I was sitting at the make-shift beach that borders one of the springs close to what Life360 affectionately refers to as “Home 2,” or my folks’ snowbird house.
It was cold for me–you know, hovering right around 70 which is my bare minimum for all outdoorsy things that involve wind or water like riding motorcycles or (possibly) swimming.
Now, if you know anything about spring water, you know it stays at a constant 72 degrees. What that means is that there are crazy people out there (half my family included) who seem to think swimming in the springs during the winter months is an acceptable family activity. Consequently, on this frigid day, we headed to the springs, beach gear in tow.
Quickly, I wrapped up in towels and was thanking God for the long sleeves I had on.
While I was trying to find the sun behind all the clouds, my insane family members immersed themselves in the bitterly cold water on the hunt for fish, manatees, and any lost tourists.
They weren’t the only ones to brave the arctic waters.
Every child under the age of 12 barreled into that water like it was a freakin’ hot tub. Are they immune to the cold? I don’t get it.
Anyway, while I sat bundled up, I couldn’t help but notice the sheer energy these kids all seemed to possess! They ran around like maniacs, splashed through the water, jumped in and out countless times, and never seemed to run out of their stores of energy–much to the dismay of their parents.
I don’t ever remember having that energy! In fact, I’m pretty confident I don’t even have the same amount of energy today as I did five years ago!
Who’s with me?
Finite Amounts of Energy
One thing I’ve realized over the last few years is that I have a finite amount of energy every day. Don’t get me wrong, some days I have more energy than others, and some days I can get an artificial boost from a cup of coffee or a super-healthy energy drink, but for the most part, the amount of energy I have to expend every day stays pretty similar.
Knowing that I only have a finite amount of energy for each day, I started thinking about what I was spending that energy on. During my worst times, it looked something like this:
6:30-7:45–Fix coffee, eat breakfast, drink coffee, watch morning TV, scroll through social media
7:45-8:00–Make myself presentable enough
3:00-4:00–Get a workout in
4:00-4:30–Shower and make myself somewhat presentable
4:30-5:30–Make dinner, talk to Kate about her day while making dinner
6:30-7:30ish–Keep house presentable, laundry done, etc…, hopefully, communicate with the family OR meet other commitments like small group, book club, etc
8:00-9:30–Watch some tv with the family, maybe read a few pages of a book
9:30–Sleep (because I’m a baby)
I don’t know what your day looks like, but when I stopped to really think about how I was using my time during my days, I realized I was rarely spending any time with God, the amount of quality time I was spending with my family and friends was minimal, and the amount of time I was taking for myself to do the things I love and need in life was non-existent.
In fact, the majority of my time was spent working–whether at my actual job or around my house!
Aligning Priorities and Energy:
We hear a ton about priorities.
I imagine if I were to ask you what your priorities were, these three items would be somewhere near the top of your list:
I can say that because my gut reaction was the same. No judgment.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that was a Sunday School answer for me. Do you know what a Sunday School answer is? It’s when you answer a question the way you think you should answer it instead of honestly answering it. For example, if we were in Sunday School, and I showed you a picture of a squirrel and asked what was in the picture, you would answer “Jesus!” because it’s Sunday School and that’s what you thought you were supposed to say.
Anyway, I think most of us would answer the question of what our priorities are with at least God and family. That’s great! Because those things are important!
Let me ask you this, though.
Does how you’re spending your time and energy support those things as your priorities?
How I was spending my time and energy definitely did not support my priorities.
This is where things get tricky for me, and it’s where identifying your priorities really comes into play. See, I can’t stand for my house to be dirty–a little messy here and there is acceptable, but I can’t deal with things like crap all over the house and dishes in my sink. Clearly, what I thought my priorities were was vastly different than the reality of what I was prioritizing
If you find yourself in this same place, where you are thinking about your energy and your priorities, and you are struggling right now because you are expending so much energy on things you don’t see as priorities, let me offer you some encouragement and some practical strategies that will hopefully help.
Identifying your Priorities:
Take a few days to think and pray for God to truly give you insight into what your priorities are and what things are important to you
If you struggle with these types of prayers, take a few minutes and read through some of David’s psalms. So many of his psalms are gut-wrenchingly honest pleading with God. Psalm 139 is one of those psalms, and if you are struggling with your own prayer today, maybe this is a prayer you can use:
You Know All About Me
For the Pure and Shining One
King David’s poetic song
1 Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
2 You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
3-4 You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
You read my heart like an open book
and you know all the words I’m about to speak
before I even start a sentence!
You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.
5 You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way,
and in kindness you follow behind me
to spare me from the harm of my past.
You have laid your hand on me!
6 This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible!
Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.
7 Where could I go from your Spirit?
Where could I run and hide from your face?
8 If I go up to heaven, you’re there!
If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too!
9 If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there!
If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting!
10 Wherever I go, your hand will guide me;
your strength will empower me.
11 It’s impossible to disappear from you
or to ask the darkness to hide me,
for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.
12 There is no such thing as darkness with you.
The night, to you, is as bright as the day;
there’s no difference between the two.
13 You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside
and my intricate outside,
and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.
14 I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex!
Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking.
It simply amazes me to think about it!
How thoroughly you know me, Lord!
15 You even formed every bone in my body
when you created me in the secret place;
carefully, skillfully you shaped me from nothing to something.
16 You saw who you created me to be before I became me!
Before I’d ever seen the light of day,
the number of days you planned for me
were already recorded in your book.
17-18 Every single moment you are thinking of me!
How precious and wonderful to consider
that you cherish me constantly in your every thought!
O God, your desires toward me are more
than the grains of sand on every shore!
When I awake each morning, you’re still with me.
19 O God, come and slay these bloodthirsty, murderous men!
For I cry out, “Depart from me, you wicked ones!”
20 See how they blaspheme your sacred name
and lift up themselves against you, but all in vain!
21 Lord, can’t you see how I despise those who despise you?
For I grieve when I see them rise up against you.
22 I have nothing but complete hatred and disgust for them.
Your enemies shall be my enemies!
23 God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart.
Examine me through and through;
find out everything that may be hidden within me.
Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.
24 See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,
and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting way—
the path that brings me back to you.Psalm 139 (TPT)
This is such a powerful prayer! The same truth that was there when David prayed it is still there today. God knows you intimately and cares for you in all your complexities. He is always thinking of us, he cherishes us, and he wants to heal our pain. God does not want us to live miserably! I have complete confidence that if you ask him to help you see your true priorities, he will do just that, and even more than that, he will help you live authentically in your priorities!
Focusing your Energy
Now that you’ve prayerfully identified what your priorities are, think about what that means in terms of the ways you use your energy.
For example, if I say family is my priority, then what are the ways I can use my time and energy for and with my family? Maybe that looks like:
- family movie nights
- game nights
- dinner around the table a few times a week.
Or maybe, God is your priority. What energy are you spending building your relationship or serving God daily? That might look like:
- 30 minutes of prayer, devo, and journal time in the morning
- Leading a small group once a week
- Reading theology/spirituality books a couple times a week
- Committing to a church
After you’ve really analyzed your priorities and the time and energy you want to focus on those activities, comes the really tough part–actually looking back at how you are currently spending your energy and making adjustments.
For me, that meant some minor changes that had major impacts:
- I swapped out my mindless morning news time for my devo, journal, and prayer time.
- I moved my afternoon workout to the morning–giving me time for reading and self-care in the afternoon.
- I enlisted the help of my family for meal prep, house-tidying, and clean up.
These three seemingly simple changes had a giant impact on my spiritual health, my attitude, my balance, and my peace.
I know change isn’t easy, boundaries aren’t easy. Even though it isn’t easy, it’s so necessary. I pray you begin to see your priorities clearly this week and God gives you the strength and courage to make the necessary changes so that you can focus your energy on your priorities.
If all else fails, pray Psalm 139 again and again! God is faithful.
If you need help with this process, I have a free printable just for you that will walk you through this step by step!
- What are the major things I currently focus my energy on?
- What areas would I like to commit more energy to?
- What areas would I like to commit less energy to?
Need a little help with this? Download my free printable to help you navigate this!
Great post, Kristen. Though I make God a priority to begin and end my day, the moments inbetween often become swallowed up in…well you get the picture, distractions! Yikes!
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Energy, and how do I use what’s *actually* in the ‘tank’. Inspiring and thought-provoking for this 60+ woman who thinks she’s still 50. 🙄😊 Thanks Kristen!
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Oh, I really needed this post right now. Thank you. I have bookmarked it and saved it on pinterest to remind me to focus on my priorities. I need to stop letting the distractions steal what time I have for the important things.
I struggle in this area. I’m out of energy before I’m out of hours in the day. Thank you. Very encouraging!
Kristen, excellent article on priorities. I aligned my priorities and my actions and it has helped me so much. Sometimes I can’t believe how much gets done but that is because of God.
A great reminder today to keep God as our #1 priority!! That Psalm fits perfectly with what you write. Blessings on your day!
This is such a great topic! I tend to assume that I have an infinite amount of energy, but God often reminds me that I’m called to be a steward of this energy instead of pouring it out in the wrong places! Thanks for this today!
This is a great reminder to focus on what is truly important. I love some of the suggestions you made about prioritizing our time. Intention is so important.