*Let’s just start with a disclaimer: people have lost a lot, whole structures have fallen apart and everyday feels the same – I’m not trying to neglect the bad things of this year, but talk about things I’ve picked up on from my experience of 2020 so far.
So yeah, dare I say it, 2020 has been necessary. I feel almost as if our eyes have been opened to a lot of things that we didn’t see before. We were very cosy with our blasé approach to life. We were fine with being around people we didn’t like that much for company, we tolerated jobs that treated us poorly, we didn’t mind systems that were inherently flawed so long as they didn’t affect us too much – we basically dealt with anything that didn’t make existing too hard.
And then all of these “okay” things were stripped from us, and we were given what we’ve desired most: all the time in the world.
I’ve come to realise that the most terrifying thing for me is to have is all the time in the world. Why? Because life has consisted so much of just trying to find time that when we’re given it on a platter there’s an element of anxiety on what to actually do with it. All of the things I said I would do with all the time in the world were just senseless preaching because when the opportunity arose, I didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t know how to spend quality time with my family, I binge ate and went on a grand total of 4 runs when I swore I would come out of this a healthier person, I avoided calls from friends who I would meet with weekly before – all of the things I said I would pursue with more time were the things I hid from.
My conclusion? I don’t know what I want.
Or better yet, I don’t even know why I want it. If anything, I realised that I actually had no clue what I wanted from my time, which is possibly why I settled for the “okay” things that made living bearable. And it took a great lump of unbearable free time to show me that. I think my priorities were okay, but the motivations weren’t sufficient to keep me going in them. Wanting to lose weight to be attractive leads you to unrealistic eating and exercise habits that you’ll drop in a week. Wanting to spend time with your friends so that they view you as a good person will leave you in phone calls you don’t want to have, staring out of a window and sounding clearly disengaged.
I’ve had a good 8 months to put my motivations in place. But in order for me to even realise what it was that I wanted out of life, it took some deep reflection and time spent with God. And I think God was so central to fixing my priorities because I realised that despite not knowing what temporary things I wanted to pursue, I knew that I wanted Him most. I was growing distant from Him and I felt terrible in every aspect of my life. So, I returned to the core my faith, being the gospel of Jesus, and worked with God to work out what I wanted (because part of wanting God is also wanting what He wants for you and others). I also just felt that God would represent my interests best because He knows me more than I know myself. And I found my priorities and motivations in the two greatest commandments. These were my priorities:
- Spiritual: I want to have a deeper relationship with God and know Him better. God wants this from me so that I can walk with Him and fulfil the greatest commandment: to love the Lord with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). I want to do this because I know that I find fulfilment in my relationship with God. I can look at content that discusses how other people have deepened their relationship with God, I can do this by reminding myself of God’s love for me expressed through Jesus as a cover for my sins and I can do this by building a habit of spending time with God daily.
- Mental: I want to deal with any deep-rooted trauma that affects my self-image, reinforces compulsive habits and damages my relationships with other people. God wants this for me so that I can fulfil the second greatest commandment: to love others as myself (Matthew 22:39). In overcoming these traumas, I am learning to appreciate what God has made (me) so that I can understand how others, who God has also made, ought to be appreciated. This could also fulfil the first commandment because if my self-perception changes, negative thought patterns which shift blame onto God for how He made me become thanksgiving and praise for how He’s made me. I can seek professional help and journal my thoughts and feelings so that it isn’t just rattling inside of my head. I can also look into God’s word to understand how He sees me and others. I can ask people to pray for me.
- Physical: I want to improve my physical health and fitness in a constructive way. God wants this for me because it will allow me to fulfil the first greatest commandment – I can love God with my strength and use my physical body to do His work on Earth, but if I don’t take control of my health conditions and allow myself to lose these functions, I can’t fulfil His word to the best of my ability. I can do this by developing permanent fitness and eating habits that are beneficial and realistic. I can consult professionals on what approaches and goals are best in line with my body and medical data. I can regularly track my progress and speak to friends about it to remind myself that I am making progress so that I don’t get frustrated. I can watch content that inspires or educates me to continue in this journey.
- Vocational: I want to be better at writing, singing and sewing. God wants me to improve on these things so that I can again fulfil the first and second greatest commandments and use those skills in love towards other people and God. I want this because I want to share my skills with people in a way that they can benefit. I can do this by looking for more opportunities to use these skills and set aside time in my week for these hobbies. I can set myself a target or challenge in each of these skills. I can start tracking different projects to have a record of my progress. I can watch content that inspires or educates me on how to improve. I can ask God how best these skills can be used for His will on Earth.
So I leave you with two questions:
How would your priorities and motivations change if you woke up and decided to align them with the word of God?
How would you change if you stuck to it?