Keeping Up – Balancing Material Wants versus Spiritual Needs

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The neighbors bought a new car, installed a new pool, got a promotion, a new job… Our friend’s child earned higher grades, got a better scholarship to college.  Sometimes it is as simple as looking at someone else’s life and thinking that they have it “easy” – less debt, more opportunities to succeed.  It’s easy to lose sight that we are on a different path than they are.  It’s easy to forget that we don’t know what happens in the privacy of their home or in their mind or heart.  It’s also easy to forget that we are not called to be in this world, keeping up with the Jones’.

I feel like I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I don’t personally compare myself or what I have to those around me.  However, I am getting caught up in whether or not my children have the same opportunities or material things that other kids have.  The thing is, the kids don’t seem to care.  Oh certainly there are some things they want to have because others have them.  They usually understand though when we explain that we have something else in mind or that we simply can’t afford X, Y or Z.  

We still struggle with finding that balance between want and need. I recently read that life isn’t about finding the balance because it is a constantly changing landscape.  It is striving to the ever-changing circumstances and adjusting to maintain.  

As school winds down for the year, I am usually more eager for the summer vacation than my children are.  The break from homework and routine is welcomed by everyone. This year especially I was looking forward to school ending.  Sleeping in a little (I use this phrase loosely), not worrying about deadlines for a few months, more hands to help with the baby and toddler, time to just be…

A week into summer and we are floundering a little.  Ok, the kids are doing fine.  I am floundering a little.  Adjusting to having everyone home but not necessary available at the same time.  Practice schedules and games are still factors.  Things aren’t falling into place like I had imagined they would.

Be patient I’ve been told.  We’re still adjusting to having a newborn in the house again.  Everyone is just getting used to being home together and having different responsibilities.  

I came into the summer with high expectations and many plans.  I made a list.  I have projects I want to finish, and in my mind the kids would love to help.  But I also want them to have free time, time to just be kids, unstructured and young.  The two things seem to conflict each other more than I thought they would.  It also could be that we are one week into the summer, and I would love these projects to be finished.  Some of these projects have been around for years!  Perhaps my timeline is a little off?

Then come the flyers and emails for camps.  The kids like to do the local sports camps.  The sport changes for each one.  But then we are back to trying to keep up…  This friend is also doing that camp or an overnight camp or…  the list continues.  Where do we draw the line?  

Again they do understand the limits, but oh the guilt…  Are we hurting them if they aren’t able to do the same things as their friends?  Logically, I know the answer is no.  Emotionally, it hurts though to see them left out, even if it is by our choice.  

The balance between routine and free-for-all and between keeping up and keeping sane seems to be very similar.  Neither is a goal to be attained.  They both change with the changing seasons of life.  

No project or routine or free-for-all time is going to work if we don’t have God’s plan in mind first.  Discerning His plan for our day, each day, is the best way to start the day.  When Jesus saw a crowd, He went up the mountain first to pray.  Then, He began teaching.  He only began after He sought contact and grounding with the Father.  As much as we’ve been floundering, perhaps it is because we haven’t been seeking God first.  

Keeping up with others also is much less important than keeping up with God and His plan for us.  We need to seek God’s plan first.  Only then can we find peace and stop floundering.
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.” Matthew 5:1

Keeping Up

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