In 1987 I hit the wall emotionally. I was 29 years old. married. We had 3 young children, living 1000 miles from home. I was in the midst of pursuing the goal of being a marriage and family counselor .
I was gone a three nights of the week involved in youth work and schooling. Every Saturday and Sundays was also taken up by various commitments.
I thought things were going pretty well, until my wife told me otherwise…
There’s a song on the radio right now by Sanctus Real that takes me back to those days.
I look around and see my wonderful life
Almost perfect from the outside
In picture frames, I see my beautiful wife
Always smiling, but on the inside
Oh, I can hear her saying
Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can’t
Don’t leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?
Show me you’re willing to fight
That I’m still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone
I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes
They’re just children from the outside
I’m working hard, I tell myself they’ll be fine
They’re independent, but on the inside
Oh, I can hear them saying…..
I won’t bore you with all the gory details right now, just to say, I other than my job, I dropped out of every other time commitment in my life to focus on being a better husband and father.
If you’re still reading along and want to watch another version of that song with a little more “punch” watch this one:
Anyway, back to my story….
That was not as easy as it sounds.
I was a people please-er to the core.
Couple of great books helped me to regain my focus.
To this day, 25 years later, I am still applying things I read from both of those books.
Business is not the same as a productive life.
You can be busy going no-where fast.
If you’re not careful, there are lots of people who are more than happy to tell you how to live your life.
But do I want to get to the end of my life and realize I’ve squandered it all away on meetings, work, and “good” activities that leave me too tired to have anything left for the people in my life who mean the most to me?
So here’s what happened…
I set some long term goals. A 5 year goal, a 10 year goal, a 20 year goal , a 30 year goal and lifetime goal.
Here’s a portion of my end of life goal:
#1 I would have loved my wife, children, brothers and sisters with no regrets.
#2 I would have a home in the countryside with animals and growing things.
#3 That I would have been faithful to God to the end...that I ran the race well.
(Life is a marathon/ not a 50 yard dash) If I’m going to make the long haul, then by golly, I need to know how to set a long term pace/ and that includes knowing how to live a balanced life)
We live in such a materialistically saturated culture.
I know financial pressures first hand. I know what it’s like to not have enough money to take the kids to the dentist. Clothes shop @ the Salvation Army. Grocery shopping @ Aldi’s. Not have enough $ for postage stamps. Drive old cars donated to help out families like ours.
I also know that in some mysterious way, I have been led. We just celebrated 33 years of marriage this past weekend and our relationship is still smoke’n!
We survived the teen years and I have great lines of communication with all 4 of our children.
My relationship with my parents and siblings has never been better.
and finally, even though we’ve puttered along on one “blue collar” job the whole 33 years (I’m a self employed carpenter) I currently live in a” home in the country” (mortage is paid off) and I am surrounded by “animals and growing things.”