There is a list a million miles long of things to do, all of them vying for my attention.
At the top of course, my children and family, but other things that affect them are crowding just below.
*The food I feed them. Is it safe, genetically modified, sprayed with pesticides (the dirty dozen), fair trade?
*The clothes they wear. Did they come second hand, or from a brand that values their workers? Were they made in the USA?
*The things I use to clean my house, the laundry soap, and the dishwashing detergent. All of these are chemicals, but are they safe, organic and good for my family and the earth?
And what about the gospel? Can I just chuck all of this out and say, what matters is if people know freedom in Jesus? But didn't Jesus call us to care for the least of these? And the people who work in the fields and labor over our clothes in inhumane conditions, aren't they the least of these?
Pick any one of those things above and you could easily have a full time job campaigning for reform, researching the best companies, making sure you only do business with the most ethical and green companies.
Then there are things like beauty, aesthetics, and pleasure. I like to paint, read, photograph and scrapbook. Is it a waste of my resources to spend hours painting murals on my children's walls if that could be used elsewhere? Does it matter that my children love to show off their bedroom to any guests that come? Does it matter that I have created beauty here if those resources could have been used to pull someone else out of poverty and despair?
What are we supposed to do?
Here's what I think I've finally realized. We, as humans, and especially as Christians, are called to be stewards of the people and the earth around us. But for each of us that looks a little different.
For me (with my chemistry background) it means being aware and proactive about the chemicals that are around us, be that in our food, cleaning products, or body products. (some of the reasons why)
Does that mean that the rest of it isn't important? Not a chance! And I do try to be as aware as I possibly can (thanks Lindsay!), but I simply cannot invest all my resources trying to solve all the problems at the same time. I have to pick one.
I think this is true for each of us. We have to pick the causes that we can make a difference in and let someone else work on their cause. We can support each other while not looking down on someone else just because they think something else is more important. We can share our knowledge around so that we all don't have to do the research individually.
Today I shared about the EWG's Skin Deep database with another mom in Target. Someone I didn't even know, but we were both looking at the baby skin care products and I just couldn't help NOT sharing!
Sometimes I still feel like I'm chasing after nothing because this world will one day be gone and we will no longer be here. But I am reminded that Jesus cared about more than just the future. He cared about the here and now of the people he was with. He provided them with healing and food - temporal things - while ministering to their hearts. You can't have one without the other.
And so I will continue to advocate that we care for the earth and our bodies. That we care for the temporal needs of those in other countries as well as their spirits.
This year at our church's missions weekend we had a speaker from The Eden Projects. The people who work with this organization are mainly Christians, but it's not a Christian organization. It's a group of people who believe that caring for the earth by reforesting the land will yield long term care of the people who live there. It's an amazing organization and you really should check it out!
We will be putting some of our "time" - money into supporting this organization. But it doesn't mean you have to, it's just one of the options.
So, what are the Most Important Things? They are the things that are laid on your heart to show care to those around you, your neighbors next door and on the other side of the world. And it will look different for you than it does for me.