"Juggling our Priorities"
By Melissa K. Tsongranis
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:33-34
We all have much to do in our family life—especially as with September quickly approaching. School, sports, work, and other activities turn our day-to-day life into a juggling marathon where there are so many objects in the air, one is bound to drop. Unfortunately, the one that is often dropped is the most important one of all—our commitment to Christ. You see, when things get really busy, we tend to forget about Him. We tell ourselves that we have too much going on and set our spiritual life aside thinking we can pick it up once we have a grip on other matters. We may go to Church less, pray less, and read the Bible less—telling ourselves as soon as we finish, we will get back into the swing of our spiritual life. But unfortunately, once we set Christ aside, things get busier and we lose perspective on what is truly important in our lives.
But let’s ask ourselves this: what do we really consider important in our lives? The world presents us with much that it sees as important (money, power, work, prestige, etc.). It make all these things look very attractive. Keep in mind; these things are not necessarily bad unless they take the place of what should be our highest priority—living a Christ-centered life. We must remember that this world and everything in it is temporary. Our days are numbered; the amount of time we spend in this life can not even compare to the eternity of the kingdom to come. We will all pass from this world and when we do, it will not matter what educational degrees we had, what material possessions we owned, or if we kept up with the Joneses. What will matter is if we worked to live a Christ-centered life and raise our families accordingly.
So, how are we doing with our family’s priorities? Let’s take a quick inventory:
- Do we find our families skipping church for work, sports, or just because we had a rough week?
- Do we find our family beginning and ending each day without so much as thanking God for His many blessings through prayer?
- Does our family Bible have dust on it?
- Do we forget or are we too embarrassed to say a brief prayer before meals?
If we answered yes to any of these, it is time to shift our focus. For the next month, let’s commit as a family to work really hard to put God first in our lives at every minute of the day. When we wake in the morning, praise Him with our voice and when we go to sleep at night seek forgiveness for daily transgressions. But let’s not stop there—throughout the day, work to keep Him in our thoughts. When something difficult happens or we are about to start something new, say a silent prayer asking Him to guide us. Read the scripture daily (daily readings can be found at www.goarch.org), participate in the sacraments, and go to Church regularly. Meet with our parish priest or spiritual father for guidance. Each day at dinner check-in with our family members and discuss how we all worked to keep Christ at the center of our day. As we do these things, we will notice something remarkable—our lives will start to come into focus. We will realize that things that seemed critical aren’t so critical. We will begin to realize that what is most important to our family is not in this life—but in the life to come.
Now, of course, the hope here is that we will not only do this for the month but continue from this day forth. I don’t want to mislead you—living a Christ-centered life is a struggle, one that we must commit to each and every day. The evil one will try to distract us with things of this world, but remember—these things are temporary. We must make sure our families talk with a priest to guide us in this struggle. He can help us notice when our priorities are slipping (and they will) and he will help us get back on track.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus preached to the people telling them how to live a godly life. Regarding our worldly cares He said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (6:33) When we seek the kingdom of God first, all the objects that we juggle seem to have their proper place. Christ Himself is no longer set aside but He Himself is helping us balance the other objects in our lives. I pray that we all can find an inexhaustible source of strength for our families and our lives through living a life in Christ.
Melissa Tsongranis works as the Associate Director for the Center for Family Care of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.