This morning, was like most mornings, the kids get up super early and climb into bed with my wife and I before we get up, eat breakfast and head off to church. I wish I could say that was stronger in my faith, and had all the answers to the important questions in life. What I have found in the last few months is that the pastors at my church have been speaking directly to me. During the past few weeks, I have found the sermons really connected to things in my life. I again wish I have been able to apply those lessons more completely in my life and make the changes I desire to make my life more complete. My intention is not to preach to you from my soap box, but rather to share another revelation in my life.
Today's sermon was about worshiping false idols. She began her sermon with an analogy from her youth where kids were asked to make something that sounded like dioramas. I apologize to Pastor Lori, I didn't tune in right away, so the setting of the story is a little fuzzy. But to the point, she was talking about kids creating something that represented things that were important in their lives. She talked about the various things like sports, dance, possessions, beauty, well you get the idea.
This caught my attention because I shifted to thinking about how cool of a sociology lesson I could make out of this where students create... yeah I know... not what church is about, but I am being honest here. She continued to build on making her connection to what is important to us isn't always what should be important. She gave an example of the church's confirmation class which in my humble opinion does a tremendous job of getting young people connected to their faith through some amazing service activities helping others. Students are asked to participate in a number of activities, retreats, and projects to help them self fund their trips. These opportunities and activities are great experiences, however they require a time commitment from the students and their families. This is where the lesson dropped out of the sky like the anvil hitting Wile E Coyote -
Parents complained about having to give up time to participate in these activities. One family even said, "Sports come first in our family." And Pastor Lori gave them credit for at least being honest. I too understand the pressures of sports having coached various sports at the high school level for twelve of my fourteen year teaching career and years before I was a teacher. I can empathize with the family for feeling the pressure to have their son/daughter live up to their commitments to their teams. I can empathize with them when I find myself thinking about lesson planning in church instead of really listening to the message. I understand the pulls from society to measure up and complete so many tasks in so little time.
As I really began to think about the sermon I realized how much this applied to my life. While she used sports, my idol has been work. I have devoted so much time and effort to my improving my teaching, connecting to my students and creating experiences for them that I have made sacrifices. I have sacrificed my relationships with my family. I have given up participation in activities with the kids to grade papers or lesson plan. Connections to friends and extended family have been put on hold to maintain sanity at work. I love what I do, but I have put so much time and effort into it that I have lost out on opportunities to be part of my kids experiences with them as they grow and learn.
Yes Pastor Lori meant for me to take away the message that I am not connecting to God and I need to make an effort with that relationship, and I honestly think that if I work on that relationship, a lot of the other issues in my life will also become easier. My immediate connection however, was to think about my need to prioritize and live in the moment. The lessons I teach while important, cannot match the significance of coloring pictures or reading stories with my daughters. Grading papers while necessary cannot take the place of date night with my wife. Filling out paper work, or any of the other mundane tasks in education are NOT more important than sitting down for supper and listening to my kids tell me about their day.
Another Amazing event of this whole conversation is that I had been talking about my struggles this year with other teachers on Twitter, and a friend Kimberly Hurst @khurdhorst jumped into the conversation. She shared the video below that her Pastor presented to them today as part of their service.
I heard Pastor Lori's message loud and clear. I need to stop making work my number one priority. It will always remain important, but my connection to God and my family need to become my top priorities not only in thought but in action.
When the lights go out, my life will not be about how well I wrote my SLO, my lesson plans, how quickly I returned homework, but its about relationships. My family doesn't care if I created a great class website, if I connected to all the Common Core Standards, if my school's report card is exceeds expectations. They care if I will push them on the swings, teach them to ride their bikes, give them extra hugs and kisses at bedtime, give them a piggy back ride, or make their favorite meals. And for my wife make time to talk about things other than the kids or work. For her I need to disconnect with the distractions of the world and plug into sitting on the couch and yes even cuddle while watching one of those romantic movies geared for women.
I am making progress on this, but I am sure my family would see it as very slow progress, but I am trying and determined to grow and develop my personal relationships because while they count on me for support and help, I rely on them to get me through. I spent the last two week nights trying to focus on spending time with them. I played follow the leader with my youngest daughter, and I wish I would have recorded the sounds of laughter filling the house. She was having so much fun she had the whole family laughing. I spent time listening to my oldest as she learned to play the piano. My wife and I were able to squeeze some time in there to talk and listen to each other, and I learned some new things about her that make me love and appreciate her more.
I am a work in progress and with the Lord's help and the patience of my family, I will continue to learn to be the person, father and husband I should be. I don't have answers for you, I just have finally opened up my heart to hearing the message the Lord has been trying to share with me.
Thank you for taking the time to read another one of my ramblings and I hope you take time this week and in your life to reflect on what is important and make the necessary changes. I will continue to struggle with living up to my own expectations and will always turn to my those important to me for help and guidance. Please know you are not alone in the