When I was a young adult, I lived at home for a time while I was working at a church nearby. (I don’t remember if the story I am about to tell happened shortly before Jamey and I were married, or if it was while he was in Korea. Not that it matters to anyone but me. The point is simply that I was an “adult” of sorts.) One day I came home to have my dad share a story from his day. It went something like this:
I was out on a bike ride and when I was a good distance away from home, I had trouble with my bike. [I think it was a flat tire?] After much hardship, I was finally nearing home. [I get a little of my humor and dramatics from my dad, so he would have gone into hilarious detail about the hardship he had faced.] I was exhausted from the heat and exertion required to make it back on my broken bike, then suddenly I saw a beautiful sight. A familiar car approaching…my savior, coming to bring me the rest of the way home! The car passed me by, but I knew that was okay. Surely it is just going to turn around to pull up behind me. Except, wait….the car just kept going. And going. And going. Never to come back for me. But, don’t worry. I eventually made it back home before death got me. Even though that blue toyota corolla just kept going and going….
Have you figured out that I was the driver of the car that passed my dad by? The sad thing is that while it kind of registered to me that there was a biker walking his bike on the side of the road, I didn’t have any idea that it was someone with a broken bike. I didn’t have any idea that it was someone in need–much less, my own father! (And, no, I still haven’t lived this down!) I had been on my way to work, in my own little world, not really thinking about anyone else. Because of that, the opportunity to help out someone that I loved completely passed me by. Worse yet, no one did stop to help my dad, so he had to get back to the house on his own. (Thankfully, this was more of an inconvenience then anything as he wasn’t injured.) Having known my father my whole life, there was no reason why I shouldn’t have recognized him! And, I would have, had I simply been paying closer attention to those around me.
I thought about that the other day because I am hoping that I learned a lesson from it. You see, I have entered into a very busy season. I have so much on my “to do” list, that it is quite impossible to get everything done! While I have been trying to make sure that I keep the “important things” at the top of the list–does that even matter if I am not present while I am doing them?
My children are depending on me to recognize where they are at, what needs they have, what is going on around me. And, while I am not an invincible superhero who can do everything, I also can’t use that as an excuse to be oblivious to what is going on around me. I may not be able to meet every need, but I can make sure that my children know I am engaged when I am with them. I can be sure that I am aware of what is happening in their lives, and respond appropriately. This can sometimes be one of the most challenging, and yet easiest things to do.
Why is it challenging? Because it means that you have to stop thinking about…well, yourself. Stop thinking about that “to do” list, the challenges facing you at work, the demands other relationships are placing on you, etc. Purpose to put all of that out of your mind. (And, certainly, put that phone / computer / work away for a bit! It will be there when you come back!)
Why is it easy? Because it actually doesn’t take that much time or effort. Putting everything aside so you can read a story or play a game with your child doesn’t demand very much from you. Taking extra time to tuck them in, catch up on their day, ask questions (and really listen to the answers!) about things that are happening with them, is not asking for a lot. And, once you do it, you will find that your heart gets filled up just like theirs does!
Far too often people wondered what happened in their relationship with their child[ren], looking for some huge cataclysmic event, when the reality was that there were far too few “small” moments of actual heart engagement. It can be so easy to get busy and caught up in the “tyranny of the urgent”. The good news is that it is just as easy to make the choice to step away from it.
I did that tonight. I had a busy day and a hundred things still to do. So, do you know what I did? After dinner, I laid on the floor while Reegan crawled all over me and read Chapter Two in Mandie and the Cherokee Legend with the all the kids. Do you know what? Nothing got crossed off of my “to do” list tonight. And, that is okay.
If you haven’t lately, I hope you very soon have a night where nothing gets done on your list either. May our children always feel noticed, loved and like they are at the top of our lists!
Read more at www.joyfilledhome.org!