As a career single, I learned early on the value of keeping a busy schedule. Not only did keeping busy help me to sleep well at night, but it also lent a sense of vitality and zest to what could have otherwise been seen as a humdrum existence. I spent my twenties and early thirties in an endless whirl of work, travel, social functions, volunteerism, and many, many other activities.
But just because my life was busy didn't mean that it was full.
Busy doesn't always mean full, and full doesn't always mean good. After all, having a stomach full of cheese puffs and having a stomach full of chicken dinner are two very different matters. Both may fill you up for the moment, but only one will give you strength for the long haul.
Likewise, having a packed schedule can mean that you may feel satisfied in the moment but still wind up empty in the long run.
What I've had to learn is that there's a difference between filling your schedule and filling your life.
How to Fill Your Life:
There really is only one principle regarding how to fill your life, and it is that you must put the big things in first. As someone who has moved houses twice in the last year, I recognize this as a standard box-packing principle: once you've placed the largest items in the box, it then becomes easy to fit many smaller items in around them.
So when you fill your life, remember to put the big things in first.
To do this, you must first determine what is important. Notice that I did not say you must determine what is important to you. I said that you must determine what is important.
Do not let postmodernism seduce you: your opinion is less relevant than reality. There are some aspects of life that are more important than others, no matter how you may happen to feel.
So... what are the big things, you ask?
Assuming a committed and growing relationship with God, I would say that the big things boil down to just two: people and truth.
- People - The people God has surrounded you with are your primary ministry. You must live the Gospel to them every day. If you are too busy to do this--too busy to care for their souls, to pray both for and with them, to counsel them, minister to them, edify them, amuse them, comfort and confront them, actively love them--then you have failed to pack the big things first. Yes, the activities in your life can be avenues by which you expand that sphere of influence, but they can also be the very distractions that draw you from your purpose. Seek discernment to see the difference.
- Truth - Living the Gospel to the people in your life is impossible if you are not daily rooted and grounded in truth. If you are too busy for real, substantial spiritual growth then it's time to repack your life.
In planning this post, I had difficulty knowing how to order the above two points, but the limits of language being what they are, I had to mention one of them before the other. Lest you think that serving people is more important than growing in truth, however, let me say this: the two are meant to work symbiotically.
Serving people drives us to grow in truth, and growing in truth drives us to serve people. If all we do is learn without serving, of what value is our knowledge? If all we do is serve without knowledge, what real assurance do we have that what we are investing our time in is actually in keeping with God's overarching plan? Furthermore, where will we draw the strength and fortitude necessary to continue in the face of opposition if we do not have a bedrock foundation of truth in which to anchor our souls?
People and truth.
Truth and people.
Focusing on these two elements as you order your days can take you from having a full schedule to having a full life.