peace. God made us for relationship; that's how we rejuvenate.
In today's fast-paced, technologically driven society, though, making time for people, let alone God, is difficult. Yet ultimately God will not ask us how many faxes we sent, how many floors we mopped or how many loads of laundry we did. He will ask whom we reached for Him. So let's look at how we can redeem our time to focus on Jesus' priorities.
Banish the Bad
When we're tired and run down and feeling out of whack, we often do the exact opposite of what will actually rejuvenate our souls. We turn to time-wasters.
For most Americans, the top time-waster is television. According to Nielsen Media Research, we watch, on average, 24 hours of television a week, which adds up to four days a month. Television not only robs us of time; it also is one of the strongest indicators of obesity, with all the health problems that typically accompany this condition.
And that's not all we have to worry about. Watching television jeopardizes our emotional health, too. I clearly remember the Thursday night I decided to switch off the television for good. I was dragging myself to bed, depressed yet again, when I realized that this depression was a pattern--one that was directly traced to the human misery I watched weekly on the program ER. I tuned out, and my mood improved dramatically.
Television is not the only thing that can pollute our minds or steal our time. What about the other screen in your house? Stanford Professor Norman Nie, after conducting a widespread study of Internet usage, concluded that "the more hours people use the Internet, the less time they spend with real human beings."
Maybe you have a different weakness, such as an obsession with the romance novels some women buy by the millions. If we're honest with ourselves, these things are usually just escapes. Because they insulate us from real relationships--our greatest need--they tend to make us feel worse. Reduce these time-wasters, and you'll suddenly find yourself with more hours in the day to rejuvenate your soul in a way that actually works!
Minimize the "Merely Good"
In Hebrews 12:1-3, we're told to treat our lives as if we're running a race, looking to Jesus at the finish line. In order to get to Him, we have to throw off two things: the weights and the sin that burden us.
Do you see the distinction? Many things that are holding us back from Jesus are not in and of themselves sin; they may not even be bad. To paraphrase Voltaire, "The enemy of the best is the good."
By shifting our perspectives, we can find ways to redeem more time for spiritual growth. Here are a few suggestions:
Refocus everyday tasks. Sometimes we just need to ask, "Why do we do it?" For example, why do we clean? Ideally, it's to create comfortable homes that can be places of ministry--homes where children can bring their friends, where neighbors can drop in, where we can foster that community so lacking in today's society. For this, we don't need perfection (a perfect house is intimidating, not comfortable); we just need a certain amount of order.
But we also need flexibility. In Luke 10:38-42, Mary has the flexibility to see when to leave her usual responsibilities to take advantage of a priceless opportunity to learn from Jesus. Similarly, we need to be able to give up cleaning for a time if God gives us something more important, even if it's just listening to a friend who needs to talk.
Get organized. We can also make more time for these relationship-building opportunities by freeing up time we would otherwise spend on everyday tasks. Do housework and errands faster, and suddenly you have more hours in the day. There are lots of ways to get organized:
Declutter. The more stuff we have, the more we have to tidy and clean. Try tossing all those sixth-grade trophies, knickknacks you don't like anyway, and the clothes that make you feel ugly. Now tidying's easier, and your house doesn't hold things that make you shudder.
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