Over the holiday break, I misplaced my iPhone. Well, actually, I unwittingly abandoned it in the child seat part of a shopping cart at Walgreens. You see, I was coupon shopping that day and had the Walgreens ad spread across the cart. My hands were full of coupons—coupons worth over ten dollars! I was going to make a haul at Walgreens that day people! But it just so happened that all of the products I was going to purchase for pennies (toothpaste and laundry detergent and wet wipes and hot cocoa) were out of stock. So, I peevishly left the store, coupons still in hand.
From there I went to the bank and chauffeured some kiddos to piano lessons, where I realized that my iPhone was not in my pocket, not in my coupon binder, not in my car, not even in my possession. And then I began to panic. How could I have been so careless? I had been vigilantly clinging to $10 worth of coupons, while disregarding something of, well let’s just say, far greater value.
The story ended well I am happy to say. Thank goodness for honest people. But the incident left me pondering. Are there other times in my life when the choices I make are inconsistent with the things of greatest value? And as I considered this question, I had to admit the way I spend my time isn’t always reflective of what is truly important. I believe many of us would make a similar admission.
I think it is safe to say that we all have much more that we’d like to do than we have time to do it. And so we have to choose to do some things and omit others. Sometimes, when I’m down on myself, I wonder how other women accomplish so much. How are their houses so clean or their clothing and makeup so fashionable. But I have to remember, that choices are part of mortality and everyone has to make them. These good women have the same number of hours in the day as I do. They are choosing to do some things and I am choosing to do others (like read books, snuggle kiddos and eat bonbons).
I love Bonnie Parkin’s notion that it would be easy to choose between visiting a friend and robbing a bank. But instead, we get to choose among many good things. I’d like to say that I always make mindful choices based on my values. But the truth is, I often make them unconsciously—doing what seems most urgent or even what seems easiest. I certainly would not have chosen coupons over my iPhone on purpose, but the result was the same.
So how do we decide what to vigilantly hold and what to let go?
Dallin H. Oaks offered valuable insight.
This advice reminds me of the scriptural account of Mary and Martha. When the Savior entered their home, Martha busied herself in preparing a meal for him. Her priority was service. Mary, on the other hand, sat at his feet. When Martha asked the Savior to bid Mary help her with the chores, the Savior responded lovingly, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things. But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
I believe the Savior recognized and appreciated Martha’s efforts. Service is a very good thing. But learning at the Savior’s feet was more needful. The Savior taught us that in making decisions, we should be careful not to judge others and always be looking to choose what is better or best—of highest and most lasting value.
Stephen R. Covey’s offered an excellent way of making value judgements with respect to our time. He established four quadrants for our choices. In looking at my daily choices, I find that without mindfulness, I tend to waste my time in the bottom half of this chart, dealing with things of fleeting value. But Covey challenges us to MAKE time each day for those matters which are of greatest value, that are important but not urgent.
So, inspired by my iPhone debacle, I have made a new years resolution—and it’s about time! This year, I will choose the “good part.”
I sure hope that when my time on earth runs out, I won’t look back and realize that I spent my life clutching $10 worth of coupons at the expense of what was of eternal and immeasurable worth. I imagine, in the end, there just won’t be time for me to run around town looking for what I unwittingly left behind.
the good part