A professor stood in front of his class and walked behind a table that displayed several items. One of those items was an empty glass jar. He held up the empty jar, thoughtfully paused, and then placed it back down in the center of the table.
Smiling up at his students, the professor reached over to a second item on the table. He took several medium sized rocks and began to fill the jar. When the rocks reached the top he stopped. The professor asked the class if the jar was full. They all agreed it was.
Smiling again, the professor looked to a second item on the table. He took several handfuls of pebbles and added them to the jar. Then shook the jar gently. The students watched as the pebbles clinked and trickled down the sides of the jar. The pebbles filled in spaces and crevices left around the rocks. The professor lifted his head and asked the class again if the jar was full. Again, his students agreed it was.
One last time, the professor reached over to the last item left on the table. He took a cup of sand and began pouring it into the glass jar. The sand slid around the rocks and pebbles, filling up every last bit of space in the jar.
“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar signifies your life. The rocks are the important things, such as family and relationships. The pebbles are the other things that matter in your life, such as work and your interests. The sand signifies the remaining small stuff-maybe TV shows or Facebook.
If you put sand into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks or the pebbles. Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just pebbles and sand.”*
What are the rocks, pebbles and sand in your life? How are those things reflected in the way that you spend your time?
I wanted to share a worksheet that I made to help me visualize my priorities and time. Your rocks, pebbles, and sand will be different than mine. My rocks/pebbles have changed over the years and in different seasons of my life. You may see the same thing in your life.
I printed the worksheet on card stock, cut out the jar, and pinned it to the cork board near my desk. When I see my “jar,” it helps me remember how full my jar is and where my time is or should be placed. It is especially helpful when I have been asked to take on a new task or asked to pray about a new commitment. When the request does not line up with the my priorities, it makes it a little easier to say no and be at peace with that response.
You can download the worksheet here.
*My version of the story was adapted from many other versions found on the web.
All snowflakes begin the same way. High in the sky, a tiny piece of dust collides with a cold droplet of water creating an ice crystal. As the ice crystal descends to earth, it moves through changing atmospheric conditions and responds in the creation of a snowflake. A beautiful and uniquely formed snowflake complete with exquisite patterns and plates. Not one snowflake is the same.
Children are like snowflakes. They start as a miracle, grow and form in the belly of a woman, and then are birthed into this world. Each child enters the world unique and beautifully made. Innocent and new, they do not know who they are or how to navigate the unfamiliar world they have come into.
Children depend on their parents for love and their basic needs. As children grow, parents help guide their children on the path of discovering their gifts, talents, and passions. We want our children to thrive physically, mentally, and spiritually as they grow into the exquisitely designed, healthy adults who they were created to be.
Sometimes, in our zeal to “help” our children discover who they are we often over look important things. Things like our children’s different personalities, priorities, hectic schedules, and most importantly the basic human need of rest. We are an overcommitted society. With good intentions, we end up creating and modeling a hurried, busy lifestyle rather than an atmosphere of rest and value on relationships. If we want our children to flourish in their unique person, we must learn to reevaluate our priorities and work to add rest back into our family’s schedule.
The following are ideas to implement rest back into everyday life. Some might be easier to add into your lifestyle than others. Some might require work, priority, scheduling, and practice. The work will pay off with positive results for all family members. Just as a snowflake is formed by the atmosphere around them, so will your children be formed by the environment you foster around them. Make their ascent into adulthood an atmosphere focused on relationships and with a priority to rest.
- Be “interruptible.” Life happens at unpredictable moments. Be mentally prepared to be interrupted when your kids need to talk or want to show you something. Listening to them now will create a habit and desire to talk to you later as young adults.
- Schedule downtime on your family’s calendar! Include your children in scheduling activities on the calendar. Schedule “rest” first and then everything else next. This will show your children that your family makes rest an important priority.
- Make it a date! Give each of your children the gift of quality time with just you. Find care for your other children so that you can focus on one child at a time. You might be surprise at what you learn during your time together.
- Share a family meal together! Research shows that sharing a meal is good for a family’s health and member’s self esteem. Check out the Family Dinner Project for recipes and conversation starters
- Get into a good book! Cuddle on the couch and read together. Reading aloud has many benefits including increasing attention span, building vocabulary and creating lifelong readers. Reading aloud also opens the doors for discussion about life and difficult issues.
- Go take a hike! Get outside and get moving. You may not think of exercise as rest but the benefits of exercise promotes good health, boost energy levels, improve moods, and helps with sleep. It is a great way to spend time together.