Wednesday, March 05, 2008

One hat at a time...

A woman wears many hats in life. Of course, her primary end -- whether she realizes it or not -- is to know God and to be in relationship with him. At any given season in her life, however, she may also be wife, mother, friend, neighbor, daughter, granddaughter, helper to her husband's business, owner or employee of a business enterprise, student, volunteer, voter, mentor, etc.

If you look at just the role of home manager alone, this could entail being a lover to her husband, a companion and help meet to her husband, household economist, an organizer of the home, decorator of the home, cook, chauffeur, cleaner, launderer, mender, teacher, nurse, gardener, seamstress, listener, encourager, disciplinarian, comforter, breast feeder, guardian of the home, activity director and keeper of the schedule, social secretary, event planner, tax preparer, etc.

Fortunately, a woman's man activities usually blend together into a manageable and fulfilling life.
However, we can frustrate ourselves when we try to wear all of the hats in our wardrobe of roles at one time. I know because I have done this.

I can remember times when I was vacuuming with my hands and mentally brooding about something else -- such as something my husband needed. If I was spending time with my husband, I was worrying if the children were ok. If I was playing with my children, the dirty dishes in the sink tugged at my mind. If I was doing the dishes, a church matter might weigh heavily in my thoughts. If I was participating in a church activity, my mind would wander to the floor that needed vacuuming again.

This is a form of worry, and it is a discouraging way to think. It can make a woman think that her life is overwhelming, when it might really be that her life is full, satisfying, and in God's hands. It divide a woman's attentions, so that she cannot give her best to any one task, thus reducing the satisfaction that comes from productive work.

I've found that it's more satisfying and efficient to follow the admonition in Ecclesiastes 9:10: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might."

When performing an activity, give it your full attention at that time, knowing that there will be time to attend to the other things in your life. Some of our tasks do not necessarily engage every bit of our thought power. It is possible, for example, to think about something else while cleaning the counter tops in your kitchen. If your thoughts run to productive things and you are also able to do the job well, this is fine. However, if your thoughts run to everything else on your to-do list or they interfere with your doing a good job, you are setting yourself up for frustration.

Sometimes, it's hard to marshal our thoughts for our tasks because either we or loved ones are facing some sort of heartache. We home managers are not the only ones who struggle with this. I read a recent study that showed a correlation between drops in an entire company's productivity and challenges in the top executive's personal life.

Even in times of heartache, however, turning full attention to daily tasks can help us cope. It's important to pray and talk about griefs or concerns. Once we've done that, doing something routine can take our minds off of things and give us some moments of relief. In fact, in troublesome times, we may benefit even more from performing whatever our hands find to do with all of our might.

Of course, a woman of many hats must be able to change them in a moment's notice. Perhaps, we are tending to some work at our desk, but we realize that our child needs some attention. Or, we are cleaning out our refrigerator, when a friend comes by with a problem. Here again, if we must instantly take off one hat and put on another, we should give full attention to the new hat while we are wearing it.

Another time when it's hard to take off one hat and put on another is when we're excited about finishing a project. For example, if we are absorbed in sewing new curtains, we might find it hard to switch our attention to cooking dinner. Or, if we are planning something for a home business, we might find it hard to tear ourselves away and clean the bathroom. In fact, we can be quite restless inside until we get a certain project done and out of the way. It's best to enjoy the process of accomplishing something, even if it must be done in several sittings, and we do well to exchange our restlessness for contentment.

When we do reach a goal, it's wise to take a moment and mentally register the satisfaction of a task completed. Yes, there are likely many other things on our to do list, and these may loom large in our thoughts, making us wonder if we really are getting anywhere with our day. Our outlook will be cheerier if we do take note of what we have accomplished.

Many of the roles a woman does in her life are ongoing. Some are even a lifetime commitment. While a husband is living, what wife can say that she has no room for growth in her marriage? Who can say that their house is perfectly clean and organized and that there is not one thing that could be done to improve it?

The key is to manage our overall life well, rather than obsessing about one aspect of it. Again, we need to celebrate steps achieved along the way, and we also have to learn how to be content with the process of living. When it's time to wear one hat, we must wear it with all of our might. Then, when it's time to put on another one, we can take the first one off, rejoice that we were able to wear it when needed, and look forward in peace to the next time we put it on again.

I love physical hats and actually have a stash of them. Imagine what a sight I'd look if I put every hat in my closet on at once! Think of how hard it would be for me to balance all of those hats on my head at the same time! I'm sure that I'd not only look a fright, but I'd drop a lot of the hats as I walked. My physical head can wear only one hat in a moment. It would also be silly for me to choose one hat to wear and fret because I'm not currently wearing another in my collection.

In the same way, our attention can only focus in so many places at once. While we must be adept at changing hats or roles in the moment, in order to meet needs in a timely manner, we'll do well if we are content to wear one hat at a time.



Amy Jo said...

I seem to be having problems subscribing to your rss feed! :(

Elizabeth said...

Hi Amy Jo,

Are you trying to subscribe through Feedburner?

Amy Jo said...

yes, I'm trying to add you to my Google reader, and I keep getting "obsolete feed. This feed has moved to"

Has anyone else had that problem? I can get some posts, but they stop on Feb. 20

Elizabeth said...

Hi Amy Jo,

The problem's on my end. I decided to try to run everything through Technorati, but that might not have been such a good idea, and I may end up back at Feedburner. I'm going to get some advice from my wonderful Nashville blogging friends.

Sorry for any inconvenience.