Practicing with Children

Overwhelmed

busy busy busy–By Chris Lenshyn

It is the inevitable dinner table conversation my wife and I try to have every fall; THE FAMILY SCHEDULE (insert epic yet suspenseful music here). That which seemingly governs our life… what we can and what we can’t do. The time of the year where we take a look at the wonderful things that we could do and actually figure out if any of it is practically possible. We look at our eldest son’s kindergarten schedule, include his music lessons, and wonder about what sports to sign him up for. Then we plug in our church activities, care-group and other involvements. We factor in my dynamic pastor work schedule, my wife’s schedule, and the apparent ease of dragging our 1 year old wherever and whenever it is convenient.

We are certainly feeling it this year. The schedule is delicate. Like a nightmare puzzle where you hope the pieces fit so much that you jam them together, almost as if caught in a hopeful ignorance that they will fit together if only you force it enough. If one thing changes or goes all whacky, it seems the whole thing comes a tumblin’ down and we are stuck trying to put “humpty dumpty” back together again.

Katrina and I realized doing it once a year is not enough. We are just starting the practice of going over the weekly schedule Sunday night in an attempt to get some control over the madness. It is a good practice, but it is also revealing. We are busy people. Our children are busy children. Then I begin to worry we are becoming the parents I never wanted to become… thankfully we aren’t driving a minivan yet.

A few years ago, before we had children I found myself in a conversation about schedules with a parent of a student in my youth group. She reflected on the tough reality that they hardly had any time as a family because of all the extracurricular activates they had. The answer in my head was clear. “Don’t sign up for so much stuff.” Experience now screams at me that this is a reality far more difficult to pull off. Oh how lack-of-experience ignorance can be bliss.

The problem is that we want so much for our kids. Asher loves music, so we sign him up for music. He loves sports, so we look for a good sport to sign him up for. Add in the anxiety of not wanting our children to be left out and next thing we know, our eldest son is busy. It is funny how our anxieties sometimes impact those around us. Including and especially our children. In a world that perpetuates and encourages consumption of both time and resources, this should not come as a surprise. Moving at a different, slower pace is difficult. As such, being grounded in a faith that calls us to be obedient to a slower, different pace of life is both challenging and tremendously empowering.

We need not look any further than the worldview shaping creation narratives we read in Genesis. God creates the world and all the things in it. God creates woman and man in God’s divine image and calls them as people made in God’s image to tend over creation. Then God rests. So, we have humanity made in the image of a creative, nature loving God who rests. Last time I checked, taxiing kids around 7 days a week is not rest. They don’t get rest because they are all over the place. Parents don’t get rest because they are all over the place. Sure, it is recreational, different than school or work, but it is not intentional.

One thing I’ve learned is that giving up anxieties is a difficult thing to do. Giving up anxieties that are actually grounded in an overly fast paced world is a difficult thing to do. It is all the more reason to be intentional about what kind of people, parents we want to be. Do we want to be parents who fall into the craziness of extracurricular things to do, or will we be content with time at home, allowing our children to simply play with their friends in the front while we sip on a nice cup of black, home roasted, fair trade coffee allowing the presence of God to just simply sit within us.

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