The start of a new year is a good time to consider values you hold dear. Are they still working for you? Maybe you don’t even know what your values are, but the decisions you make are usually based on values. Even if you make a decision because “someone made you do it,” or rather, due to peer pressure, that reflects a value you attach to looking good in front of other people, or earning approval, or something like that.
At this time of year, people may be upset about all the money they spent over the holidays. Except for someone I’ll call Bob. Bob spends very little over the holidays because he values saving a buck above all else. Really? Is that what life is all about? Bob seems to treasure dollar-saving coupons more than his loved ones. Who cares if his wife hasn’t had a night out in months; dinner at home is much cheaper! Who cares if the dishwasher is broken; do without and save some money! It appears that Bob thinks spending money is a sin.
I actually understand this because I used to feel the same. In my 20s, I decided not to attend my best friend’s wedding because I thought it would be irresponsible to spend so much money on the airfare. Oh my gosh, what kind of values does that reflect? Now I realize that my friend is way more important than money. Today, I’d be there for her no matter what.
The fact is that I have always placed a high value on travel, of exploring new places. Yet, in my young adult years, I used to suppress my love of travel, thinking it was self-serving and possibly “wrong” because of the money required. But if you look at the ultimate role model of worthy values—Jesus—you would see that going places offers the opportunity to spread peace to the ends of the earth. Jesus clearly traveled! Granted, he went by foot or boat, but the point is that travel, if anything, is a value that has been blessed by our Lord (Mark 16:15).
Incidentally, Jesus also approved of a woman pouring expensive perfume on his head, to the surprise of many people around him who thought it was wasteful (Mark 14). Jesus valued relationships more than resources.
Yes, being financially responsible is important, but back to Bob who won’t get the damn dishwasher fixed, others are inconvenienced and left feeling unimportant because he doesn’t want to spend a dime. He actually has plenty of money, but due to warped values, he thinks he shouldn’t spend it.
The particular value that I’ll be reassessing for myself this year is one I’ve been trying to shed for a decade: the value I place in perfectly ordering my day. I’m kind of odd in this area, I suppose, but I seriously grieve, even suffer, over wasted time. My peace-of-mind is often disturbed because I’ve spent all morning writing this article, for example, when I really should be doing something else. I scold myself, complain to my husband, and drink too much coffee to work faster and make up for lost time.
Come to think of it, being overly precious with my time may not be that different than over-valuing money. And who’s to say when spent money and time is really “wasted”? Maybe I’ve learned something by taking too long on a project that goes nowhere. Only God really knows what’s actually going on in any situation; there are too many variables beyond our limited perspective for us to fully understand.
Which leads me to the value I want to hold in highest regard moving forward: the value of trusting God with my life, which includes trusting Him for my imperfect past and use of time. God does not require perfection. Jesus’s friends were crazy imperfect! But God does want us to invite Him into our lives and trust Him even when we make mistakes. If I trust Him with mistakes I’ve made in the past so they stop making me cringe, maybe I’ll be freer and more clear-headed in the future with the choices I make, knowing that I’m not going to rack myself over the coals if I do something like—horror of horrors—mismanage my time.
So the new year provides an opportunity to look at what is really important. If you have a value that is interfering with something that is more valuable, like caring for family and friends, make a willful decision to reshuffle those values. For me, I’m going to elevate the values of keeping my peace-of-mind, complaining less, and trusting God even in my imperfections. As for travel, that value can stay right where it is—close to the top.