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Priori-Tea (pri·or·i·ty)

Secure the bag, sis! Get 'dem coins, miss! Where the money resides! Everywhere we turn these days, it's all about the Benjamins baby. It's no wonder when the word' priority arises, the first thing that comes to mind is 'the budget.' While that's all good and well, I believe that your relationship with money reveals a lot about what you prioritize most in life. What you spend money on first usually indicates who or what has your heart.

I recently heard a sermon snippet where the preacher was listing things in your body that you could live without. I'd never really given it that much thought simply because we see so many people around us functioning without certain extremities. I mean, that in and of itself shows that life is very doable without some stuff.

That made me conclude priorities are not always determined by what's most important on the list but by knowing what you can do without. However, neither of these two extremes can be understood or achieved without discipline and self-control.

I remember being off to school in 2007, and for the first time ever, I quickly realized, "I have the right to do anything," but not everything is beneficial." (1 Corinthians 10:23) I had to implement the want versus need scale, posthaste. This, of course, coming from a chick who had just rid herself of 100 pairs of shoes, 50 handbags and drank lattes every day. How on earth could I now toggle between 5 pairs of shoes, two handbags and instant homemade coffee (I think I just threw up a little in my mouth)? How do I now resist the urge to spend impulsively?

I had to reconcile within myself when I walked into a store and ogled over an item, "Do I want this or do I need this?" I knew all too well how easy it was to talk myself into needing something I only wanted—use it twice, then forget all about it. Unfortunately for me, there were no parents back at the crib to replenish the reserve at will. That said, I was shook, how fast I found myself forgoing things I swore I could never live without.

(Cue Micheal Bolton's How am I supposed to live without you) It's like when we tell people we can't live without them, or we don't know what we'd do if they left (insert roll eye emoji). Is that really the case, though? Truth is, if they are not your oxygen supply or responsible for your heart contractions or brain activity, you'll survive. I know, it's difficult wrapping your mind around not having something that became somewhat of an appendage but hey, months after not seeing or talking to thingamabob, it gets a little easier to do without—trust me!

I mean, after you've given up something for Lent, do you really need to go back to it? Or is it that you spent the last 40 days just thinking about it, so much so that your craving and desire only increased? Here's the thing, what consumes your thoughts will eventually control your life, period!

Priority comes down to choices—making a succession of decisions. By virtue of its definition (the fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more important), figuring out what's a priority should really be a no-brainer. Like why would you buy a purse knowing full well there's no food at the house? Or why go shopping when you know your car payment is due? Sounds simple enough, right—deciding which thing is more important? But can I tell you, me, like many of you, at some point, I had my priorities more mixed up than jambalaya. I looked cute, and my hair was slain, but boy, was I hungry, with my car on "E."

Dating, ironically, showed me firsthand how people prioritize differently. I learned you'll never take precedence to a man with children. I'm talking a real father, not the fly-by-night; I didn't get my check this week, I couldn't call cause I ran out of minutes, ones. Career-driven men have tunnel vision, and more often than not, you're gonna be placed on the back burner. Now, when he makes it, if, by chance, you're still together, I hope you were somewhere upping your game too, cause now this dude can have his pick of the litter.

A man who still believes he's, as Bennie Man would say, the girl's dem suga will only frustrate you. Because he's more consumed with the idea of still having 'it' than he is with having 'it' under control. And finally, if by some weird twist of faith you end up with a mama's boy, take your 'L' love; mum knows about everything, and she's really the one calling all the shots. Like they say in the streets, if he's not your husband, don't take any of this on.

I learned a lesson in priority from Mary and Martha—the sisters of Lazarus (you know, the one raised from the dead)—all three siblings being friends with Jesus.

Jesus popped by their house one day, as friends would do. Poor Mary, bless her heart, sat with Jesus the whole time listening intently to all He had to say. Meanwhile, Martha was being extra, trying to be the hostess with the mostest! Just working hard for the 'Jesus People's Choice Award!'

I don't know if it was her being salty or annoyed, but Martha went off on Jesus like, "Sir, so you can't see it's just me doing all the work while Mary is just lollygagging then?"

I imagine His response was classy savagesprinkled with that Jesus swag: "Martha, oh Martha, calm down, sis. You running too much tape and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing and one thing only matters at this moment, and Mary has chosen it—respectfully." (see Luke 10:38-42)

The story made me think of all the times I busied myself with the life goals and aspirations of some fella. I mean, I would put what I wanted aside to cheer dudes on. From meetings here to picking up the slack there, that I didn't even realize my goals were somewhere on a to-do list catching dust and being accomplished by others. I'm not advocating that you don't support ya man, but refer back to the street's slogan and ask yourself, "...but is he, my husband, though?" I'm just saying if you ain't gat a marriage licence, don't be doing all that. And while none of them forced any of these choices on me, it simply means my priorities as a single chick was in the wrong place.

The number of times I reneged on my church leadership obligations because I deemed date night more important is just embarrassing. I won't even shout about the times I put off a personal responsibility because I had to get them the just because gift. The sad part is all that sacrifice, and I'm still checking Miss on my application forms. Please don't do it, you'll. It ain't worth it!

Okay, so maybe that's not your story, but what about the hours you spend binge-watching McSteamy and McDreamy? I'll tell ya one thing, Patrick Demsey's and your bank accounts are not created equal. Or how many hours are you gonna keep doomscrolling and trolling, watching someone else's flex, wondering how they achieved 'that' and not you? The late Myles Munroe said his mother would often tell him, if he kept watching television, he'd never be on it. I mean, if you know, you know.

There are levels to this priority game. At each stage in your life, what you hold in high regard will shift. What's important to me today wasn't what I valued at 20. And what matters to me today will change when I'm 60. At every phase, though, the trick is to focus on what matters most at that moment. But you'll need to know the difference between their priorities and your priorities. And if you're married, then it's our priorities.

Listen, listing God first in your bio on social media is not the same as putting Him first in real life. Saying my family comes first, but putting social time before them is you living in denial. Saying you're focused on your dreams and goals on a well-structured vision board is counterproductive if any ole distraction can dissuade you.

I promise, if you take a look at all the things you have, put that against a list of what you actually make use of, you'll know precisely what you can do without—and this goes for relationships too. Going forward, implement this simple equation; if it's not adding, then it's subtracting, and if it's not multiplying, then it's dividing. Remember: “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”Johann Wolfgang

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