Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Addition by Subtraction

For years, I played the game.  A game where legends are born. Men’s Open League Softball.

I began my career playing for my then-girlfriend’s church team. I was the “young stud” at 19 years of age, and I played a pretty amazing shortstop if I must say so myself. That season in 1993 would be the first of many.  I ultimately would put my own team together, managing and playing for nearly a decade. I was even out on the field just a few days after my first child was born. I would play through root canals and kidney stones and gout (yes – I was in my 20’s!).

But, one day, my son turned five.  And, it was his turn to play, and I would hang up my cleats.  I can remember my wife and me talking about the fact that I was not playing softball.  She thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie with the other families who attended the games, as did I. This was something that had been a part of our lives for many years, and it was tough to put it aside.

I can recall discussions about figuring out schedules so I could still coach my son, while still managing the softball team and continuing to play through the spring and summer. But, the more I considered how that would impact our schedule, the less interested I became in trying to make it work.

It was certainly the right decision for our family.  With a five year old now playing baseball, and with me coaching, along with an almost two-year old son in the picture, we didn’t need to add anything to our plate. Not without subtracting something else.

All too often, I see families who compromise themselves by continuing to pile on the activities and the commitments, while never eliminating something else.  They just pull out the proverbial shoe horn and wedge it in. At the same time, they convince themselves that the sacrifice is worth it because “it’s for the kids.” And, while little Johnny may now be on the elite travel team, and sister Jenny is now a concert pianist at age 8, the family dynamic is disjointed and chaotic.

You see, sometimes good things (like softball) need to be removed so that better things (like my son playing baseball) don’t get slighted. Perhaps for you it’s a hobby that you truly love that is causing you to miss out on quality time with your spouse or kids.  Maybe you have allowed your kids’ activities to crowd out things like participating in a small group Bible study. Or, the occasional “girls night out” has evolved into a weekly gathering that pulls you away from those who love you the most.

But, there is some great news! You hold the key to changing things and aligning your heart’s priorities with your life’s activities. It will take some adjusting and maybe some difficult conversations. But, in the end, you’ll win – and so will your family.

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