This week I pulled out a small 5 X7 notebook from my collection of journals. I was curious why I had this shabby little book on my shelf. When I opened it, I felt like I was in a movie where light beams out of a magical book. It was my journal from the year 2002, with 5 of my 6 children still left at home, my husband wanting to leave a job he wasn’t happy with, so he was traveling a lot picking up extra work. I read in fascination of the jumble of busy and stressful days.
What it reminded me of, is what it’s like to have a crazed 2-year-old as your constant companion. Over and over in its pages, I wrote how difficult this child was and at one point I went to the temple for reinforcement. Afterwards I wrote down the strong impression I received about this child , that “he was my work on this earth. Not wishing him grown up so I can get my masters degree. It hit me powerfully.” This was double underlined in my journal. It blows my mind that I went for peace and strength, and I wasn’t given a pass–I was given a strong directive.
Here I am 18 years later, thinking about that long-suffering, exasperating but ultimately fulfilling work. He was worth it! He has been such a gift–and it was a long hard pull. I also know getting that impression was critical for me. The Lord knew this child was difficult, but I still had a responsibility, and with His help I could see it through.
“A few things matter, literally until the end of time. A very, very few things really matter for a thousand years, very few and most stuff in that perspective is just trivial and can just be discarded, don’t even worry about it, don’t even think about it. It’s of no consequence. Few things matter most and last a long time, they could last eternally, and that’s what we should center our lives in, that’s what we should put first. So that means putting God first, making him the priority in our lives so that everything else can be seen in proper perspective.”
“You’ve got to start saying ‘yes’ when other people are saying ‘no,'” he said. “You have to start saying ‘no’ when other people are saying ‘yes.’
McKeown calls these “divine trade-offs” and says the work of making the right choice in these instances is “the work of life.”
“The nature of the plan is that we cannot do it all. … If there were no trade-offs, there would be no need for agency,” he said. “I just have to figure out from the Lord what he wants me to do, what my errand from the Lord is.”
I know it is easy for me to look back from my high and mighty empty nester perch to be preachy about this. That is not my intent. I had forgotten how hard this stretch of my life was, but through my journal there was a thread of me constantly seeking support and strength from heaven, because I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.
What is our errand from the Lord? How do we discern what our own eternal choices are ? Can we trust God enough to lean on Him (heavily, in my case) to help us?