Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Taking Hills

It's not that my life is a battleground exactly, but I have found myself thinking a lot lately about the "taking of hills," which is military terminology, I think. I've actually found it a helpful mental image, as if ground gained is ground I want to keep and defend.

It might be, for instance, a pound lost in the battle of the bulge. Or it could be substituting a new habit for an unhelpful old one. Whatever small victory I have just won, on my mind's eye I see myself planting a flag on a hill with the a word or number to symbolize it.

My flags are decorated with my own coat of arms, with four quadrants, representing the four most important areas of my life. Distilling the important things down to four, for someone like me, is a very good thing and helps me develop focus. I can approach life like a book-aholic in a book store, intoxicated with the smell and feel of so many books, so many choices, and wanting to fill my shopping cart with far more than I could hope to read. Actually that metaphor is far too close for comfort. :)

In the top left hand quarter, is a picture of an open book, representing The Word. The Word is God, according to the first chapter of the gospel of John--God's revealing of himself to us, through the written page. Unless I am spending time soaking up the Word; pondering it, considering it and allowing God to speak to me through it, I am a pale shadow of what God intended me to be; a ghostly, sickly, substitute version of all that he intended.

In the top right hand quadrant there are people: my family and friends. I need daily solitude, but it is my springboard to healthy community. I thrive on relationship and love connecting with people.

The bottom left quadrant holds a feather quill and ink well. I could not live happily without writing. For me it is almost as though things become more real when I write about them. I feel compelled to record!

The bottom right quadrant represents investments in physical health such as exercise, healthy eating and intentionally resting and having down time. I have deep awe for the complex and beautiful thing that a body is. I want to care for it at least as well as I do my car--okay, maybe better. If you saw my car you would know what I mean.

Really, these four things are what are most important to me. From each of them flows everything else that is meaningful, as a sub category. For instance, although I love singing, it is very tied in with The Word. The words of old Wesleyan hymns were my first theology texts and it is what I am singing that makes me want to sing.

Knowing what my four priorities are, is helping me sort out what to say "no" to. There are good things that I would love to do, but there is only so much time and energy a person has access to. I am saving mine for my four things.

I'm curious. What are your four things, dear readers? And what hills are you taking?


Julie said...

As I sat here and reflected on your message and began to take stock of how I am taking the hill as you said I realized that I seem to be taking the hill by storm. I need to address and sort my priorities. Thanks Belinda for the wake up call

Susan said...

This is really good, Belinda. I'm inspired to stop and take stock of what I'm giving my life to... I like that you built the desires of your heart into a coat of arms.. That's just the kind of imagery that my little brain relates to.

Marilyn said...

I'm IN a taking stock mode, pushed there actually, so this is very helpful to me. Thanks.

I wish I had more time to reflect out loud here on some of the things I'm gaining clarity about, but alas cannot. I'm sure a lot of blog readers feel this way and don't speak up, but their thoughts are stirred for an entire day (and beyond) by seeds planted by the blog writer. So keep going, well as the rest of you here!

This is one blog where I not only read the post, but also all the comments, sometimes a day or so late, but I get there.

Kathy H said...

I've just discovered your blog; not sure how I came to it :) but I'm enjoying your writing. Your flag with its four priorities is very inspiring. For me, the image I use is of a wheel, with God being the center, the hub, and all other activities radiating like spokes from that center. I imagine that the spokes can be fluid, changing size (the larger, the higher the priority) as the seasons of my life dictate. Here are some of the spokes: spiritual (knowing and being known by God); social (family and friends); work of my hands (household stuff; hobbies, crafts, etc); work of my heart (things the Lord as asked me to be involved in e.g. leading a Bible study). And similarly to your quadrants having sub-categories, my spokes also have "sub-spokes". As to the hills I'm taking, right now the big one is Freedom. Paul told the Galatians "It's for freedom that Christ has set you free". That's the hill I'm working on taking: getting free from old fears, old thought patterns, old expectations, other people's expectations, anything that holds me back from being free to be the person that God intends me to be. It's exciting!

Thank you for your thought-provoking post, I look forward to reading more of your writing.

Dave Hingsburger said...

OK Belinda I'm going to admit it, if I'd been asked to guess your quadrants I'd have done them quite differently. Hmmmm, interesting. I wonder what you'd put in my four. This would be an interesting 'relationship game' that people could use. I'm wondering if you and Paul or you and Susan would get each other right. With your permission I may blog on this later ... great, great post.

Belinda said...

Desr Friends,
Here I am at the end of the day almost, just reading your comments, but feeling as though I found a collection of friends waiting for me with smiling faces and something to say. You all feel like a warm hug. Thank you.

Julie, Susan and Marilyn, you encouraged me no end tonight.

Kathy H., new friend, thank you for the blessing of your thoughts and for honouring us here, by reading and commenting. And of course, yes, God should have been slap bang in the centre.

Dave, now I'm wondering what you would have guessed my quadrants to be. Of course you have my permission to blog on this or jump off from it in any way at all. I would be honoured.

~Ifer said...

Making priorities is SUCH an important step in life.

My four priorities?
My husband
My faith
My family
My artistic creations.

Thank you for this entry, it is a great reminder to each of us to focus on what is really important.

Angcat said...

I'm reading this days late, but still want to share...
This really challenged me Belinda. I've been realizing that I say 'yes' to too much that really interests me, but isn't realistic in my life as wife and Mom of 4.

So charting, flagging or whatever you want to call this exercise really makes sense.

I've been praying about something that I agreed to do, but I never have the time to get to it. This will help.

Your hill with the flag on makes me think of Hinds Feet on High Places and how in her climb up the mountain, Much Afraid had all those altars and a stone or token of some sort to indicate her growth and victory in that area.
We need these things to remind us and keep us on track.

Thanks for all this.

Joanna Mallory said...

Belinda, I love the simplicity of this idea of taking hills. That's how we do it, one hill at a time, not the whole land in one fell swoop.

I have five divisions that I see in a loose circle: relationships, home, writing, personal, ministry. Each one has its own list of ingredients, and overall they point me toward balance.