Am I With Anyone?

I was in Lowe’s the other day shopping for a new grill. The grills are located near the front of the store. While looking at a particular grill, I noticed an older couple who had just entered the store. She was limping and also trying to push her shopping basket down the aisle.

Where was her husband?

Well, he was walking in front of her at a fast pace. He was about twenty feet ahead and seemed to be in his own world.

Finally, she said in a loud voice, “Am I with anyone?” He turned around and said gruffly, “I haven’t gone anywhere!”

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So much for tenderness.

She does have a point. Sometimes we become almost oblivious to others with whom we are in relationship. Husbands can be insensitive to the needs of wives. Parents can be blind to the effect of their pace of life on their small children. Christian leaders can be oblivious to some in their congregations who may feel that they have lost their connection with their leaders. There are many people who could echo the words of the woman at Lowe’s.

Am I with anyone?

Husbands and wives can get preoccupied with many things. Work can be very demanding. The evenings might be spent dealing with PTA, picking up the children from practice, and answering e-mail from someone at work. Before bed, a husband and wife might watch television or catch up with others on Facebook. A husband or wife can stay incredibly busy and yet really not connected to one another emotionally.

Am I with anyone?

Children can get preoccupied and cease to connect with the rest of their family and friends. So sisters and brothers ignore one another while each goes his own way. Children can become so absorbed in video games that they have forgotten how to play with others. Several children recently approached their teacher at recess to announce a real problem to their teacher. “We’re bored!” they said. She looked at the large playground in front of her and there must have been fifty children playing. Yet, these two children say they are bored.

Am I with anyone?

Christian leaders can also become preoccupied. Christian leaders can walk way ahead of the church and forget about bringing others along. Disconnected. Removed. Oblivious to others.

I was thinking this afternoon about the relationships I have that are so important to me:

*My wife

*My daughters/son-in-law

*The grandson “in the making”

*Good friends and other family members

*Our congregation


Am I with anyone? Yes. I am with these people. They are a significant part of my life. They are a gift. I want to make sure that I am not so preoccupied with other matters that I neglect the people who are most important to me. I don’t want to walk ahead of my spouse and children, taking them for granted, assuming that they will follow along.


Questions:

When have you tended to neglect your significant relationships? Have you ever realized that you were taking certain relationships for granted?



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10 thoughts on “Am I With Anyone?

  1. Jim,
    You make an excellent point with the analogy of the older couple in Lowe’s. I tend to do get so wrapped up in physical therapy school, I forget to make time with my wife. It is so easy to do, so we try to schedule a “date night” every Friday night so that we make sure we set time away from our crazy schedules to spend time with each other. It has worked out well so far and I think we will continue to have “date night” after I graduate.

    P.S. Mom came to see us this past weekend and she told me about your new title as “Grandparent”! Congrats!

    • Chris, it is so easy to get caught up in school or work. Part of that is probably related to the stress of school I wrestled with the same thing when I was in grad school. Yet, you are so right about the importance of making time just for your wife. When I was in school, Charlotte and I would often run together in the evenings. That 30 minutes or so of running and talking helped to put school and a lot of other things in perspective.

  2. Thanks for the wisdom, Jim.

    This became a reality for me yesterday when my wife (who not only cares for our 3 boys but home-schools them) broke down about how unfair things have been as of late…because of my being able to be out and about while she is in the house 24/7. She had to remind me that I need to be around as well…not just because my children need me, and not just so her companion can be close by…but also so that she might gain some rare glimpses of freedom and independence. In other words, she just needs out of the house sometimes. Seems like a given as I write this, but sometimes the trees seem so important I end up missing the needs of the whole forest.

    • Jon Mark, I appreciate what you have shared here. This whole situation (being in the house 24/7) must be enormously stressful on your wife. I appreciate your sharing what she said to you because it illustrates so well just how easily we can become oblivious to it all. (I have certainly done the same kind of thing.) Your closing words are a good reminder of the need for each of us to step away and remember again what the point is regarding all that we are doing.

  3. There are times that I’ve realized that I was taking church too seriously and letting it sap me of the emotional energy I needed for my aging parents and of the physical energy needed to do my day job. I’ve tried to correct that and live in a more balanced way, so that I don’t shortchange my parents and don’t drag into work giving them the leftovers of my energy. It’s required me to make small changes like eating more of a balanced diet, getting more rest and learning to trust God with the church.

    • Pat, I really appreciate your comment. Your comment is a reflection of genuine attempt to re-order your priorities. I really like the way you came at this. You came at this looking at your ministry to your aging parents and you responsibilities at work. Very good. I also like the last part of the last sentence where you say that you are “…learning to trust God with the church.”

    • L. L., Thanks very much for your kind words. I like the question as well. I am trying to be more conscious of noticing the words and actions of people who are right in front of me. (Thanks for the encouragement regarding “the poet.”) I appreciate the encouragement that you have given to me and so many others to pay attention to the poet within.