The Search for Significance

When we were dating, my husband and I would sit and talk for hours – literally. These days, it is impossible to find an hour for ourselves –let alone string together several of them at one time! Last night, however, we managed to find some time for each other. We talk about everything. What is helpful for me is that I get to talk about the things that are really bothering me. Periodically I need time to identify and wrestle with those issues buried deep down inside me that are causing me stress. I’ve noticed that those things tend to have the same general theme. I am often overwhelmed by my commitments. I have work, family, personal and professional commitments that are all competing with one another for my valuable time. Why, then, do I take on so much I wonder?

How Do You Define Yourself?

I always find it interesting when I am in a setting where people must introduce themselves. I am always anxious to see what title each person gives himself or herself. What element of their being will they give the most emphasis? Will the lady in the corner say “Hi, I’m Mary and I’m a neurosurgeon” or will she say “Hi, I’m Mary and I’m John’s wife and mother of our three boys?” I always think that these introductions are quite telling with respect to the priorities of those involved. Do we define ourselves through our work, our family, our hobbies or in some other way? In his best-selling book The Search for Significance, Robert McGee says that we shouldn’t base our self-worth on the opinions or accomplishments of others. Instead, it should be based on spirituality. Such a simple question as “who are you?” evokes so many possibilities.

Setting Priorities

This project is leading me in an unexpected direction. It is opening my eyes to both the physical and emotional clutter in my life and I’ve begun to work at ridding myself of both. While I’ve netted $75 in eBay from decluttering on the physical side, the benefits have yet to roll in on the emotional side. I think the first step is setting priorities. Those priorities, though, should relate to who I am and what I deem important in my life. When I performed this exercise back in graduate school, I realized that I needed to do a better job managing the work-family balance. Because my family is so important (and I was beginning to lose myself in my studies), I thought that they should know that they count on me just as I count on them. We therefore instituted some ‘scheduling rules’:

  1. Daytime hours are normal work/study days unless there is a special event.
  2. Sunday through Thursday from after dinner to midnight is my time for work or study.
  3. From Friday after dinner to Sunday after church is family time.

It’s funny to look back at these ‘rules’. They are from the days when my advisor strongly suggested that I spend 80 hours each week studying. What is interesting is that at this stage of my career, I don’t find that I work any less! I suppose that makes all the more reason why I need to create a schedule that we all can live by.

2010 Scheduling Rules

The other day, I caught myself snapping at my oldest son for talking to me while I was working. He hung his head and walked away. We both felt small. Clearly we need a remedy. Well, everyone seems to like having the weekly menu on the refrigerator, so it sounds like it might make sense to put the weekly schedule next to it – including the times that Mom is working at home and should not be disturbed. Here are the new rules:

  1. School hours are normal work hours for mom and dad unless there is a special event.
  2. Sunday through Thursday from bedtime to midnight is extra time for mom and dad to get work done.
  3. From school dismissal on Friday to bedtime on Sunday is family time.
  4. Any exceptions to the normal scheduling rules will be noted on the weekly schedule.

That still makes for a 50-hour work week for mom and dad and every evening and weekend devoted to family. I think that’s something we can all agree on.
Hello, my name is Stephanie and I’m crazy about my husband and two gorgeous boys . . .

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