“I’m busy right now. I’ll call you back.”
“I have some things I need to finish. Daddy will play with you later.”
“I know I promised I would take you, but the bills aren’t going to pay themselves. I have deadlines to meet.”
We’ve all made similar statements at some point. Not necessarily out of vindictiveness, but out of necessity. Life is challenging, and the demands it places upon us is never-ending. And it’s easy for the attention of our loved ones to place second to our livelihoods. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s actually the opposite. We show our love by working to put food on the table, keeping a roof overhead, and keeping the lights on. Our responsibilities consume a tremendous amount of our time, the resource by which life flows. But the mistake we make is forgetting time is a limited resource. We have a natural inclination to think tomorrow is promised to us. That our loved ones will always be there. That we’ll get another chance. When the truth of the matter is, we’ll never know when it’s going to be the last time. The last time we get to talk to them. The last time we get to hold them. The last time we get to kiss them. The last time they get to hear us say we love them. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily routine of life and take the people we love for granted. We tend to give our best to our employers and businesses, while our loved ones are left with the crumbs. In our defense, bills need to be paid and food needs to be bought, and it’s easy to develop tunnel vision when the financial challenges of life are unrelenting. Finding balance can be difficult. If the bills weren’t being paid and there wasn’t any food on the table, the same people competing for our time would be urging us to do something to fix the situation. But when their basic needs are being met, our time becomes their priority. We can become overwhelmed with the expectation of being everything to everyone. Some men adapt, others run. They run for the nearest exit, selfishly leaving their families to fend for themselves. There are countless mothers experiencing the same overwhelming feelings, but they seem to be better at finding a way to make it work. As men, there’s no reason why we can’t make the necessary adjustments as well. It all comes down to commitment. We must remain steadfast in our commitment to God, and to our families.
My Grandmother spent the last years of her life in a nursing home and spent several of those years having to take dialysis for her kidneys three days a week. I would always make time to call her on the days she didn’t have dialysis to check on her, let her know I loved her, and remind her she wasn’t alone. Most days we didn’t have much to talk about, and the conversations were redundant. Most of her stories I’d heard before, but from time to time she would discuss an event that was new to my ears. It wasn’t as much about the content of our conversations as it was the blessing I received from being able to hear her voice again. I knew the time would come when I wished I could call her and hear those same stories once again. I never knew when our final conversation would take place, so I always made it a point to let her know how much I loved her. The day she passed away, her mental capacity had diminished to the point where talking to her wasn’t an option. When I received the word she had transitioned, along with the grief I felt, I was also comforted by the fact I did everything humanly possible to show my love for her while she was alive. I had no regrets.
Having to live with regret is one of my greatest fears. This fear has been a huge motivating factor in my life. I never want to look back at a situation with a knowing feeling in the pit of my stomach that I didn’t do enough. There will always be interests and hobbies, such as learning to play an instrument, that will fall by the wayside. But the truly important people and moments in our lives deserve our undivided attention.
A famous individual was asked how he managed to successfully balance all his ventures and still maintain a successful home life. These ventures include a thriving ministry, film production, authoring best-selling books, real estate, philanthropy, and much more. He said he had to learn to “keep the main thing the main thing.” He stated that he gave 100% effort to whatever he was working on in the moment. Whether it’s spending time with his wife, writing books or his ministry, he gives his complete focus to the moment. But he makes it a point to never spend too much time working on one thing. Spending too much time on one thing creates an imbalance.
Imbalance can create slippage. Slippage in your marriage. Slippage in your relationship with your children. Slippage in your work. Slippage in your health. Slippage in your relationship with God. This begs the question, “How do you know when you’re spending too much time on something?” This is where discernment comes into play. You must learn to be sensitive* to the needs of your loved ones. This comes from actively listening to what they’re saying to you and how they’re saying it. Paying attention to their body language as well. If you pay close attention, you can tell when someone’s words and body language are not in alignment. There are times when “that’s fine” and “okay” mean the exact opposite. It’s NOT “okay” and things are NOT “fine.” If you close your mouth and listen, people will tell you everything you need to know. The key is to block out your desires and ego to truly listen in the moment.
Unless you’re superficial to your core, when you reach the end of your life, you’re not going to remember the bonus checks and the salary increases. You’re going to remember the moments, both good and bad, that truly touched your heart. There will be things you wished you did, and things you were happy you did. Hopefully, your list of regrets will be short or, better yet, nonexistent. Now is the time to make the necessary adjustments. You’re still breathing, so you still have time to make time. Don’t let the moment slip away.
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