We are less than one week away from Christmas! Just writing that caused my heart to speed up a little. 2018 has flown by. I always remember my grandfather saying, “the older you get, the faster time seems to go.” As a young kid (maybe at times a young punk), I always thought that I was “old man talk.” Well, if it is “old man talk”, then I am officially an old man. I have found myself talking about how fast this year has gone more times than I can count. While some people have already done all of their Christmas shopping, and some have even wrapped the presents and placed them under the tree; there are some out there who are still shopping. Let’s be honest, some haven’t even started yet. The next few days will be spent in crowded highways so that you can get into crowded stores, all for the joy of waiting in long lines. But I have found myself asking a question over this past week, what is the best thing I could steal? I’m sure that seems like a very strange question to ask. Therefore, I will spend the rest of the time trying to explain myself.
I think the best thing that we can steal is something that starts over each day, we all have the same amount of it in a day, and it is the thing that we most often waste. Of course, I am speaking of time. One of the joys I get as a husband and a father, is the joy of being with my wife and taking our kids to school each morning. Sure it would be more practical to have my wife take them, and for the record she has said that she would many, many times. That would mean it would be as necessary to get into the office as early, or stay at the office as late. But those 30 minutes of time are often some of the best time I have with my family. I look forward to it each morning, so much so, that if I can’t do it one morning, I feel a little bummed out. Some mornings are a little harder, and sure there are mornings where I tell them, “if you don’t get out of that bed, get dressed, and eat breakfast, you are walking to school.” But I also know there are many parents that don’t get the simple joy of spending 30 minutes each morning with their kids. Every now and then, like today, things happen and Diana and I have to tag team the kid drop-off. She gets to take the little ones to the lower school, and I take our eldest son to the upper school. He is entering into what many people say are the scariest years, the teenage years. There are days where he frustrates me, but that’s because he is acting like….well, like me. But I have also come to cherish those car rides to and from school with just Andrew and I. I get to hear his heart, see what God is doing in his life, and talk to him about a variety of topics that we are both interested in. In the interest of full disclosure, sometimes I have to listen to stories about dinosaurs, Star Wars, and other things that frankly aren’t the most interesting to me. But I hear stories from parents of how their child used to talk to them, but now they have shut down. If I’m honest, I am worried that day may come, not only with Andrew but with the other three kids as well. I don’t think there is a magic formula for parents to follow to keep the lines of communication open with their children. I have seen some of the most loving, caring parents go through some of the greatest heartache with their children. I have also seen some parents who are distracted by other things, have kids talk to them about every thing. If you are looking for a magic formula to unlock your children, I’m sorry I haven’t found it. But I will share the one thing that is working for Diana and I. In the age of parents giving their children everything no matter what it costs, this is something that we can all give our kids and it won’t cost of anything of value. The thing we can give them is our time. Take interest in your child, and what interests your child. Set the example for them by coming and talking with them. So often as parents we want our kids to do as we say, not as we do. I know I am certainly guilty of that at times. Spending time with our children may mean that we don’t get as much done each day. It may mean that you have to listen to things that you don’t care about. But in the end, you will have invested in your legacy. What we pass on to our children is what will out live us. I heard someone say one time, “parents aren’t truly raising their kids as much as they are raising their future grandchildren.” That is such a profound statement. The values that we instill in our children, many times become the values that they will instill in their children.
I know this is a busy time of year, and there is more to do than we can possibly get done. I know many times we rationalize working long hours, and spending time away for our family by saying, “I’m doing this for my family.” Truthfully, we are really doing it for ourselves. We are trying to be all things to all people. Truly we are trying to play the role of God in people’s lives. One of these days, parents are going to look up and their children are going to be grown up, moved out, and if we aren’t careful they will have moved on. One day, we will gather around a family table, and we will notice not only those who are there, but also those who aren’t there. And we will have regrets of time not spent with them, and then the crushing blow of reality that we can’t get back the time that was wasted. Therefore, as we steam towards Christmas morning and then a week later, New Year’s Day; I want to encourage you, steal some time with those closest to you. Slow down, thank God for those around you, and be present with them, because all too soon it will be over.