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CHAPTER 17: ORDER, ENERGY AND DAILY LIFE

Although "daily life" is a rather complex subject and quite a leap from order and energy as the fundamental building blocks of the universe, I want to explore it here in hopes of making this book as useful as possible to you the reader.

Ordering One's Time

Time management is a thriving business in America today. Entire companies prosper by providing a variety of time management services and products such as seminars, executive counseling, scheduling books, project management materials, software programs and much more. The timekeeping notebook has become an executive status symbol, and the 8 1/2 by 11 inch date book with one page or more per day is a subtle way of saying, "I am so in control that I keep tabs over every minute of my day."

Of course people who carry around only tiny date books, or none at all, may accomplish far more than the highly-organized executives. You can't judge someone by the size of the date book he carries, for sure.

My point is, ordering one's time is only part of the job. Ordering one's energy is what is really important. For order and energy are indeed the building-blocks of everything in the universe.

A Dynamic Energy System

The human being is a dynamic energy system. Just give it a little food and water and it is amazing what it can do! And what does it do? It converts food into energy and uses that energy to move, work and act in the world. It can accomplish in one second with a tremendous burst of energy more than it can accomplish in hours of unfocused dawdling. When we get down to how we use our energy, we get down to our will-power.

Each of us has a finite amount of energy. Though some people seem to have much more energy than the rest of us, no one’s energy is unlimited. Muscles and minds, backs and feet and eyes get tired and need a rest. So it is very important how we use our energy, or to be more specific, how we order our energy. At the same time, it is important to realize also what a tremendous resource our energy is, and to cultivate that energy responsibly.

Ordering Your Energy

Have you thought of your daily life in terms of how you order your energy? Let's look at a few examples.

Let us call that upon which we focus our energy the object of our energy. Now this object may be another person, a spouse or friend; it may be ourselves; it may be God; it may be our job or our home, our boat or our yard, our wealth or sex or any number of things. The problem that many of us mortals face is that our energy is out of order.

An illustrative example is the physician whose wife works hard to put him though med school, then when he graduates and completes his internship and opens his practice, he places her way down on his priority list, his order of energy list. For this "out of order" doctor, his patients come first, then his medical practice, then his reputation, then his income, then his family, then his wife. This is not meant to condemn physicians as a whole – the same could be said of many different occupational groups.

This relegating of one's spouse to a lower level of order and energy is one of the prime causes of divorce today, whereby half of all marriages end. It is not done consciously in most cases, but it is done all the same by many people.

A different example is the shrewd business executive who carefully plans, bides her time, and executes one deal, working only a few hours, yet earning much more than the 60-hour-a-week frenzied small business owner. The shrewd executive has learned to focus her energy on those things with the biggest payoff. She does not feel compelled to work long hours because she knows intuitively that her challenge is not to fill her time but to order her energy on the things that matter most.

A Society Obsessed With Time

We are speaking somewhat of the difference between quality and quantity here. Our whole society is so time-fixated, so intent on cramming in as much experience or productivity as possible during our waking hours, that we often don't stop to ask ourselves, "Why am I doing this?" The old 80-20 rule, that 80 percent of the value comes from 20 percent of the work, is often true.

How bad is it? It's so bad that many people feel guilty if they don't stay busy. They are driven by an obsession to be busy. But busyness is not the same thing as good business. The more we can prioritize our options, the more we can focus our energy on the things that matter most.

Ordering Energy With God

For the Christian, the primary focus of one's energy is following God's will. What does this mean in daily life?

It means living prayerfully, not just before bedtime or upon waking, but in frequent prayerful communication with God. This prayer does not have to be spoken or even thought out in words – it's more a matter of being constantly aware of God's presence and reflecting on His will, as He has revealed it to us, and as He continues to reveal it to us, whenever we make choices or decisions.

It means following Jesus’ life as the Great Pattern for all human life, loving others and living in truth and authenticity.

It means living in God's love, which enables us to share that love with others we encounter in our daily lives. This includes our selves – not indulging ourselves, but truly loving our selves ("me") in a responsible caring way. Jesus said, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" – not "more than yourself," but "as yourself", equally. [I am indebted to Dr. Robert E. Johnston, a pastoral counselor and psychotherapist, for some of these concepts on the priority of care.]

Ordering Energy For Others

After God and one's self, who comes next in order of energy? Your immediate family, and if you are married, your spouse above all others. To live a life in order, your spouse comes before all other human beings. Your marriage was intended to last a lifetime. Much as you love and sacrifice for your children, they will grow up and leave you and "become one flesh" with their own spouses in most cases. Caring for your wife or husband is like caring for yourself – for you two have become "one flesh" and are highly interdependent. One of the best ways to make your own life happier is to focus some vital energy on the well-being of your spouse, every day.

Next comes the rest of your immediate family, then other people to whom you are closely related by blood, marriage or life.

Now, finally, you can begin to put your job or business in proper order. That is how you keep it in perspective, as second to your family. Of course working responsibly in your job is one way that you are able to take care of your family. No one is suggesting that you should necessarily quit your job or become an undependable employee. We're just saying, order your energy carefully – keep your priorities in order.

It can be very enlightening to write a priority list of all the things and people you give your energy to – first as you have been using your energy, then as you believe you should use your energy according to your values and beliefs. Be honest with yourself – no one else has to see your list.

Caring For Our Energy System

Appreciating the importance of our personal energy, we should also devote some of our energy to keeping our energy system in good order. This requires adequate sleep, good nutrition, regular exercise and healthy mental stimulation. An experience of psychotherapy can also be beneficial for many people (almost everyone, in my opinion). This is because much of our potential energy in adulthood is tied up in our subconscious defenses and internal conflicts. Only by freeing those bonds which go all the way back to childhood can we experience our full, true energy power.

The "well behaved" woman, for example, may have learned in childhood not to express her feelings of anger. Yet the treatment she receives from her spouse and her boss incite angry feelings, which she represses in her subconscious. Repression of this kind, especially of strong feelings such as anger, can tie up a great deal of personal energy and lead to depression or psychosomatic illnesses or both.

In addition to psychotherapy, it is also possible to have some of these "energy blocks" eliminated by strong religious faith. I know a successful evangelist who can function for days on only a few hours sleep, give lengthy sermons outdoors in stifling heat and humidity, travel around the world and deal with complex decisions with an energy level that seems superhuman. Even though I do not share all this evangelist’s beliefs, it is obvious that his constant closeness to God is the source of his tremendous energy, whether or not he has any subconscious energy blocks.

Energy turned in against ourselves in our subconscious can have devastating effects, such as ulcers, spastic colons, migraine headaches, cancer, even death.

But when we are freed from internal conflicts and repression, when our order is consistent throughout our minds, our hearts and our behavior, when our energy is ordered by our devotion to God, it is truly remarkable what human energy a person can have, use and enjoy.

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