That I need my family is beyond question.
But I'm continually learning new ways of how I need them...
This week the whole family is gone. And while it initially overwhelmed me with feeling lonely without and "apart" from them, I've settled down into very much enjoying the time.
The house is clean- the moment the kids drive out the driveway with Amy I feel an overwhelming urge to pick crap up- mostly because I know- I KNOW- that if I pick x, y or z up, x, y or z will stay picked up- at least until the kids get home again.
Maybe you're the kind of guy who goes all feral when forced bachelorhood arrives. I'm not- In fact, I'm never as neat, as fastidious as when the family is gone. The bed has been made every morning (because when I get up now, I'm not leaving a still-sleeping wife and/or 1 or 2 kids behind, so it's easy just to pull the covers up and straighten everything). There are no dishes in the sink. The living room is straight and my office has never been tidier.
In fact, I've had time to do a lot of things I haven't seemed to be able to get to since we moved in- closet organized, clothes gone through and culled (for Goodwill), the kids rooms are picked up... the place is looking good.
And I'm feeling good- getting good rest, all alone in that big bed with no one to kick me awake in the middle of the night, and no one coming into our room crying about this or that at all hours. So nice- my body doesn't seem to want to wake up at 2:30 am anymore... or even 5am. The more human hour of 6:30 has been the new norm. I wake, enjoy a leisurely stroll downstairs, walk out on the back deck for a deep breath, coffee cup in hand- not worried about getting anything done before anyone wakes up, because... well, it's just me.
Feels like the stress has melted away, the blood pressure raised by tantrums and whining and battles of will has gone down- it's like I'm a different person when the family is gone.
I was thinking about all of that this morning as I sat in my chair, Bible open in front of me, coffee mug at the ready- I am a different person. One who feels much more in control of his surroundings (expressed by the obsessive need to clean) and, in some ways, himself. Less stressed, less anxious... less in need of God.
As I sat, I reflected that while I have Gotten Things Done, I haven't exactly been a "prayer warrior" the past few days. WIth the stress of kids and the responsibilities of Husband and father have also gone the desperation and desire to connect to my Source that has been my life-line these past few years.
Through this family, the Gospel gets preached to me in ways I need to hear it.
In my wife and family I find not only great fulfillment and joy, but also a constant reminder of how much I need a Savior- of my selfishness and self-centeredness. I have in them a continual (and good) challenge to my idolatrous desire to have things my own way. The stress I feel at the tantrums and such isn't because of them- it's because of me- my reaction to them and their affront to my love for my own plans, convenience, comfort- whatever- that their understandably childish behavior is getting in the way of.
I'm grateful that God has given me a relationship with my wife in which I am constantly called on the carpet for selfish behaviors and attitudes- without her, the idea of "laying down my life" would most likely have remained academic to me. God has used this relationship to enrich my character, my understanding of Jesus and life in His way, and through it- challenge though it is, helped me to understand just how much I need Him.
Same thing with my kids- I generally approach parenting with a pretty simple prayer: "Help!"
That's a prayer I haven't prayed for a couple of days now... and that's a problem.
Thank You God, for my family. I need them in so many ways.