A year ago, I became more aware of troubling issues in my home. It seemed there was never a moment of peace with my children, and I could not get anything done. I began to evaluate the situation, and it broke my heart enough to finally make a change. As much as I'd like to consider it something else, I was living selfishly. As awful as it sounds, I believed my children were in my way instead of part of my way. I examined my agenda, my goals,and yes, my dreams. One by one, I found a way to streamline what is most important to me, and though it was incredibly painful, I let go of the rest for the sake of my family. I was simply doing to much. For example, I cut down on exercise time. I stopped calling and hanging out with dear friends. I seriously limited attendance to interesting support groups, conferences and workshops. My standard answer to "Will you lead or be part of this project?" even though I'm the perfect one for the job is "No, ask me next year." It is next year, and the answer is still mostly "No", because my children would suffer. They need focused attention and time being enjoyed by their mother, not the lie of quality time. I've noticed my husband also cutting back and being with the children in a child centered way as well though his work keeps him more than busy.
I wonder how much people think, "What a shame, True. You'll lose yourself if you don't take care of you first. What will be left of you when your children leave?" But the truth is, I haven't lost any of myself. The more I press into intentionality with my children and husband, the more I become the person I've always wanted to be. Less grumpy and irritable, though there are certainly days I'm horrid. Less stressed. Less judgemental. Less of a task master. If I'm not always in a rush to get somewhere for myself, there's no cause for being short tempered with my family. I hear folks proclaim, "I don't have time to relax." Honestly, too much "me time" did not create relaxation. It created more stress on everyone.As for the question, "What will be left of me when my children leave our home?" I believe I'll be a person I can love without so very many relational regrets.
The bottom line is that I still do the things I love but with greater purpose- I write, train, garden,read, create, hike, dance, and teach- though with less frequency.
Here's a quote I read this morning which sums up my thoughts.
We need to be humble enough to admit that we tend to be "problem allergic" because we tend to live selfishly rather than redemptively. We want regularity, peace, comfort, and ease. We want to be predictable and unencumbered. the problems that our teenagers (I'd say any children) bring home are an intrusion on our desires and plans for our lives. We tend to get angry, not because they are messing up their own lives, but because they are messing up ours. We get captivated by our own plan, and we tend to lose sight of God's. We begin to think of our children as agents for our happiness, rather than remembering that we are called to be God's agents of growth in godliness for them. So in times of trouble, we angrily fight for our dream instead of happily doing God's work. If we are ever consistently going to see problems as opportunities, we need to begin with humble confession of our selfishness to the Lord.Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp