This has been a very American kind of week. What do I mean by that? Hmm…yeah. In one of my previous incarnations, the one as a suburban soccer mom, rushing was a way of life, and the family calendar in multiple formats was indispensable. Trying to keep up with school meetings, husband’s night meetings, at least two soccer teams, my own work schedule, church stuff, and yet trying to maintain a strong family life was totally and absolutely crazy!! The next incarnation, as a Lifeteen missionary in formation while balancing a family was not much better on some days. Daily classes, work projects, the intense community life…then add one preteen and one teenager/young adult into the mix. It wasn’t the logistics of getting everyone where they were supposed to be as much as it was making the emotional time for everyone. Missionary formation is spiritually and emotionally intense, intentionally. Navigating your kids’ growing up years is too.
In Germany, my husband (aka the native German) has had an intense schedule from the beginning. Logistics for him have been crazy, and continue to be a work in progress. For the rest of us, we have not had physical logistical issues as much as emotional. Working our way into the culture and into the language has been hard, and emotional at times. Working through those homesick days has been even tougher, especially when more than one of us has been having a rough day. The scheduling has been a snap for the most part, though. Since September, things have seemed to settled down. School, soccer, work, community life, church, have all basically balanced.
Then came this week. All of us going in all different directions; two jobs, appointments, soccer practice, lousy weather. Not to mention one totally awful bout of homesickness. Not to mention navigating through a session of preteen clothes turmoil.
What I think I have figured out this week is that the scheduling turmoil, the ‘hurry up’ mentality really made the homesickness and the teen drama a lot worse. The two fed off each other, about the same way the winter storm and Hurricane Sandy fed off each other. And when I allow my family structure to be caught between a hurricane and a winter storm, the structure falls apart or, at a minimum, is a lot weaker. If you cannot sit down as a family to re-connect, in spite of what everyone has to do then are you truly living as a family? Are you truly fulfilling your vocation as a parent and spouse?
I think that it is really important for families to keep that strong core, that sense that everything comes second to family. Being part of a family is a vocation. If we fill our lives with so many activities that we can’t live out our family vocation…is that really serving God, who has given us this vocation? If on Friday, it seems like my family has not really seen each other all week, that may be a sign to sit down and figure out how to make more regular time for each other. It may be a sign that life needs to be simplified, so that our vocation can be fruitful again.
(By the way, our prayers and thoughts have been going out to all the hurricane victims and their families. I hope you and all your relatives are safe, and that things get back to normal soon if you’ve been slammed by Sandy)