Thursday, October 13, 2011

In Which I Make Things Unnecessarily Complicated

I was reading a short while ago a discussion in which a lady was quoting priorities from some How To Manage Everything Book and stated that one's priority list should look like this:

1. God
2. Husband
3. Children
4. House
5. Self
6. Outside (work, volunteer, etc.)
(I may have those last two backwards, I'm not sure.)

I've seen a lot of priority lists run pretty much that way. It makes no sense to me. For one thing, if I were to prioritize by people like that, I'd have to put Me at the head of the list. What good am I to my husband or children (or house) if I don't have enough rest, exercise, proper food, and quiet to be a reasonably sane and functional human? None whatever. (Believe me, I have tried.)

It still sounds dreadfully heathen not to put God at the head, but let's be honest: Does God need anything from me? The Maker of the Universe, the Triune Mystery, is he sitting around lonely if I neglect him? No, spiritual activity is for my benefit, not God's. And honestly, most of what God actually asks from us has to do with loving other people, so see everything else on the list.

I can only assume that the people who write priority lists probably don't really mean it about putting yourself last, or they've never been in a position where you needed to write yourself memoranda to take your shoes off and use the bathroom personally. They probably just mean getting a pedicure or something (ewww).

Everything on the list is subject to that economic law of diminishing returns. Some things for your husband may be more important than some things for your children, but if he can't wait for help finding the remote until the baby has eaten, then he's the one with the mixed up priorities.

Furthermore, everything on the list is mixed up. Do I wash the dishes for the sake of the House, for the sake of the Children and Husband who will need another meal soon, or for the sake of Me, who will start flinging them in the backyard if they sit there any longer? And then there is urgency--my children's math lesson probably shouldn't take precedence over someone starving at the door. But then there is frequency--if that happens every day, the math is going to be sorely neglected and I should find some other way to feed the hungry.

If I really, really had to make up a priority list, it would be something more like this:

1. Make sure everyone I'm responsible for has what they need to survive.
2. Tend to everything else in rotating order, or in whatever way seems to make most sense at the moment.

If I were a nicer person, I would put something like, "nurture emotional and spiritual relationships" in the middle. But I'm not.


Rachelle said...

Much good here....Little lists like this are so good at boxing in God. Because who benefits when I obey Him? Worship Him? Me or Him?

And really? House before ANYONE? Isn't that a little materialistic? And I know, the thought was "keeping the house" but still....REALLY? If I'm on my deathbed am I supposed to get up and clean the house before I seek treatment for myself?

I do recognize the value of being reminded from time to time that one's husband should be a priority over children. I think everyone benefits in allowing for different priorities in different moments though.

Too tired to say more. Must clean the house before I sleep. HA!

Wendy said...

I couldn't believe the house came before self! Really!?!

I do think God comes first because He's the prime motivation for everything else. I take care of myself so that I can be who God created me to be.

That being said, if that priority list gets turned into a "do things in this order" list, you're in real trouble. Yes, your marriage is a higher priority than the kids, but your husband probably doesn't need his diaper changed...

I think your "Me at the top of the list" is correct in terms of "do things in this order," but, from what you said about doing it to take care of others, it's clear that they are a higher priority to you.