My wife deserves a great husband and I don't want her to get another one. My son deserves a great Dad and he can't go get another one.
Like me, you may have many, many responsibilities, titles, projects and happenings going on year-round or maybe it comes and goes for you - your busyiness is extra crazy just in a certain season for you. Some seasonal outdoor workers get to slow down or take advantage of having some extra days off as the snow and cold approaches. Others of us ramp up towards the end of the year: year end meetings, taking clients to dinner, next years department goals, maybe getting a head start on business taxes, work parties, church parties, charity holiday gatherings, gatherings with friends & neighbors, ordering and mailing Christmas cards, extra family activities such as Christmas light seeing or ice skating, volunteering, gift shopping, Christmas programs and of course breakfast with Santa. This comes along with the norm: 8-12 hour a day job duties, going to kids ball games & performances, taking kids to events, vehicle maintence, cooking dinner, laundry, cleaning house, paying bills, etc. Isn't it no wonder that health studies show that the final eight weeks of the year can be burdensom?
The list above has some fun things, some honorable activities, some are just life's stuff, and many are good things or lead to good times - but are they the best things? Do good things in life keep you from the best things in life? Being honest, I have to say, "yes-I have been guilty of letting a whole lot of good things trump the best things for me". For various reasons, such as anger, seeking affirmation and people pleasing - I struggled to set boundaries to protect myself from burnout. I neglected rest, stillness, peace, quiet, love, family, friends, so that I could over-work, over-volunteer, help those outside my inner circle. God and my family received my leftovers: the little time I had left over for them - you know come home late, tired, hungry, sore, grouchy, running on "E". Then I'd ask God: "please help me do it all over again tomorrow cause right now I'm drained." Those I loved most received the least from me: time, love, affirmation, joy, etc.
Pastor Bill Hybels has preached to Willow Creek Community Church several times and at least the last couples years, on the importance of our calendar. Those sermons are full of great nuggets, but Bill's overall and bottom line point is: "Our calendar should reflect who we want to become, rather than what we want to get done." If I want to gain a degree- school becomes a priority on my calendar. If I want to richen a certain relationship with a friend - I put their name on my calendar. If I want to become wise - reading books goes on my calendar. If I want to become more loving - church, counseling and reading may go on my calendar. Get the point?
So, who do you want to be? Maybe you are already there, and if you are that's great! I suspect many of us are more like me and aren't quite there yet. As a husband and a Dad, I want to do those two things great. Not perfect, but I want to give my all. I want to give my best towards being the best husband and father I can be. My wife deserves a great husband and I don't want her to go get another one, and my son deserves a great Dad and he can't go get another one. On my deathbed I want to be able to look back and say, "I didn't start out great, but with God's help I turned it around and then I gave them my best."
In a near-future blog post, I will share a guide to help spouses and parents in being more intentional in loving their family well. From my experiences and discussions, most of us go through life without a plan of who we want to be or who we want to become. We focus much more on what we want to accomplish instead. And in life, when we get down to it - who we are or who we become is much more important than what we do. And I cannot think of anything better to impact ourselves and our world that being or becoming a great spouse and a great parent.
Chris & Jenn live in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. They were high school sweethearts, marrying in 2001. They are parents to one son, Luke (born November 1999) and two loving pups: Miley & Elsie.