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I have a confession to make: I’m failing a little.
It’s not because of the world’s impossible standards. It’s not because of what anyone else thinks I should be doing. It’s simple. I am not living out my values.
I have these priorities, these values, these things that mean the world to me and drive everything I do. Or at least, they should. But I find myself like the apostle Paul, and I do the things I don’t want to do and I don’t do the things I want to do…and that tension tells me I’m failing just a little bit.
On paper, it’s easy to say that God is the most important to me. That seeking Him and living out His will is my number one purpose in life. But does the way I spend my time, energy, and money reflect that?
The old adage “actions speak louder than words” applies here.
If my number 1 priority is God, but I can barely carve out time for a 5 minute devotion, that’s a fail. Something needs to give.
If I deeply believe that food has the power to heal, and that eating real, whole foods that God gave us is best…yet I constantly consume processed foods, that’s a fail.
If my goal is to get out of debt, yet I constantly blow extra money on clothes, eating out, or whatever else comes up…that’s a fail.
If I am desperately opposed to modern slavery, yet spend my dollars irresponsibly, that’s a fail.
It’s not a fail because I think everyone should do things a certain way. But as long as there is a distance between our values and our actions, we’ll be unsatisfied. We’ll be constantly fighting that undefined, nagging sense of failure.
Why? Because we are failing.
No, there is no perfect, and I’m not suggesting we should strive for it. But I do think the dichotomy between our values and our actions can add stress and tension to our lives. We may not be able to be perfect, but we can narrow the gap between our ideals and our actions.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” -Mahatma Gandhi
I believe this is a powerful truth. As a Christian, I would add that it should be God’s will we are seeking in order to find true joy and contentment. I don’t think we will see an end to the tension of “failing” until our actions are more in line with our beliefs.
So what can you do about it?
Are you feeling that nagging feeling of failure in your life? Try these steps to break that cycle.
Make a list of 3-5 things that are most important to you. For me this list would include some of the things I talked about in this post. You can add more as you start to get a handle on the top ones, but for now stick to a manageable 3-5 items.
Evaluate. Be honest about how you’re doing in these areas. Maybe you’re doing really well in some of them. Maybe you’re legitimately falling short in some of them.
If you make your list and evaluate and honestly feel that you are doing well at the top areas, feel free to add more of your values onto the list. However, you might also consider reading my mommy guilt post. There are times when we need to improve, but also times when we need to give ourselves some grace.
Improve. For each area that you found lacking, choose one actionable thing to do in order to improve it. Make sure you’r actionable item is attainable and specific.
Some Sample values and actionable steps:
- Prioritize God’s Word–> Commit to a 30 minute quiet time every day. Or commit to read through the Bible in a year.
- Prioritize Time with Family–> Commit to regular work hours and stick to it. Or commit to a specific time devoted to your family–eating dinner together, playing a family game after dinner, etc.
- Prioritize Real Food–> Make one more meal at home. Get rid of processed foods. Meal Plan.
These are just some examples to get you started. Obviously, I don’t know your specific situation. Set goals that will work for your family and motivate you to make small changes that will better your families lives, and help you beat the mommy guilt for good.