Today is part 3 of a short series. My goal is to share with you what happens when my life starts to get chaotic and I start to feel like running away from it all. So each day I’m trying to say “Here’s what happens to me” and then secondly “Here’s how I try and fix that.” (Part 1, Part 2)
So today I want to talk about one of the results of chaos in my life:
Shallow relationships. When chaos abounds, friendships and marriages and families suffer. You and I default into “DOING” rather than “BEING” and pretty soon we have forgotten that we are relational people and not machines. If all I’m doing is working or going to meetings (which aren’t relational times, let’s be honest), or meeting deadlines – then I start to suffer, and so do those around me. Relationships are like roots to a plant. The deeper they go, the more nourishment and life they provide. But if they stay shallow then pretty soon the plant starts to dry up. I find the same thing is true with me.
A couple thoughts on caring for relationships:
- First, my marriage: I don’t want a normal marriage. I want a crazy awesome, life-giving marriage. For my wife and I to have a great marriage, we need time together to be humans. Adult humans. We love our kids, but we loved each other first, and we’ll love each other after the kids are grown and gone. So that requires us to go on regular dates. Anything less than twice a month and I start to feel distant from her. We also know that about once a quarter or so we need to get away for at least a night together, without the kids. And at least once a year we want an extended vacation alone together.
- Family: As a family we have gotten into the routine of Friday nights as our “Family Fun Nights.” It’s a celebrated routine in our family. We protect that time like crazy. It’s usually pizza, a movie and popcorn. But sometimes we get creative, we go out, or we just play games. But it’s vital to our family to connect. On Saturday we try not to schedule much either. It’s generally reserved for resting, doing not much around the house, or occasionally going on an adventure to a park or hike somewhere.
- Friendships: If I go for very long without doing something with some friends just to laugh and eat and have fun – I start to become less than human. And I’ll confess, of these three types of relationships – friendship is the hardest one for me to make time for. It’s the one that usually gets cut first.
Usually when I find myself ready to run, all I have to do is look at how much time I’m giving to my relationships to see a primary source of my restlessness. It’s funny how each one of these things seems to come down to that whole routine / schedule thing. But it does. Spending time with my wife, with my kids, or with friends requires me to be intentional with my time. When my schedule is too chaotic, all these things suffer. Sometimes the greatest thing we can do for ourselves is to learn to say “no.” No to opportunities, to overtime, to invitations or anything else that takes away from our relationships.
Tomorrow, a word about health.