“I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.” Proverbs 8:17 (NIV)
Why do I expect more out of myself than my children? I don’t mean maturity wise. I should, and do, expect more out of myself in that arena, although some days I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle. But in the area of balance… why do I expect to be able to balance my family/ministry/work life perfectly; yet, give my kids grace when theirs is constantly changing?
That’s the way life works… priorities and schedules and commitments constantly shift and it’s our job to learn how to flow with it or else we end up stressed and overwhelmed about something that will never stop. For someone who likes to be in control, that’s a hard lesson to learn and stick with.
I was reminded of my friend’s conversation with me about her feelings of failure for forgetting an important event in her child’s life when I myself struggled with the decision to make memories with my kids or finish up work for the week so we could make more memories over the weekend, work free.
Our oldest has a college night class, so he and his dad have a standing date driving back and forth and are gone all evening. That leaves me at home with the younger two and every Thursday I eagerly anticipate a chance to spend a relaxing evening with them. I envision either snuggling up on the couch with popcorn for dinner, comfy sweats and a fun movie, or an electronic free evening reading books together… finishing their chores early, homework done and our youngest getting in bed on time for once.
However, reality for the past few months has been: I’m stuck on the computer finishing up “just one more assignment,” while reminding nicely at first and then with an ever increasing volume to be heard above the music blaring and dog barking and siblings laughing to “get your chores done, get in the bathtub… and what about your homework?” Soon, in walks my husband and oldest and our little is up way past his bedtime. My poor husband doesn’t even question it anymore… that’s how long it’s been happening. I cringe, knowing that I should’ve pushed away from the computer hours ago to spend meaningful time with them, but didn’t. I’m left feeling exhausted, guilty and overwhelmingly like a failure yet another week.
However, the truth is: There’s a reason behind my working extra hours. Things are shifting in my jobs so I’ve taken on more responsibility setting things up to hopefully in the long run help both jobs run more smoothly. I’m also working extra hours now so that I can look forward to a few days off with pay over the Thanksgiving holiday, total downtime without being on the computer at all, making memories with the family.
Does this occur every night? No… most evenings I’m able to leave the computer early, checking emails once or twice more and then leaving things until the morning to deal with again. Our kids serve with me once a week at our church, we have family dinner with my in-laws one night a week, and for many, not all, Friday nights, I’m serving alongside two of our kids in the school concession stand listening to the third play percussion. Weekends are spent, for the most part, away from the computer as we tackle bigger jobs around the house that need extra hours or we plan something fun together as a family. So while I would love to spend extra one on one time bonding with just two while my husband and our oldest is away, I have that chance on Saturday mornings when our husband takes one of the three on a rotating one-on-one date. I choose to work during the week so I can have that time on the weekends, with the occasional change of plans.
I want to encourage everyone today. Never will our lives look perfectly balanced. As long as we keep our focus on the important things: Always God first, then our spouse, then our children, then extended family, work, ministry and friends (all on the same line), God will help keep the scales balanced for us. Our kids are more understanding of the late hours when they see that sometimes we push away from our work or put it away so that they are the focus of our attention.
Just like with my friend the other day – when we make sure our kids know we will be there for them when they truly need us, they are understanding about the times our lives are a little out of balance here and there as life gets in the way of what’s truly important.
I try and remember to ask God to stay in charge of my schedule each day because then and only then do I realize if my schedule gets sidetracked, I’m right where God wants me, even if it’s the opposite of what I had originally planned.
© Cheri Swalwell 2016