I don't know what it is about these past few weeks, but I have been feeling like I just can't get everything done I need or want to. And I've heard the same thing from friends and other blog writers. More than once the analogy has come up about the pickle jar:
You have a pile of sand and a pile of large rocks. If you put the sand in the jar first (the less important things of life) you don't have room for the rocks (the more important things). But if you put the rocks in first, the sand will then fall in the crevices and everything fits in the jar.
My problem is that I can't seem to even get all my rocks in the jar. James and I have been wearing everything we own before I manage to get our laundry done. The boys' clothes and the kitchen linens always take priority, and there just isn't time for that many loads! I try to get to all the different cleaning tasks just once a week, and yet I can't even fit all of them in. Benjamin is in a strange stage where he takes forever to fall asleep, which is zapping up two or three hours a day. I would love to have personal devotional time, scripture study and prayer time, but I haven't been able to read anything these past couple of weeks. Once I cook meals and see to the kids, there just doesn't seem to be any time left. I'm am literally only getting the basic survival stuff done right now.
Then yesterday I had a great scripture pop into my mind. I was actually teaching a visiting teaching message about the importance of finding spiritual time to pray, read scripture and attend the temple. While talking, I was feeling my own little twinge of guilt, knowing that I wasn't getting much of that done myself. As I looked into the weary eyes of the woman I was teaching, I saw a reflection of my own stress and busyness. I made sure to assure her of my own failings in these areas. The last thing I wanted to do was sit there and make it sound like I had it all together. Too often we as women are reluctant to share our struggles with each other. I think we all would manage a lot easier if we could relax the facade of perfection we feel necessary to present and share in our imperfections and burdens. I'm not perfect in that area either, but I'm trying.
So there I was, talking about how as this busy holiday season approaches that it will be important to carve out some time for God, and this scripture popped into my head:
"But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. " (Alma 32:27)
I highlighted the word "desire" there, because it was that part of the scripture that spoke to me. When I get busy, I usually let those important spiritual moments go. I tell myself I'll pick it up again when I've got more time. But the spirit spoke to me, reminding me of this scripture, and teaching this simple idea: if I can just desire to believe (or read my scriptures, or attend the temple, or pray, or whatever it is I can't find time to do), if I just desire to do these things, then God will help me find a way to get it done.
Really? He will? You bet! What's important to remember is that he wants to bless us. He wants us to draw closer to him so that we can have more joy in our lives. He will give us all the help we need, if we truly have the desire to draw nearer to him.
So it may be the kids magically all fall asleep for nap at the same time (wouldn't you love that one!) and you feel an energy boost that enables you to read rather than nap also. Or maybe your evening plans are suddenly canceled, your kids are invited over somewhere to play and your friend calls saying that she's going to the temple and would you like a ride right now. Or maybe you run out of milk and have to make an emergency run, and you find yourself alone in the car with 5 minutes to talk with God.
I can testify that if you have that desire, something will work out. Here's my own example: scripture study just hasn't been happening for me. Yes, I read a lot, but it's generally at night, to help me fall asleep. Reading my scriptures when I'm that drowsy just didn't seem like it would be doing much, except perhaps help me fall asleep even faster. And now Benjamin is taking forever to get to sleep, needing to be held/rocked in the darkness of his room. I was spending anywhere from 30 - 60 minutes in the dark, every time I needed to get him to sleep.
I had a specific desire to read through the Book of Mormon completely, and to finish it just before Christmas, in preparation for the Christmas season. When I worked it out, that meant about 9 pages a day. Impractical! I thought. Unattainable! I couldn't find time for a handful of verses, let alone 9 pages. But I had this feeling that it was something I should do. Honestly, I didn't have any idea how I was actually going to get it done.
Then one day the thought jumped in my mind - "I should download the scriptures onto my mp3 player and listen while I'm rocking him." So I dug out the dusty player, downloaded the scriptures, hooked the player onto my belt loop, threaded my earphones down the back of my shirt (so Benjamin wouldn't pull on them) and hit play. Would you believe that I can usually get through the equivalent of at least 9 pages every day this way?
And here's an added benefit: I am no longer so frustrated with Benjamin's sleep habits. If he went to sleep right away, I'm sure I would find more cleaning or tidying or something to fill the time with. But now, forced to spend a half our or an hour sitting in his room in the dark, my mind is filled with the Word of God while I cuddle with my baby who is growing up fast every day. What a blessing it has become! I find that many evenings I sit in that chair past the moment when Benjamin falls asleep, cuddling him in my arms and listening to "just one more chapter."
So this is an encouragement to moms of young kids, moms of older kids (because it doesn't seem to get any less busy!) and women in general (because busyness really does seem to be a woman thing!). What is it that you really need in your life? What have you been inspired to do? What has the Holy Spirit whispered to you? Toss the guilt of not being able to do it and fill your heart with desire. Heavenly Father, who has all things in His power and control, will orchestrate life so that you will find time and opportunity to get all those big rocks into the pickle jar, and most of that sand, too!