November 11, 2020
Before coming to Big Sandy, the organization I worked for was struggling. As a result, my job had stretched to cover work left undone by folks who had been laid off or whose hours had been cut. I was often working six and seven day weeks. At times, I worked 12 hour days. Because I was a salaried employee, I could fill in gaps where needed. This persisted for months. I eventually reached a point where I was always tired and all of my hobbies and outside of work activities fell to the wayside. I don’t blame my employer, and I was happy to fill in to make things work. In addition, I was going to seminary. One day, I recognized that I had reached a point where my best energy and time was going to my job. My young daughter was seeing me less and less. My wife and I were spending less and less time together. Eventually, I had to decide if I was ok with my family getting the leftovers after work and school were done. When I put in my resignation, I had accumulated enough vacation that I was able to take a month off and still receive a payout for several weeks of unused days. Since then, I have tried my hardest to make sure to guard my time and energy so that my wife and kids would get a quality share of me. I still work hard, but they need and deserve part of my life. My struggles in this area are not unique. This is a challenge for any adult in relationships in our culture. Work, entertainment, and all sorts of other junk demand our time. It’s very tempting to steal time/energy we owe to those who depend on us in order to give it to others. It’s easy to work long hours so we don’t have anything left for playing with our our kids. It’s easy to stare at our smartphone rather than pay attention to our kids while they try to show us some neat new trick they learned. Right now, it’s easier to pour our emotional energy into the crazy political climate than to invest our hearts into our marriages. So many people have reached a point in life where they are so wrung out, angry, depressed, stressed, or obsessed with other junk that they can’t give their families anything but the stale leftovers. The crazy thing is that our families will be with us over the long haul. The current outrage, Facebook drama, season of work, or whatever else is sucking up our time and energy will be gone and forgotten in a month. I would also add that our relationship with God often gets the leftovers from everything else. These are tragic realities. I don’t think most folks do it on purpose. It just sort of happens. There is a great deal of wisdom in looking at the order of our priorities and figuring out who or what is getting our best. It might be the case that we need to make sure we get home on time to eat dinner with the family. We may need to turn off the tv and play in the yard with the kids. Perhaps it’s time to leave the smartphone on the charger in the other room while we talk to each other. Maybe we can let the politics of the day take care of itself while we take care of our loved ones. There is only so much time and energy given to each of us. We must use it wisely or risk wasting ourselves on things that will not stand the test of time.