Life’s Tradeoffs

Welcome! The Atlantic community is bursting with signs of spring. Red buds have fallen off tree branches and tiny leaves are pushing through. My quince glows with coral blossoms.

Unfortunately, flies, yellow jackets, and gnats have hatched. A barn swallow has determined to build a mud and weed nest above my porch light. She slops mud all over my siding day in and day out. I knock the mess off my porch light daily, but I have a nagging feeling her willpower is stronger than mine.

This makes me think about the good and bad parts of life. Life is a series of tradeoffs. Think about it. In spring, fragrant hyacinths bloom, but yellow jackets buzz. In winter, roads get icy, but mosquitoes hibernate. In summer, we get lots of daylight and warm temperatures, but the doggone grass never stops growing. In fall, leaves turn stunning crimson, gold, and tangerine hues, but the sky is gray for at least a month.

Just as there tradeoffs in every season, there are tradeoffs in seasons of life, too. When I was in grade school my responsibilities were limited. I had to clean the bathrooms on Saturdays, keep an eye on my baby brother and younger sister, and get good grades. That’s about it.

Now that I’m grown, I’m responsible for just about everything in my house. I have motherly responsibilities: I get the kids off to school, pack lunches, and cook dinner. I make sure the kids do their homework and help with housework on weekends. I drive them to doctor’s appointments and agonize through basketball and volleyball games.

I also keep house. I do the laundry and dishes, pay the bills, mow the grass, and shovel the sidewalk.

And I have to stay true to my calling as a Christian. I write a column and devotionals. I play my cornet in my church’s praise ensemble, and I teach Sunday school.

Yeah, I have a lot of responsibilities. But I have rewards, too. I have a car and house in my name. I don’t have to ask Mom and Dad for the car keys. No one can tell me when to go to bed or force me to mow my lawn until I’m good and ready. I don’t have to go to staff meetings or punch a time clock, either.

The most crucial tradeoff I made was choosing to become a stay-at-home mom instead of finishing my graduate studies. I swapped stressful classes and the dream of becoming an English professor for the chance to keep my kids at home while they were babies. I wouldn’t reverse that decision for anything.

We still have two months of school, then summer break starts. During the school year I have to cope with homework, sports, and overscheduling, but I have seven hours to write, walk, and study the Bible. During the summer, I don’t have any school-related stress, but I have to fight to defend my devotional and writing time.

Again, life is a series of tradeoffs. I guess the trick is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to gain something more fulfilling. Only you can determine what that is. Maybe you’re considering exchanging a high-paying job for more time with your children. Swapping a short commute for the chance to live closer to your aging parents might be nagging you. Or maybe your doctor gave you a choice: either you start substituting water for Mountain Dew and chicken breast for buffalo wings or start taking medication.

No matter your tradeoff, please don’t leap before you look. If you’re considering making changes in your life, prayer is key. Ask God what he wants you to do before you make any decisions. He will give you the wisdom you need.

Fallowfield United Methodist is hosting an old-fashioned hymn sing on Sunday, April 30, at 6:30 p.m. Mark your calendar and come sing with us. You’ll get to sing old favorites. If you or your group would like to perform, please call Allen or Joyce Jacobs at (814) 382-3124.

Have a wonderful week. Blessings!