Ask any person, “How’s it going?” and I bet 99% of the time you get the answer, “Busy.”
Our lives are full of work, sporting events, school, coffee dates, meetings, and deadlines. In fact, we tend to wear the label “busy” with pride – a badge of honor, a mark of importance, a symbol of status. And sometimes we just use it as an excuse not to serve or be in relationship. Because who doesn’t understand that you’re just busy. It’s nothing personal, right?
But at the end of the day, we all make time for what we want to do.
John Hill, Director of Family Camp at Laity Lodge, challenged us this weekend to look beyond our busy schedules and see the opportunities to build relationships. In some cases, we can create more margin in our lives through scrutinizing our schedule (which will be great material for another post…). However, at some level, the number of activities and responsibilities filling our schedule will not change.
What can change is how we perceive them.
Do you see your daily schedule as one giant to do list, that you just check off as you go and pray that you make it to the end of the day? Or do you see each activity as a chance to build a relationship? You have to be there anyway – make the most of the time that’s already set aside.
Perhaps you can do that through watching your child play in soccer practice and learning about his or her personality rather than shuffling through a few more papers from work. I have learned so much about my daughter’s faith in herself, her personality, and even her fears by watching her in gymnastics practice. A wise friend once told me that if she could do it over, she’d have done less “multi-tasking” during her daughter’s basketball games and watched more. The work will still be there long after the celebration of the winning basket has ended.
Or use that time to build relationships with the siblings or spouse who is attending with you. Little sister has to come along to big brother’s baseball practice? Use the time to talk and engage her about her day. Or teach her about baseball and talk about why her big brother loves to play. Play a game, do a small project, even help with homework. Small spots of intentional time can make a world of difference.
Being present during those times also allows you to talk with your kids afterward about what you saw. You can ask them how they felt when their team lost, and find a teachable moment about sportsmanship or identity. You’re also demonstrating to any other siblings what it means to support one another. Brett Johnson in his survey to determine what factors created a closeness among siblings found the number one factor was “Siblings’ support of extracurricular activities.”
The following practice never even crossed my mind before this process started. That is the importance of making time for our children to support each other in their individual activities . . . Giving kids the time to cheer for each other ended up being the strongest individual factor contributing to a close adult relationship. In fact, it is notably more essential for brothers and sisters to cheer on and support each other than it is for their parents to do the same thing. ~Brett Johnson, CloseKids, p. 40
He goes on to say that it’s about showing up to the activities as well as showing support for each others’ interests.
So I’m challenged to look at my schedule differently these days. Yes, it’s full. Yes, I still fight for margin. But more and more I’m starting to see windows to build relationships with my kids and even their friends. How about you?