Recently, my friend said that her children were lamenting the amount of family time spent doing church related activities. She wondered, did I think this was a valid objection? Well, being asked for my opinion is instant dopamine and it’s tempting to think I can offer a quick, brilliant assessment.
I know full well that being a parent is the most important job we have. When our kids are upset, it feels worse than a poor performance review at work. As I turned it over in my mind, I realized she was actually reaching out for connection from a fellow woman in the trenches of motherhood. This is something I can offer.
Maybe you can relate to her situation, even if you aren’t in the ministry. We parents all carry a weight on our shoulders. Making ends meets, beating deadlines, crunching time to fulfill obligations – infinite commitments and finite hours. If we don’t constantly balance the scales, it can turn into mayhem that leaves the family frazzled and on the edge of disconnect. Even if our kids aren’t complaining, there can be a voice in our heads already accusing us of failing.
Honestly, there was a few years in my life where this voice prattled on and on, unchecked. It was when my health crashed that I finally stopped to give my life an honest, critical review. The results were grim: I had all the ingredients for a joyous life but was not taking notice, not planning to do anything with it. I was busy going through the paces instead of imagining the possibilities.
The root issue was simple: my priorities were out of whack. I wasn’t listening first to what my heart and my family really wanted, which was: time, time, time. I began to join Steve in slowing down, saying no, and backing out. For us, this was the best solution. It brought joy to our family, and it made our relationships more loving and joyful.
Now if I hear that voice, instead of squashing it down in shame, I hold a mental court. What’s the truth, really?
I conduct My Own Performance Review:
- Does it feel like our family times are reasonably often? Steve and I decided not to just have kids but to build a family life together. Our future happiness and their success is pinned on how well we tend to this goal. We set a precedence that when we are all home and done with school or work, it’s family time.
- Secondly, is this just a season? Sometimes this is the case for our family, usually one we can see coming on the calendar. We formulate a game plan, make sure the kids are on board, and band together like the team we are. We guard the quiet time we do get with each other and remember to rest together when it concludes.
- Lastly, what did the last three family nights look and feel like? A healthy family is relaxed and open with one another, free to fully engage. Was the TV on? Our crew really enjoys documentaries (nerds!) but it’s like a board game – everyone participates or it’s pointless. Since we travel with a band, there are weeks our family is in church a few times. It’s enjoyable, essential even. But in my opinion, it’s not intimate enough to count as family time. Every moment together doesn’t exactly have to be face-to-face. There is joy in just occupying the same space, but that dissipates if we aren’t maintaining heart connections through conversation, laughter, and shared memories.
A Necessary Process
I’m not sure what my friend decided. I just know now that honest evaluation doesn’t hurt; it’s nothing to be afraid of. I treasure the day I stopped running from the truth. I’m glad I saw the contrast between our family vision and my course of action. The quality of our lives as a family has gone way up. We’ve taken more risks and found adventures, made many memories, and definitely laughed a lot. I am passionate that every single family out there would discover this goldmine.