Getting locked out reminded me that some things matter more than others, and there are consequences when our priorities get out of focus.
Last weekend my neighbors held their annual March Madness chocolate chip cookie tournament. We all brought our best cookies to the table, and through a complex dance of tasting and head-to-head competition, a winner was chosen by popular choice. It’s all very epic. I like this tournament way better than the real thing. Anything that involves dessert is a good idea in my book.
I had spent some time prepping cookie dough earlier in the day, but in the craziness of the afternoon, I still hadn’t baked them as of an hour before the party. Oops. As I rushed to get cookies baked, feed the kids something that resembled dinner, convince the two-year-old (who is mid-potty training) to go to the bathroom, and get everyone out the door before the party ended, I was feeling a little frazzled.
One thing I have struggled with since becoming a parent is getting places on time. No matter how well I try to plan, I feel like we are ALWAYS late, and I hate that. That night was no exception. We were running late, and the only thing on my mind was getting to the party with my plate of cookies intact.
The weather was decent, so we decided to walk to our friends’ house, which is just a couple streets away. As we went to shut the garage door, the keypad on the outside wasn’t working right. I was annoyed, wanting to hurry, and so my husband ran back in, pushed the button on the inside and ran underneath the door as it shut.
If it had been a movie, there would have been some foreboding music and a closeup of the moment the door reached the ground, foreshadowing what was to come.
Neither of us thought about the fact that all the doors and windows were locked.
Neither of us considered that it would have been wise to grab a set of keys in case the key pad continued not to work when we returned.
Neither of us had ever–despite meaning to do so for years–hidden a spare key outside, just in case.
Nope, we were too busy thinking about cookies. But, when we returned home an hour later and realized that we were locked out of our house with our two small boys on an increasingly chilly evening, we thought about all those things quite a bit.
When we got home and realized all of the above facts, we felt so dumb. How could we have locked ourselves out of our own house? How were we going to get back in?
Thankfully, after saying a little prayer as a family, and through the kindness of several neighbors and some ingenuity on my husband’s part, we were able to get inside our house without having to break a window or call a locksmith. Hooray!
Once the kids were warmed up and snuggled into their beds that night, I found myself reflecting on the experience, imagining all of the little choices that led up to our predicament.
If only we had driven instead of walking to our friends’ house, I thought, we would have had keys as well as the garage door openers in the car.
If only we hadn’t been quite so diligent about locking everything up (on the plus side, we felt good that our house really is pretty secure from intruders–even us).
But the big “if only” was this:
If only we hadn’t been so caught up in the unimportant, immediate needs and had instead slowed down enough to recognize what was most needful.
I was so focused on getting my dumb cookies to the party that I completely ignored the more important issue of making sure we had a way to get back into the house. My immediate need was getting the garage door closed, but I was in such a rush that I didn’t take the time to think about the fact that I would need a way to get it open again.
Now, I’m not berating myself for the mistake (nobody needs that). Mistakes happen, and I’m just grateful we were able to get back inside eventually.
Still, getting locked out of the house got me thinking…how often do I do that same thing in other situations in life? How often do I get so wrapped up in all the daily to do list tasks that are staring me in the face that I forget to make time for the important things…like faith, family, and enjoying life?
It’s all too easy to “get caught up in the thick of thin things” as one of my favorite men, Neal A. Maxwell taught. Too often I choose whatever seems most immediate instead of what actually matters most. There will always be countless things vying for my time and attention, so it’s important for me to be intentional about choosing what to actually spend time on. I can’t do everything–and I don’t really want to–but sometimes it’s hard to sift through all the voices screaming at me every day (whether those voices be toddlers who want a snack or dirty dishes that have been sitting on the counter for way too long) and set my priorities properly.
I don’t have all the solutions for how to prioritize your life perfectly. I don’t even have enough confidence to say that I’ll never lock myself out of my house again. I’m human. I’m imperfect.
But I can say that getting locked out reminded me, if only for a moment, that some things matter more than others, and there are consequences when we put our focus in the wrong place.
So I’m attempting to slow down a little more. To breathe a little more. To think a little longer (or at all) about what to do next each day. Do I really need to clean the bathroom? Maybe. Or do I need to sit and play a game with my four-year-old? One or the other will not always be the right answer. But as I take a moment to actually consider the choices I make, hopefully I’ll make the right ones a little more often.
What helps you focus on your priorities in life?