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by Natalie Lynn Borton

This post is 100% inspired by a chapter in Shauna Niequist‘s newest book, Bittersweet, which I read earlier this year and absolutely loved (see my review here). Shauna was the featured guest at a women’s Christmas tea I attended, and when she spoke on stage she shared this entire chapter with the women in the audience. The beautifully crafted words of honesty fluttered through the air and we were all ears.

Shauna described herself as a list-maker who never could figure out how so many busy women could keep it all together. One day over lunch, her friend Denise told her, “What’s hard…is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.” Those words stuck with her for a while until she realized what was necessary:

Deciding what I wanted wasn’t that hard. But deciding what I’m willing to give up for those things is like yoga for your superego, stretching and pushing and ultimately healing that nasty little person inside of you who exists only for what people think.

So, there’s the question I’m asking myself. What am I willing to not do in order to be the person I really want to become? First, as Shauna did, I must consider what matters to me.

Things I do.

  • I pray, study God’s word, and grow in my faith each year. My faith is what makes me who I am, and what shapes me into the woman I am growing into each and every day.
  • I invest in my family. My parents raised me to be who I am, and Brian will be at my side as my new family for the rest of our lives. I call regularly, I make time, I keep myself available. One day if kids enter the picture, I’m sure I’ll be glad I practiced this one in my non-motherhood years.
  • I keep my best friends close, even when we live far away. No matter where we end up or move to (already we’re scattered around California and Texas), having friends that are like family is one of the greatest gifts from God. These people are what, in a later chapter in the book, Shauna refers to as the “home team.” It’s become my new favorite term.
  • I honor my body with the way I eat and exercise. Too many years of abuse and judgement ruined my self-esteem and prevented me from living my life feeling fully alive. I am finally in a place of freedom, and I choose to live freely in love by treating my body the way it should be treated: as a wonderfully made and unique creation of God.
  • I get a full night’s sleep and wake up early. Morning is my favorite time of day, why sleep in?

Next, I have to consider what I am willing to sacrifice in order to keep doing the things I listed above. What would I give up so that I can maintain the values that are important to me?

Things I don’t do.

  • I don’t over-commit my time. I fell into this trap too often in college, over-scheduling my calendar to feel important and keep busy. But in the past few years since graduation, I’ve come to value down time, rest time, time to be available to the family and friends who are so dear to me. Yes, there are times when I am tempted to sign up for every single group and club that exists in my town, but that doesn’t mean that I give into the urges anymore. It’s not worth the sacrifice.
  • I don’t stay up late. Like I said, morning is the best in my book! So unless it’s New Year’s Eve, I’m on vacation, or a friend is having a crisis, you can expect me to be hitting the hay around 10:00 p.m.
  • I don’t pursue close friendships with men. This is so simple, and maybe seems silly, but it’s the least I can do to protect my marriage. I love Brian more than anyone in the world, and I couldn’t imagine ever confiding in any man other than him. However, if we don’t guard our hearts and we build up friendships with men who aren’t our husbands (for those of us who are married, anyway), we create an opportunity for disaster in the future. When it doubt, leave it out…well, close friendships with men, that is.

This list will always be evolving, changing, and growing as the years go on. I’ll add more things I do, and more things I don’t do, but I feel like this is a solid start in the right direction. Listing what matters to me puts everything into perspective, and it makes saying no a whole lot easier when I realize that saying yes would compromise that which I hold so dearly.

What are you willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about? Or, in other words, what are things that you don’t do?

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