Are you feeling a bit tired as of late? Maybe apathetic, hopeless, or fearful?
This odd little phrase has really changed how I look at things in my life and especially how I prioritize. We only have so many hours in a day. We are finite human beings with real physical limitations. We only have so much energy (physically and mentally). We like to think we are super heroes. Our culture celebrates being able to “do it all.” But the reality is, that’s a lie. If we try to do it all, we run out of steam for the most important relationships in our life, and you can bet with certainty that we have a real enemy who wants to distract us with the things that won’t have an eternal significance.
He wants to keep you busy, wants to suck up your margin, wants to keep you exhausted and focused on anything but your relationship with the Lord, your spouse, your children, and other important relationships with eternal consequence.
Every day we are faced with choices on what we will prioritize. Some of these choices seem innocent—at first. But over time, if we habitually choose people or things over these eternal relationships, there’s a very high cost.
How to Pinpoint Your “Energy Vampires”
Someone recently told me it’s essential to set up boundaries in your life from people or things that are energy vampires: anyone or anything that can drain you of energy that should be directed towards your God-given relationships and calling.
If you’re feeling perpetually exhausted, anxious, fearful, quick to snap at your spouse or kids, or just have an overarching feeling that you’re not doing anything very well because you are spread too thin, then it’s time for you to ask yourself some questions:
- With whom or where do you spend the best hours of your day?
- With whom or where do you find your energy is drained the quickest?
- Is that thing you just answered a part of your top priorities?
- At the end of the day, what do you have left to pour into those whom the Lord has entrusted to you?
Recently, I found myself not wanting to spend time with my husband at night. I’ve been exhausted, and the last thing I wanted to do was ask him how his day was because I felt I didn’t have the energy to listen. After about a week of this zoning out and being disinterested or easily frustrated, I noticed it was becoming a habit. After Christ, he is supposed to be the relationship I nourish most. Something had to give.
What or whom is taking energy that should be his? Do I cut back on something (even if it’s good) so I’m not running on fumes for the thing that is better? Christian author and speaker, Jill Briscoe, says sometimes what seems like a good thing needs to be put on hold for the better thing. She gave the example of doing the dishes versus having a quiet time while her young kids napped. The dishes are good, but time with the Lord was better. If we don’t intentionally prioritize our time, our time flies away.
Below are a few examples of energy vampires:
- Toxic relationships with people, food, or substances
- Social media
- Job that keeps you away from the relationships that matter most
- Arguing/debating instead of praying
- Hobbies that take too much time from your family
- Ministry that takes too much time from your family
- An unhealthy focus or devotion to people or causes you keep trying to change when you don’t have the power to do so
Some of these things are not bad things. I’m not saying we can’t ever have a hobby or we shouldn’t do ministry. But if we get things right “out there” without things being right inside our own homes, what’s the point? Again, we only have a few hours every day. If you take one and put it somewhere, you don’t get it back. It’s gone forever. If you have no margin and you’re always running on fumes, then you will find yourself merely tolerating the relationships in your life instead of enjoying them and delighting in these blessings from the Lord.
This Is How I Prioritize My Time and Avoid “Energy Vampires”
One of the ways I’ve found to help me refocus was to give my most important relationships and activities quality time each day.
I start with God. When we spend at least the first 15-30 minutes of our day in prayer and reading the Bible, it gives us a beautiful lens with which to see people and circumstances. We can see them through His eyes instead of our own. Problems that might have sucker-punched us later in the day don’t seem so large when we view it through God’s perspective.
A wise counselor once told me to make a list of what I think needs to get done that day and write “God” on top and on the side write “rest and trust in Him.” It’s amazing how much that helps!
Next, I make sure to give undivided time to each one of my kids and my husband. It doesn’t have to be hours! I start with 15 minutes of intentional time with each kid and at the end of the night when my husband comes home, I apply the same principle. I ask him about his day, and I don’t look at my phone, clean, or do anything else but really listen and respond.
Knowing that I’m going to give these loved ones that time helps me cut out other things I might have let crowd in, like too much scrolling or mindless TV at the end of the day. Exercise, homeschooling, serving others, business, and other important things that need attention in my life take priority after that, so if opportunities arise that don’t line up with my first list, I have to take a moment to take stock and see if saying “yes” to that means saying “no” to the things I believe I am called to first and foremost.
What I’ve discovered is that by putting the important things first, I actually have more energy throughout the day. I feel so much more clearheaded and peaceful because even if nothing else gets done, the most important things did. We only get so much time on this earth, and we have a call on our life to spend it differently than the world. We are to spend it on things that will count for eternity. There is so much at stake right now, for our marriages, for our kids, for our neighbors, and our world. And there is so much that is zapping us of the energy we need to truly make a difference and guard our minds from burnout.
We must take inventory and ask for the Lord’s wisdom and strength to obey wherever He convicts. Living in His will and having Him as the authority of how we spend our days is the most joyful and peaceful place to be.
Want to read more on balancing life? Start here:
I Might Be a Good Mom, Can That Make Me Be a Bad Wife?
Moms Do It All and This Is How They Are Compensated
When I’m Worn Out, I Think About Who Planted Me
5 Tips to Build Healthy Relationships Busyness: Is It Really Your Badge of Honor? This Is How I Enjoy My Life Even When It’s Overwhelming
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