When schedules get busy and busier, how do we keep focused and not get overwhelmed?
I can relate! This question has come up frequently in my life, more and more over the past few years. I spend over twenty hours a week dancing because it is my favorite way to glorify and express God. With this busy dance schedule and the effort to maintain good grades, it is difficult to stay focused and not let the pressure get to me.
I have found that it is key to decide what my number one priority is and work everything around that. This idea shows up in the Bible frequently and is especially represented in Matthew when Jesus talks about how we cannot have "two masters" (6:24). Jesus explains, "You can't worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you'll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can't worship God and Money both" (The Message, Matt 6:24). This is analogous to figuring out what is most important in your life and spending your time focusing on that.
My number one priority is to glorify and express God. While school is very important to me, and I enjoy expressing God, Mind, by doing well at school, my favorite way to glorify God is through my dancing. Choosing what's important to me helps me prioritize. I spend at least four hours after school at dance each night and then think about the rest of the things I have to do afterwards.
I am frequently tempted to let less important things keep me from doing what I know I should be doing though, like spending time with friends, watching that one TV show, or being on facebook. Sometimes these things do get me sidetracked, but I remind myself what is most important to me. This keeps me on the right track and lowers my level of stress. It also motivates me to do some of those things that I don't want to do but that are worth doing if I want to progress.
When I stick to my main goal, which is to express God, I end up having to sacrifice some of the things that I want to do. Sometimes, to remain loyal to the one thing you want the most, you have to let go of the little things that get you off track, things you don't have time for.
The concept of sacrifice runs all the way through the Bible. One story is of Abraham. He thought God wanted him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. He was ready to sacrifice his son because he was loyal to God. Of course, God does not make him actually do this. God stops him and says, "Don't lay a hand on that boy… Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn't hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me" (The Message, Matt Gen 22:12). Abraham was willing to make a huge sacrifice for God just like many people make sacrifices for what is most important to them.
Recently, I had to sacrifice going to my favorite camp for the tenth year to attend a six-week summer intensive for dance in Colorado. I felt like this was the best choice for me because it would help me grow immensely in my dance, which would strengthen my expression of God. I was very sad that I would not be seeing all of my camp friends who I miss so much, but I decided that making this sacrifice was worth it because this dance camp would be a great experience. So I have learned that you sometimes have to sacrifice things for what you want the most.
I know that I have not yet reached the most stressful point in my life, but I do have a lot of stress now because of my full schedule. So I am learning how to deal with it and how to increase my capacity for doing so. I have found that figuring out what is most important to me right now has helped me stay focused. Also, I have found that it is necessary to make sacrifices for that one most important goal.
The Bible has helped me find these two ways to keep ahead of the pressure. The stories of what Bible characters have done have taught me how to deal with my busy schedule and stay on top of things. I feel like the Bible is very relevant to my life now and has many good examples of coping with challenging situations for me and for everyone.
Holly Wilder, age15