“Mom, Dad never has time to do stuff with me any more”.
Pretty sobering words relayed to me by my wife from my 8 year old son. I responded in typical male fashion- defense mode, “I know, but I just can’t help it right now. There’s nothing I can do about it”.
New International Version (NIV)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Life to the full. What’s that supposed to look like for a follower of Christ? Eternity is a long time. Point our eyes toward heaven and do something while we are here and do it well. We’re not on this earth long enough to sit still or to wallow in mediocrity.
I can’t offer the perfect formula for balance in life. Like a training athlete, we have to be willing to push ourselves and to be pushed. We can take on such an overwhelming load that God’s presence and strength obviously carries us through, and our faith grows. Or we can fly around wildly, over-promising ourselves and under-including God and littering our world with a whole lotta C- efforts…..just getting by. Maybe this is the way that many of us truly develep our trust in God, by failing and seeing more clearly our dependence on Him. It’s the logical next step that comes after “I’m about to have a complete beakdown. I can’t handle this”. Either way, we learn of the importance of seeking His will and His strength and trusting Him more each step along the way.
Life to the full. Wife and four kids. Demanding job managing a family business. Involved in church leadership and teaching Sunday school. Coaching middle school basketball and Upward basketball. Two daughters in high school track, cross-country, and soccer. Doing laundry at 2am to make sure everybody has clean uniforms and underwear for the next day. Certainly not taking advantage of all my opportunities but certainly not sitting still.
BOOM! A lifetime of suffering with migraine headaches is taken away. My basketball coaching load is taken away. I have TIME. I have prolonged clarity of thought for the first time in my life. Clarity told me that I’ve been working 40 hours a week at a 65 hour a week job for the last 15 years in an effort to raise children that make a difference in this world (definitely not something I regret, but something that has left a stinky trail of mediocrity in its path). So I’m not only tackling today’s problems with energy and focus, I’m backtracking and fixing yesterday’s problems, and preventing tomorrow’s problems. Sure, now is the best time to do this. It’s ok to work 60-65 hour weeks NOW.
“Dad never has time to do stuff with me now”
“There’s nothing I can do about it”
TRUTH. When we are where God wants us to be, doing the things that He desires for us to do, He provides a way. Satan provides excuses and we can’t wait to grab them and use them. Most likely, the responsible thing for me to do in the short-term is to continue to work extended hours while I have the focus and energy to fix the results of my years of neglect. But as far as finding time to do things with my youngest son, I can do something about it besides make excuses. Claiming to be “tired” in the evenings is not an option. Plan something and do it. And don’t pawn off “dad duties” on mom or big brother.
And that brings me to the greatest point in this long and winding story. When we are faithful (and apparently even when we are just somewhat faithful but willing to admit our failure) God provides a way. When you are living for God, and there just doesn’t seem to be enough of you to go around as a dad (or a mom), He provides a way to fill in the gaps. Special people……grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, coaches, youth ministers are there to provide that special something. When that little voice in your head says, “I can’t do it all”, don’t give up. Do your best and trust Him with the rest. Obviously I can try harder as a parent, but I can see clearly now how God has filled in the gaps with an awesome mom and older brother.
My 3 great lessons for the week:
1) It’s not acceptable to make excuses for not having or making time for our kids. Plan it. Do it.
2) Where I have shortcomings as a father, I am so thankful these shortcomings seem to be perfectly offset and overcome by the strengths of my wife. In the case Kal, our 8 year-old son, I’m thankful the God gave him the best mom in the world to do the exact things that I have failed to do (like teach him to ride a bike).
3) Kal is truly blessed to have a big brother that takes care of him when the responsibilities of life call mom and dad in other directions. Saturday, it was truly like seeing up close, the hand of God at work, as Kal’s 14 year-old brother selflessly devoted his entire day (and night) to playing with, entertaining, teaching, and patiently listening to his little brother. He takes care of his little brother, not because he’s been instructed to but because he wants to. That’s not a normal teenage boy thing. That’s a “what God’s love looks like” thing. And it’s pretty cool to see when you aren’t really expecting it.
I can’t do it all. But I don’t have to. But I still have to try. And I have to trust. And mediocrity is not acceptable.