It had been a busy week (aren’t they all?) and we finally had a free Friday night at home, just the four of us. The weather was supposed to be great; we had no where to go. I was looking forward to it all week!
But we decided my husband should probably mow the yard – the grass was a foot high in the backyard. I decided I’d do something fun and special with the kids. So, I bought some flowers thinking the 3 of us could plant together while my husband mowed the yard.
Sounds lovely, right?
We did have fun – and we did have some moments to talk about how great God is to help the plants grow, the rain fall and the sun shine. But then things just became frustrating. My 5-year-old didn’t plant the flowers right (that’s my type A controlling personality setting in) and he made a mess with the watering can. My 2-year-old was a disaster. She must have ate dirt at one point because it was all over her mouth, she dumped out a bag of plant food, found an Easter egg somewhere in the yard and ate whatever was inside, and got her head stuck in the arm of a patio chair.
By the time we got in the house, the sun was beginning to set and we were covered in dirt and grass stains. It was late, we were all hungry and cranky, and the house was a mess. All I wanted to do was stand in the kitchen and scream!
But I didn’t. We had a frantic dinner, fast baths, a few books; and then once the kids were in bed, I put our house back in some kind of order.
Later that night I reflected on our “relaxing family night.” I realized that I had forgotten what this night was supposed to be about. As a working mom, my time at home is precious. I felt like I had wasted an opportunity to enjoy time with my kids. I felt like a failure.
I knew there was a God moment in all of this, but I was having a hard time figuring out where. So, I prayed – I asked God to help me figure out how this perceived failure could apply to my faith journey, to my family’s faith journey. Where, exactly, God can I see You in a night like this?!?
My answer came in church that Sunday morning – only a short day and a half later.
During our Pastor’s message that Sunday, he posed the question – can we really multitask? Many of us think we can. The gospel was the story from Luke 24 about the disciples on the road to Emmaus. This was right after the women ran to tell the disciples that Jesus was not in the tomb. Two disciples were walking along the road and discussing the events in Jerusalem when a third person joined them. They did not recognize that this was Jesus until later that evening when Jesus broke bread with the group.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:30-32
The disciples failed to enter fully into the discussion with this “stranger” along the road, and they missed many opportunities to recognize Jesus that day. We can learn from this – we need to always fully engage in life, and truly listen and focus when we interact with other people. Our Pastor reminded us in his message that as we fully engage in life, we shouldn’t be surprised when God shows up.
That is what I had failed at on that Friday night. I did not fully engage with my kids because I was multitasking; I made the act of getting the flowers planted more important than just being with my kids – and who knows how many God moments I missed along the way.
This is not something that can change overnight. In this world with so many distractions, it is a constant struggle. But being aware helps us to be deliberate about becoming fully engaged with our kids – which in the end will help us be better parents.
By the way – the flowers are growing nicely. We still go outside together to water them – with much less chaos than the night we planted them (usually).