A Springboard for You

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The Great American Struggle (An Excerpt)

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From Chapter 4, “Keeping the Family Together”

The Great American Struggle

Family life in 21st century America is not easy. Though, I imagine our New Testament counterparts would scoff at such a statement.

When we want to take a hot bath, we walk 10 feet into our bathroom and turn a couple of knobs. We do not have to take 15 trips to the river with two buckets and then light a fire to heat the water. If we want to cook a meal, we walk into the kitchen, put some food in a pan, turn some knobs on the oven and wait. Or, we pull something out of a freezer, shove it into a microwave, punch a few buttons and have a meal in five minutes. Or better yet, we hop in our air conditioned cars and drive ten minutes to a place where somebody else does the cooking for us. Few of us have to plow a field, plant and cultivate seed. Few of us have to raise cattle or hunt wild game. We do not have to chop down wood daily with which to cook our food. I we want to wear clothe, we drive to the store (again in our air conditioned cars) and buy some. We do not have to make thread, weave material and sew our own clothes. Then when those clothes are dirty, we sort them into piles of matching colors and dump them in machines that wash and cry them for us. We do not have to carry them down to the river, beat them on a rock, try to scrape the dirt and muck out of them and then hang them out to dry.

Let’s face it. Our lives really are easy. What took our New Testament brethren hours to do takes us minutes, if we have to do it at all. This actually means we have more leisure time available than anyone in history. Don’t close the book. I know what you are thinking. “Where does this nut get off saying I have all kinds of leisure time?” I am saying that because you and I do not have to spend most of every day just providing the bare necessities of life. We actually have enough time to work overtime and get paid time and a half. We actually enough time to put our kids in little league, football, soccer, scouts and other activities. Our new Testament brethren did not have enough time for all the things that make our lives hectic because they spent their time surviving.

All this leisure time, however, has given us our own set of hardships. Few of us struggle for the necessities of life. However, because we have so much leisure time and so many opportunities to pursue pastimes, many of us struggle regarding the necessities of maintaining proper family relationships and togetherness.

Consider the following family.

Mom and Dad want to provide the best in housing, clothing and education for little Billy and susie. Therefore they both work in the corporate world. They get up early to drop Billy and Susie at school. Billy and Susie are three years apart, so Dad carries Billy to middle school on his way to work and secretly thinks, “I sure am glad I am saving up enough money to buy Billy a car in a few years. When he turns sixteen he can take himself and Susie to school and i will have little more time to myself.” Mom drops Susie off at elementary school.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Billy has practice for the school play right after school. Then he has either little league or soccer after that. Mom or Dad rushes to pick up Susie from school, then goes to get Billy to take him from play practice to sports practice, then runs through the drive through to get something for the kids to eat. They let Susie eat in the car on the way to her Monday piano lessons and drop her off in time to pick Billy up from sports practice. he eats while they drive back to get Suzy. They hurry home to make the kids do their homework before shuffling them off to bed. Wednesday are tough because they have to fit all this in before Bible class.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Billy has baseball games or soccer matches, while Susie has softball practice. All of Susie’s softball games and tournaments are on the weekends. When the softball season is over, Susie’s Saturdays are filled with tennis lessons and competitions. On thursday, they also try to fit in scouts for both of the kids. Fortunately, the parents in each troop take turns picking up several of the kids from school and taking them to their various den and troop meetings.

Mom and Dad want to be active in Billy and Susie’s schooling. They work with both PTAs (elementary and middle school). They try to make it to all the parent-teacher conferences. Billy is in the band and Susie is in the choir and they attend all of their concerts and competitions.

On top of all this, Mom and Dad have lives of their own. They have to fit work into all this. Every once in a while they have to go on business trips. Further, they try to find time to pursue their personal hobbies. That is tough because of all the time they spend helping Billy and Susie with school projects.

Mom and Dad are Christians the hope Billy and Susie will be someday too. It is very important to them to make it to all the worship services and Bible classes. They do make it to most of them. However, to be honest, it does rumple their feathers a little when the preacher comments on how few people are getting their lessons completed. “Doesn’t he realize what an amazing eat it is for us to be here?” they wonder. They get to the building and shuffle the kids off to their classes and then go to theirs. They come into the worship assembly. The new preacher is big into getting all the kids to sit together, so the kids sit down on the front few rows away from their parents. The one making announcements talks about the training class for the boys taking place every Sunday afternoon, the Sunday night devotional for middle school and high school, the Bible drill for the elementary kids and the various special things members have set up for the various age groups.

When the family does get a few minutes to be together on a Friday or Saturday evening, they are so exhausted they decide to simply pop in a video or go to the movies. They sit next to each other but are mentally miles apart as they gaze upon the silver screen.

In the extremely few moments of solitude and meditation, Mom and Dad wonder how they can fit anything else into their schedule and are about ready to murder the author of a book who claims they have more leisure time than anyone in history.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Is it any wonder even Christian families are falling apart? With these kinds of schedules, when were these families ever sticking together? Add into this equation that time at home is often spent just as separate as time at school, work and church. The family are all within the same dwelling, but each member is doing his or her own thing. Each child has their own room, equipped with television, telephone or computer (with internet access). They can spend all evening in the same house with two to four other people and never actually se each other. 

This is the great American struggle–keeping the family together.

Check back in next Tuesday’s Springboard for Your Family Life to learn how to combat this great American struggle and have meaningful family time together.

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October 7, 2008 - Posted by | A Springboard for Your Family Life, Family Time, Raising Kids | , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. At the heart of the struggle is the true cause – misplaced priorities. But you know that! 🙂 I enjoyed reading this and look forward to the next installment.

    Comment by Denise | October 7, 2008

  2. Thanks Denise. Misplacing priorities is a huge deal and oh so easy. I actually wrote this a couple of years ago. As I was retyping it in here, I thought, “Oh man, how did I get from writing this chapter to where I am today.” That’s why I wanted to bring this back to the forefront, so I could remember to get my priorities back in the right spot.

    Comment by edwincrozier | October 7, 2008

  3. I was exhausted after reading that. Here in Athens, Ga, we usually have around 50 in attendance, and of those 50, 23 are age 10 and under. We certainly know this story all too well in our own family (4 kids) and it is a constant battle not to become too involved. We try to limit our children to 1 activity (sports, music, scouts, ect.) at a time. This has helped some but it still seems like we run ourselves to death at times. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Brad | October 9, 2008

  4. Hey Brad,

    I know the feeling. We are pretty restrictive as well but seem like we are always running.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

    Comment by edwincrozier | October 9, 2008

  5. […] The Great American Struggle […]

    Pingback by Meaningful Together Time (an excerpt) « A Springboard for You | October 14, 2008

  6. […] last two Springboards for Your Family Life as part of this series, I encourage you to read “The Great American Struggle” and “Meaningful Together Time” first. That will get you caught up for this final […]

    Pingback by The Church and Family Togetherness (an excerpt) « A Springboard for You | October 21, 2008


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