Does This Family Look Familiar? (Part 1)

familystress.jpgSeveral years ago, I sat at a table in the faculty dining room at Baylor University.  At the table with me was a man who had served as the academic dean and eventually as the president of a seminary.  He was now "semi-retired."  Most weekends, he preached at a church somewhere in the country.  I met him in a class that I was auditing.  We went to lunch and I began asking him questions about what he was seeing in these churches.  His reply?  

"Jim, I am seeing many, many very tired people."

Wow.  How interesting that this would be his immediate response.  Yet, I think I know what he is talking about.  I see them in our church as well.  Many, many people who appear to be exhausted.

Some of them are like "John and Susan Bailey."  You might have a difficult time getting to know them because it is very difficult to catch up with them.  Their schedule doesn’t allow much time for friendships.  Oh they have a few friends.  However, they spend little time relaxing with these friends.  Usually when they see one of their friends, one of them will shout, "Hey we need to have lunch sometime."  But of course, no one follows through.

John Bailey belongs to a civic club, coaches a softball team, works out several times a week, teaches the high school Sunday School class and maintains a beautiful yard.

Besides her regular part-time job, Susan Bailey finds herself juggling an exhausting schedule.  She is always creating new projects or volunteering to help someone else with theirs.  She serves on committees and volunteers at her children’s school.  If she is not taking her youngest to the dentist, she is driving her pre-teen to the store for supplies for a science project.  

At first glance, it might appear that the Bailey family spends a lot of time together.  Yet, when they are together they talk on the phone to other people, constantly check their e-mail on their phones, text their friends repeatedly and overall just seem very, very distracted.  They don’t seem to be really focused on one another.  They always seem — hurried.

Do you recognize this family?  Do you see families who seem to be in constant motion?  Do you know families who do not seem to be really listening to one another?  Do you ever wonder if they are missing the experience of the present while they are anticipating the next event?

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10 thoughts on “Does This Family Look Familiar? (Part 1)

  1. I had these same thoughts several years ago, and sometimes still ruminate on them today.  At that time a wrote a poem I hope you won’t mind that I share here. First and foremost this poem was an admonition to me. ARE YOU?Are you too busy, can’t get everything done?Are you exhausted, life’s just no more fun?Are you not meeting deadlines, eating lunch on the run?And before you know it, your day’s come and gone?Are you resting much less, but working much more?Is your place such a mess that you can’t see the floor?Would you be embarrassed to crack open the door?Does abundant life seem more like a chore?Are there not enough hours and days in a week?To solve their own problems is it YOU they all seek?Do you hate to say ‘no’ because you’re so humble and meek?Are you worn out and tired and weary and weak?Then you’re doing stuff God never asked you to do,For HE gives enough power to see each task through.You  won’t be tormented, by what HE wants you to do .To be stressed, overworked, is not a more spiritual you.So start shifting gears, and start sharing your load.Don’t be too proud to let others serve too.It’s OK to slow down.  You do have a choice!Get started today!  Your life He’ll renew!Karin RistauIn this, I miss the olden days of families visiting families and the children actually playing together and the adults having meaningful, deep and/or fun filled conversations. But I’m not part of the solution sometimes, and keep busier than I should.   

  2. Excellent poem. And I have never been able to format things correctly here either. For my response, I’d say that modern life makes it very easy to fall into this trap. We are pretty much expected to take our children to every event, every club, every sport, every night. Well, here’s where my wife and I failed at society’s expectation. It is sometimes hard, but we have always limited the number of things the kids could sign up for. There are always a few nights at home together. I wish I could say every one of these was a "Little House on the Prairie" evening, but they are not. Sometimes we just watch a movie together, or lately a cooking show. But we are together, there are no deadlines, no rehearsals required, no headaches.

  3. The grownups I know who are like this seem to prefer this lifstyle.  But their kids don’t.  Their kids – for whom all this is supposedly being done - are tired and overwhelmed and stressed and sad a lot of the time.

  4. At times I feel I have conquered the "busyness beast", then there are times I feel like a failure in this regard.  I would like to hear your (and others) comments on how to deal with this.  This seems to be a common problem. Carrie 

  5. Karin,Great words and a great poem as well.  You communicate much truth through this poem.(Sorry about the format issue.  Not sure what to do with that issue.)

  6. Dave–I like the way you spoke regarding the expectations that so many parents are facing,  We experienced the same kind of thing (the growing and mounting expectations) when our children were growing up.

  7. Darryl, Your observation regarding these children is interesting.  I wonder what the long term implications of such a lifestyle might be.

  8. Carrie,I will comment on this more in another post.  Perhaps others will comment in response to your question.I do want to say that what you have already done is so important toward dealing with this.  You have already acknowledged that this has been a problem in your life.  In other words, there is something to be said for seeing this.  There are far, far too many people who think that such a lifestyle is "normal."