It started when I was a teenager. A well intentioned church leader brought in a jar, a bag of big rocks, a bag of pebbles and a bag of sand. She then proceeded to demonstrate how if you put in the big rocks first (prayer, scripture study- your relationship with God.) and then added in the smaller rocks (school, work etc.) and only then added the sand (hobbies, activities etc.) would everything fit. If you tried to fill the jar in any other order there was no way to make everything fit.
I walked out thinking that as long as I put God first everything else would fall into place.
So, God first then.
After I got married and then had kids my pile of big rocks began to grow.
Feed, clothe, nurture the kids
Make my relationship with my husband a priority
But still God first.
For many years this analogy served me well. I would gather my big rocks and place them in my jar one by one most days, and still have room for the smaller rocks:
And even lots of sand. Although often the pebbles and the sand were interchangeable depending on my own needs, my family’s needs, and the needs of my neighbors. For me, time alone can bump itself up to a big rock on some days.
But still, God first and then family
And then, suddenly, everything didn’t fit. Most days I still got all the big rocks in the jar, but sometimes I only got one. Most days the pebbles and the sand sat in a forgotten heap under my dirty couch.
Sometimes I felt like pieces of myself were sitting under the couch too, a little bit lost. Sometimes I felt like my jar had betrayed me.
But I eventually realized that the true meaning of the analogy was not to make everything fit. But to put first things first.
God first and then family
Sometimes my relationship with God takes more time, sometimes my family’s needs require a majority of my time.
But that’s okay because those rocks are what bring the most joy. Ultimately everything else is really just pebbles and sand.
Since I last wrote we’ve added this guy, who is very adored and every accomplishment celebrated. Sometimes family takes more time.
A visual image of where my priorities have been. My children on the last day of school. Fashion was not one of my rocks, or even my pebbles at this point. But they are clothed, fed, safe, and at this point happy. Now I can start adding back the pebbles.