“You will never find the time to spend with your children. You have to make time and plan for it. There is no other possible way.” –from the book To a Child Love is Spelled T-I-M-E
Recently I had one of those soft and subtle moments that probably happen on a regular basis in our lives as parents, but perhaps we often miss. My daughter loves to lie out on the sofa and fall asleep as I work at night. I think there is just something when she closes her eyes that gives her a bit more security and peace knowing that I am nearby. As she was drifting off I knelt down next to her, softly rubbing her little head and singing to her. She was out within a matter of minutes. Time seemed to stand still for me; my heart began to ache as I sifted through the truths and realities of how God has blessed me with the amazing gift of fatherhood, but that one day moments like this would be gone forever. After I carried her into her room and put her in bed, I began to praise Him for allowing me moments such as these with my little girl. Even more so, I thanked Him that I actually caught on to it and did not miss such a priceless opportunity.
James tells us that “life is a vapor.” We live in a complex world that is always competing for not only our time and energy, but our children’s as well. Because of this, it is easy to see how even the most well-intentioned parents can miss the things that matter the most for things that don’t really matter at all. School is back in full-swing now. There are practices and after school activities to schedule in, and the world of business is off of its summer mindset and running on all cylinders. Do you see how quickly our weak bodies could tire and blow right through the days and weeks ahead? We eat on the run, skip the family talks, and probably most devastating, cut our time with God down to a bare minimum. All of these little compromises can add up to major losses if we are not aware and alert.
I think the hustle and bustle may be magnified even greater for those of us who are single parents, considering one half of the parent equation is not present on a regular (or even irregular) basis. Our frame of mind is always on what we need to do next…not what we should be doing “now.” I understand the pressures and demands of life rarely slow down, but remember why (and for who) we do what we do and bust our humps every day. Our kids need us. The world is constantly dumping mountains of lies, distortion, and inconsistencies on them. They need to hear God’s truth spoken into them through us, and they need to see us living it out as cleanly and consistently as we can.
The story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 is a classic example of “doing” things for others instead of “being” with them. Martha was too busy doing the work to serve Christ, while Mary, who was sitting at Jesus’ feet, was the one who was worshipping. Jesus responds by explaining to Martha that she is troubled about many things while her sister was taking part in the only good thing that was needed, and could not be taken away from her. Compare His words here to your own life. Are you so busy running around like a chicken with its head cut off that those God-given gifts are falling through the cracks? We can get so lost in the everyday busyness of life that it is possible to miss what’s right in front of us today. That applies to both our time with our kids AND our time with the Lord.
God never intends for us to be out of communication with Him. In fact, He paid the ultimate sacrifice to reconcile us back to Himself. The way we approach and handle the everyday challenges of life will be in direct correlation to our time with Him. He deserves our first and our best - nothing less. Use your time with Jesus as a springboard for time with your children. Isn’t He the one we come running to when we’re in need of someone to talk to? Doesn’t He give us the opportunity to bring our burdens before Him without being weighed down? Is not our Savior the One who holds us, comforts us, and loves us just because we are worth it to Him? Those are the type of intimate moments we should be drawing off of and pouring back into our kids. Simply put, we cannot pass on that which we do not have.
Our children are never too far away to hear what they mean to us and how much we love them, and we should never be so busy that it is not a top priority on our end to tell them. God’s Word tells us to “be still.” When we walk in that sort of harmony with Him, He blesses us with the opportunities we can use for those daily gifts. We are then able to invest ourselves into the times that matter the most; and like Mary, cannot be taken away from us.
“If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.” –Maria Edgeworth
Matt Haviland is the founder of “A Father’s Walk” single dad ministry and the author of the book, A Father’s Walk: A Christian-Based Resources for Single Fathers. He currently lives in his hometown of Grand Rapids, MI, is the co-founder of the Grand Rapids Single Parenting Expo, and is a single dad to a beautiful little girl himself. For more information on the ministry and how to form a single dad small group in your own church, please visit www.afatherswalk.org.
Publication date: September 12, 2013