“Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass” -Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Simple Man”
There’s no time like the present to be fully present in the lives of those we love.
I saw a post on Facebook recently, an article link about “what men really think about.” After reading it, I realized that most of the normal “man thoughts” didn’t really describe me. My mind was consumed by one thing, logistics. I think my wife could possibly have an overload of logistical thoughts as well.
There is a silent danger in busy lifestyles to have our present thoughts consumed by thoughts of “what’s next”. Who needs to be where at what time? How will I get everything done? How will I deal with ____ problem tomorrow? How will I fix problems at work? How will I carve out future time with my family? How will we pay for college (for 4)? In what areas do my kids need guidance or redirection?
You get the picture. The mind is distracted from the present. Compound this with the tendency to have over-filled schedules, running quickly from place to place, event to event, and you eventually risk living a life that lacks depth. Healthy interactions are replaced by an urgency to maintain schedules and show up on time.
Eventually, we miss too much of the present because we are distracted by an unhealthy urgency to maintain what’s next.
I’m not suggesting that we live safe, idle lives out of fear of overload. We should always be willing to consider doing more than we consider ourselves capable of doing, for the purpose of developing faith in God, and a reliance on His strength and not our own.
But just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should do it. Recognize when life becomes too much and too fast. Our level of distraction when interacting with loved ones is a good measure of this.
My son Kal has a great love for his three dogs. Of our four children, he is the first to actually follow through on the promise of, “if I can have a puppy, I will take care of it.”
When I got out of bed for church on Sunday morning, Kal was nowhere to be found in the house. He was already outside playing with his dogs. By the time he came in and got dressed for church and got his breakfast, we were nearing the point of running late for church. Being late isn’t a big deal to me, but since I had a class to teach, I at least wanted to not be late late.
His mother and sister had already left, but I realized his big brother was still in bed. But just as I started to go roust big brother from his slumber, Kal launched excitedly into a tale of something his puppy Zelda had done earlier in the morning. I wasn’t the least bit interested in hearing this story. And we really needed to get moving to get to church on time.
But there was a gentle nudge inside me as I looked down and saw the excitement on his face as he talked…….just as I was ready to tell him to tell me later because “we gotta go”.
This is Important to him. Today and forever…….to have his dad’s full attention and to place value on his words.
“Look him in the eyes and listen to every word he says, like it is the most important thing you will hear all day”.
This is the thought that crashed into my brain. So I listened. And I’m sure that those two minutes that I almost lost because I was RUSHING to be somewhere on time, represented the most valuable two minutes of my whole day.
Simply being present in the present. Getting something right that I’ve gotten wrong hundreds of times before.
If it’s important enough for our kids to talk to us about (or ask questions about), then it’s important enough for parents to give full attention to and provide answers.
Distracted parenting means we aren’t watching or listening like we should. Value the words of your children. Be attentive enough to see opportunities for praise and encouragement (and correction if necessary).
When parents stop listening, kids stop talking. When kids stop talking, parents lose a big part of their ability to have a continued positive impact in the lives of their growing children.
Plan ahead but don’t let your thoughts stay in the future. Live a full life, but don’t let your schedules dictate your life. And perhaps most importantly, it may be time to make changes in your life when your level of distraction and overload causes you to miss the little moments in the days of your children…………that become collectively huge moments when you miss them.