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Rocks In Your Jar

Have you heard that old illustration of rocks in a mason jar? It goes something like this: Your life is a jar. The rocks you put in the jar are things that take up your time and energy. Some are big rocks, like your job or your family. Some are small rocks, like hobbies and vacations. And some are basically sand — the little things that are necessary, but take up all the little moments in your life: Email, grocery shopping, answering texts, social media, and whatnot. 

The point of the illustration is that if you put the sand in first — if you prioritize the little things — you won’t be able to fit the big rocks in. But if you put the big rocks in first, you can fill in the extra space with small rocks and, eventually, sand. 

It’s an illustration about priorities; don’t fill your jar with sand. Prioritize your family first, rather than answering emails all day long, or wasting time on Instagram.

Overall, I think this is a helpful illustration on how we spend our time. But it’s missing one key element: it doesn’t take into consideration the rocks that go into our jar without our choosing. The whole point of the illustration is to choose the big rocks first; prioritize the right things. It assumes everything is a choice. But if your spouse is diagnosed with cancer, well, that’s a pretty big rock that goes in your jar whether you like it or not — and it takes up a lot of space.

Prioritization is important, but what I want to remind you about today is the rocks you didn’t choose. They take up space. They take up time. They take up energy. Have you ever just felt tired for no reason? Exhausted, and you don’t know why? Look at your jar. What rocks are in there that you aren’t acknowledging? Because sometimes, when we’ve got these rocks we didn’t choose, we like to pretend they’re not there. We like to pretend we can keep going along just as if nothing’s changed — then we’re surprised when we feel tired, sad, stressed, or angry.

Acknowledge all the rocks in your jar. Give yourself grace and be realistic with the actual space you have — you can’t cram in more just because you want to. You only have so much energy. So be wise, and above all, gracious — for both yourself and your partner.