Family Time Needs To Win Over My Time

I need to stand up for a precious gift that too often gets overlooked

One of the things that I have realized is so precious is my time. What has been eye-opening recently is that my time is not my own.

Our family camping trip in Yosemite in 2011

Our family camping trip in Yosemite in 2011

Sure, I have sections of it in the day that are specifically for me: my morning prayer, writing and exercise; my commute to work.

But  time in my home is also my family’s time. The time when I get to (not “have to”) share myself with my wife Kate and our sons.

There are many things trying to pull me away from that. My work,my career transition, all the crazy thoughts, ambitions and dreams rolling around in my head.

I have to keep the important things important. I have to make a stand. There’s been a slow shift in our culture that seems to not respect personal time or family time. Emails or phone calls or overtime.

I read an interesting article about the challenging environment at Amazon that encourages completely diving into work. Some fathers at Amazon said they considered quitting because of pressure from bosses to spend less time with their families.

I don’t think I’ve got a problem with that. Our lives are meant to be well rounded and full. It’s not about working ourselves to the brink of a nervous breakdown to get more money or to stave off a firing. I also don’t think that it’s meant for us to come home at night, plop into a lazy boy, drink beer and watch 5 hours of television at night.

I think it’s about sharing our days with each other and talking about things that members of the family did. Or how they’re feeling. Or what they may be working through.

I’m very grateful that Kate consistently makes sure we have a sit down family dinner in our home. It has always been a wonderful way to connect with each other. I think as I continue on this journey, I’m willing to sacrifice a few of those ambitions or projects to make sure that the family is intact. Because that is the greatest gift that I have been given stewardship over and I want to treat my family with the respect, attention and love they deserve.

For more on this subject of family time, listen to my recent podcast of The Discussion with co-host Jeremy Van Cleave.

Quest for the Golden Trophy

misty-mountains

I think a part of the human condition is that we are never satisfied. That can be a good thing, because it can challenge you to grow, to stretch and to change for the good.

Sometimes it can be harmful.

Sometimes you stop looking at the great things that you have in your life, and start looking longingly at what other people have.

“If only I had their career, their house, their opportunities.”

Through this fog of “longing looking” you start to formulate an unhealthy mindset of what will make you happy. Suddenly you see something in the distance.

It’s a shimmering golden trophy.

“That’s it!” you say. “That’s what I need to be happy!”

So you start your journey to reach this distant trophy. It could be a better job, more money, more respect. It’s not the goal that’s wrong. It’s the intent.

Trying to find happiness in things.

If you think you will get that, you are mistaken.

Because you may get to that trophy someday, you will hold it in your hands and the golden glow will fade. It won’t bring you happiness.

Then like a Greek myth, in the distance you will see another golden trophy, and you will tell yourself “No, that’s what I really wanted! That will give me the happiness I seek!”

Off you will go on your never ending, never satisfying quest.

The truth is you have the actual treasures with you right now. In your family and friends, your challenges and relationships in the workplace. There is even treasure in the process of the work that you are doing right now.

Don’t let the dreamlike empty promise of the distant golden trophy cause you to walk right over the treasure chest of love, opportunity and work you have right now.

One more thought from C.S. Lewis

If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”