As I drive up into my driveway I see them. They cry out as they reach for the sky. I know the longer I put it off the more the machine will struggle to bring them back down to size. The weekday evenings are filled with activity and shuttling children to one activity to the next. While we hurriedly pull in and then reverse back out â€“ there they remain, taunting me.
Weekends are spent with even more activity and shuttling to activities. But eventually I begin to feel the burning stares of the neighbors and almost feel the breath of their loud sighs as if I alone am bringing down the value of their homes. Eventually we canâ€™t find the dogs, and the children begin to carry machetes to go to the bus stop in the mornings.
I say to myself, â€œI have got to cut the grass!â€
Cutting the grass is an activity that I enjoy and I do feel that to be a good neighbor I need to keep the bahia under control but where do I fit in time to do it? When I see manicured lawns I say, â€œwow,â€ and ask â€œwhere do they find time to make it look that good?â€
During the summer months and the early fall I have a lingering box on my weekly â€œto doâ€ list that often times does not get checked off; cutting the grass. I know I need to do it, but there are so many other things that seem to crowd out time to do it. There are only so many daylight hours of the day.
Do you have a â€œcutting the grassâ€ item on your â€œto doâ€ list that keeps getting pushed to next week’s list again and again? For some it may be â€œgo to the gymâ€ (and actually work out), â€œeat right,â€ or â€œspend time with my kids.â€
After the Christmas break last year my son Joshua wanted me to help him build a catapult for a school club that he wanted to join. We talked briefly about the requirements, drew out a design, and even made a mock up with a model. Then life stepped in and started stealing time. Weeks went by and every week continued to be filled with one activity and then another.
One important activity after another were placed on the calendar and religiously followed. Eventually we never ended up making the catapult â€“ I still feel horrible about it. He has never brought it up and we are on to another school year but the reality is that I allowed other things to take priority over our plans. I missed an opportunity to have a special time with my son. To be honest I donâ€™t even remember what those “important things” were that stole the moment away.
I have found that this is often the case â€“ the immediate â€œcrisisâ€ robs the long-term truly important items. I would not put Joshuaâ€™s project on the same lines as â€œget a haircutâ€ or â€œpaint the houseâ€ but if things are continued to be put off until another day then people will eventually start calling you â€œhoneyâ€ from behind and your neighbors will finally riot with pitchforks saying, â€œkill the beast who doesnâ€™t cut his grass!â€
So how do keep things under control where our homes are (somewhat) clean and neat, our personal hygiene is presentable, and our children know we love them? May I suggest the following:
- Everything has to have a priority order. Your children, spouse, and home are more important than anyone elseâ€™s â€“ because they are yours. You are responsible for them, no one else. So, therefore, your priorities will be different than your friendâ€™s. So when life happens, you have to measure this â€œcrisisâ€ in light of how it will affect what you alone are responsible for.
If it is happening to someone else it is always a â€œpriorityâ€ and a â€œcrisisâ€ for them â€“ but it may not be for you, and it doesnâ€™t have to be. How many times do you think you can miss your kidâ€™s ball games, performances, wedding anniversaries, etc. to rush off for someone elseâ€™s â€œcrisisâ€ before your family will know that they are not very high on your priority list?
What about the grass? Well, you may be getting an idea for why my grass is knee high and there are dishes in the sink.
Sit down. What I am about to say may cause you to become light headed. Ok. Are you ready?
- It is ok to say â€œNo.â€
. . . . .ok are you back with us? Here, put this cool rag on your head. Yes otherâ€™s priorities want an answer. Others want you to do stuff, constantly. But, there will come a time, when they will want you to place an item higher on the priority list than it should be (above family, wife, children, etc.) and you will know that you should say â€œno.â€ Itâ€™s ok. They may even get mad, but at the end of the day your kidâ€™s wonâ€™t resent you and you wonâ€™t be sleeping on the couch.
- Create margin in your life. I am a pastor, so my calling in life is to minister to other people. I am expected to be there during times of crisis in peopleâ€™s lives, and I am glad to be there. I am honored to be there, and for people to call me during times of crisis. But honestly, this doesnâ€™t happen every day.
But when it does happen, I need to run to my car, and leave. For those times when this does happen, it has to be measured against many times when I was there. But not just there. I need to be engaged, present, and participating in what is going on in the family. When I do this, they will understand that when a crisis does hit, then I need to go. For some it may be business trips, sales calls, etc. so when you need to be away â€“ let that time away be balanced with other time spent with them. Donâ€™t overcrowd your schedule and â€œto doâ€ list. Give yourself time for those emergencies.
So what if they donâ€™t happen? Then cut the grass.
- Give yourself a break. Seriously. So what if your grass is getting high, there are dishes in the sink, or the beds are not made? Life will continue, the earth will continue to rotate, and â€œthis too will pass.â€
Your kids will not always be with you, they will not always come to you when they scrape their knee, and eventually will drive themselves to wherever they need to go. The schedule will eventually slow down when they drive off to college or walk down the aisle. There will be days later for clean houses, manicured lawns, and trimmed nose hairs â€“ for now I have to go. Itâ€™s time for Cub Scouts.