Yesterday I opened the refrigerator door and found this:
I’ll give you a brief moment to locate the problem (although I am confident that you saw it immediately).
- Too many eggs? Yes, but not the problem.
- Refrigerator way too organized…kind of like it was staged? Well, yes. I did indeed tidy up my fridge knowing that I’d be posting a photo. But still, not the problem.
- Way too many vegetables? One can never have too many fresh vegetables!
- Aloe Juice, really? Yes, it’s great for an upset stomach.
This is the problem:
The guilty party, whose identity is still unknown to me, decided that instead of finishing all of the orange juice, they would kindly leave a mere sip for the next poor soul. This is kind of a big deal in our home. I rarely purchase juice, so to have orange juice in the refrigerator is an event. To have this amount of orange juice left in the container is a crime.
I imagine that some of you are shaking your head in agreement. You’ve experienced the nearly empty milk container, the crumbs left in the bottom of the cereal box, and the ice cream container with 1/4 teaspoon left. How frustrating it can be when we are left feeling unsatisfied!
I believe that the frustration that develops from these incidents has little to do with juice, cereal, or ice cream. The frustration comes from the fact that someone thought that the next person to come along would be satisfied with little. They believed that the left over scraps would be just enough for someone else to get by with. Somehow that person was content with filling their cup to capacity, while leaving the next person’s cup nearly empty. The real root of our frustration is the selfishness of the other party.
Staring at that nearly empty orange juice container got me thinking. How often do I leave little for the ones I love? It’s likely more than I may realize.
In a time of full schedules and over-commitment, where our time is portioned out into neat bundles, we can have the tendency to push our loved ones to the last vacancy on the list. We use the little spare time that we do have and selfishly cling onto it often filling it with mindlessness and nonsense. Are we filling our cup to the brim, but leaving nothing but crumbs for those around us? Our spouse, our children, and yes, most often our Lord, are left with the remnants, the bits and pieces of what we decide to leave them with. Somehow we believe the lie that they will be satisfied with the little we give. Somehow we envision that a relationship can flourish and thrive when we leave those we love most with the smallest bit of us.
This is an area that I have been greatly convicted about in my own life. I can spend far too much time on the computer. Much of my time is spent doing things that I must do: preparing for school, doing lesson plans, planning activities for some of my boys’ groups, and running our produce co-op. I try my best to work on those things early in the morning or late at night. But if I am honest with myself, there are times that I can get distracted from the work at hand.
Distractions can lead us down a road of cute puppy videos, gluten free recipes, silly quizzes, and games. Nothing satisfying. Nothing of significance. All void of meaning. Distractions take us away from what is most important. Distractions rob those around us. Distractions announce our priorities without us uttering a word. Distractions flat out can waste our precious time.
I completely understand that a balance needs to be found in life. Work does indeed need to be completed. Errands do need to be run. And, yes indeed, you do need to find a bit of down time to relax, rest, and recharge.
The problem rests in our habits, in the everyday patterns we form. Is checking your email and browsing online taking priority over prayer and time in the Word? Are tweeting and texting causing you to tell your child, “Just one more minute,” for the fifth time in a row? Is a good book or just one more chapter replacing a goodnight snuggle with your spouse? Occasionally? Or, everyday?
I am rather confident that if each of us really evaluated our day and honestly looked at how we spend our time, we could identify areas where change is warranted. Certainly we could make a list of things that can wait. We could prioritize and make time for the things that truly matter. We can make sure that our loved ones are not feasting on leftovers.
The other day hubby and the boys were playing football. I thought that this would be the opportune time to complete this post, a post that has been sitting in my draft file for nearly six weeks. So I got to work. After typing a mere two sentences, my older son came inside and asked, “We’re walking down to the high school track; want to come.”
I paused before I opened my mouth. There was a huge part of me that simply wanted to get this post done and finished. But then I realized that my sixteen year old son had just requested to hang out with his mother. Really, do I even need to think about this? Not at all. I closed out the post, strapped on my sneakers, and enjoyed the beautiful weather and fresh air my family.
Just this evening, as the boys were finishing up showers and such, I sat down to put the finishing touches on this post. Shortly after I sensed someone behind me. It was my youngest son.
“Wow, you finished up quickly,” I said.
“Yep,” was his simple answer.
“Want to do something before bed? Play checkers? Battleship?”
“How about you finish up what you are doing first,” he said.
I paused. I knew exactly where that would lead.
“Nope. This can wait. You are far more important than this. Grab a game.”
I mention these incidents not to boast but instead to illustrate that we are given many opportunities during the day to make choices. With each decision we make a choice to either fill someone’s cup or to leave it nearly empty.
I try to remind myself that anything worthwhile requires time…dedicated time, not distracted time. There are no shortcuts here. We cannot expect to have meaningful relationships with our children if they do not have our undivided attention. We cannot have a strong bond with our spouse if we continue to feed them our leftovers. We cannot expect a closeness and oneness with our Lord if the world takes priority over the Word. That is reality.
So the next time you are left with a drop of coffee in the pot, or an 1/8 of a brownie, or the last blueberry in the container (seriously, how mean can you be?), let it serve as a reminder to take a different road and to leave our loved ones filled to the brim.