Have you ever had a long day? Of course you have. Me too. I have had days when I leave the office wondering what I actually accomplished. It’s not that I wasn’t busy. I was busy all right. But that’s just it. I was just…busy. Then I have days where I leave feeling like I just changed the world! I love those days. I’d take those every day if I could.
I have been on a little bit of a soul-searching journey for the last year or so now. No…it’s not a mid-life crisis. I’m only 35. That’s not mid-life, right? Anyway, it’s actually been a time of figuring out what has shaped me as a human being and addressing some events in life that have shaped me negatively.
For example, family dinners around my house are super stressful to me. I have three kids. That should tell you a lot, but that’s not why they are stressful. There’s a lot of tension around family dinnertime because I have some memories of dinnertime as a little guy that were pretty ugly and, at times, violent. Family dinnertime, to me, meant conflict. It was burned in my psyche for some reason. I’m not blaming anyone, including my parents. They have been divorced for 30 years now, and I am well past that—love them both dearly. Nevertheless, the memories are there.
Family dinner happens in the time of day when my family is tired from school and work. It’s the hottest part of the day, and no one wants to cook. Plus, my wife and I spend most of the 30 minutes at the table trying to shove food down my kids’ throats because they don’t like what has been made for them. Parents know what saying. I just want to scream, “Sit down and eat your food so we can have some family time together!” It’s maddening, really. It just brings up a lot of emotions from many years ago that aren’t good. In addition, I inadvertently put this pressure on my wife to make these gourmet dinners every night to help make it a better experience. Of course, that’s not fair to her after long days of shuttling kids around, going to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, etc.
This got me thinking. Maybe I’m missing the point. Here’s what I know I value: I know I want to spend time with my family. I want us to have time to laugh together and share what is going on in our world. But maybe the way we do it doesn’t work for us. Should I feel guilty about that? No, because family dinner isn’t the point. Spending time with family is the point. Honestly, this is what God wants from us. He doesn’t want just an appointment with us on Sunday, nor does he only want to hear you pray at the dinner table. Trust me, those are good things. However, he wants us all day. Everyday. He wants to walk side by side with us.
I like how “The Message” version of Matthew 11:20-30 says this familiar verse:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Anybody out there need some rest? I do. I love the phrase “unforced rhythms of grace.” To me, that means unplanned and ongoing. Yes! Maybe I’m tired because of all the appointments I try to keep. Maybe I am tired from setting the table and getting “ready” for family dinnertime instead of actually enjoying the people I am around the table with. Bottom line: Keep your appointments with God. It really is a good thing. Spiritual disciplines never hurt anybody. However, don’t let those times be the only time you chat with Him. He wants to talk! I’m convinced he’s an extrovert.
Practical Note: The Darsee family has found breakfast time is a better time for us to connect. We all rise pretty early anyway, and we would rather give the time where we have the most energy to each other. Plus…breakfast food is easy to cook! Winning.