Why I’m Glad We’re Quitters

By March 19, 2012Guest Posts

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(Note from Kat: Today’s guest post is from Jane Graham.)

There was a time when a mere sideways glance at our family calendar made my eyes blur.  Scheduled days tumbled into frenetic evenings spent running from one place to the next, and I was missing my kids. 

I tucked them in at night, wishing for more time. I considered letting them skip school, and fantasized about whisking them off to some secret tide pool at the edge of the ocean where we could sit and play and talk.

Despite my efforts to carve out a few small slices of sacred time, I felt like I was losing the battle. I felt as though this thing with little numbered squares—this calendar—was dictating a life that I didn’t want to live.

So this summer as leaves hinted at the autumn to come, my husband and I talked about our priorities and about the kind of home we wanted to shelter. We laid out his job responsibilities, my own increasing workload, athletics, music lessons, and church commitments.

Not surprisingly, we decided that something had to go. The tough part was finding consensus on where to let the scalpel fall when each item on the list seemed to be important and worthy of our investment.

Can you believe that at the end of the night we decided to step away from our Wednesday night church activities?

 (GASP!)

I’ll be honest—I struggled with that for a little while. I thought, how can we leave a Jesus thing? How can I pull my kids from this program? What about their spiritual formation?

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But then softly, like the loving Father he is, God spoke into my fears and uncertainty, reminding me that the spiritual formation of our children, while aided and blessed by our church, was ultimately our job anyway.

He reminded me that what my husband and I say and do and model within the walls of our home will make a much more indelible imprint upon their fledgling hearts than anything coming from an outside voice.

He assured me that sometimes even good things are not always beneficial.

Our family needed that extra night to be together and not scattered; we needed to reconnect.

To do devotions after supper without rushing out the door to the next event.

To sit in the quiet and read a book together.

To model Jesus right in our own living room.

For us, this year has been the most peaceful and relaxed in recent memory. And while we’ve had to tweak and re-order other areas of our life, making this one decision has radically changed the pace and joy in our home.

Next time your calendar feels like it’s taking on a life of its own, reconsider your priorities. Shut yourself away from the world and the expectations of others and listen for that still, small voice guiding your every step.

Often, I’ve found, the hardest choices are looked back on as the sweetest.

Have you struggled to maintain a healthy calendar of family commitments? What have you let go of? Click here to join the discussion.

 

About the Author:
Jane Graham and her family enjoy sand underfoot and sun overhead. Her husband and three children keep her busy making cookies and giant water-balloon launchers. She blogs about faith at girlmeetspaper.com, and about intentional parenting at unofficialhomeschooler.com.

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21 Comments

  • Jane, I share your sentiments. I recently had to give up a yoga class that I LOVED teaching. Not because it didn’t “fit” the schedule, but because it was making my schedule so rushed with my kids after school. I ultimately want them to understand that I love them and value slowing down to spend time with them, and rushing them through homework and dinner so I could get out the house was certainly not sending that message.

    • Jane says:

      Good for you, Keya! I can sympathize, as my yoga Groupon is quickly running out and I’ve barely made it into Downward-Facing Dog. Such a bummer, but sometimes those after school moments are worth the sacrifice! Thanks for your comment!

  • I so agree with this! It is hard to decide what needs to be “cut out” when everything seems important. We also don’t join our Thursday night church event – much as I’d like to, I think adding the “busyness” to our schedule would just be too much for my family. It does still give me some guilt, so I appreciate your perspective!

    • Jane says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Pam. It’s easy to “go-with-the-flow” and do what our Christian culture suggests, but sometimes we have to be brave enough to say that it’s not a good fit for our own families! Good job for bowing out of Thursday nights!

  • I get it and we regularly have talks about where to tweak and prune. On the other had, as our kids get bigger we are unwilling to just cut out stuff that matters to them. We encourage them to develop their own passions/giftings and to be involved in service so when they step out in these areas, we want to support them, as much as possible. At this season of life, then, I am more willing to cut back on my own out of the home commitments than theirs.

    • Spring says:

      Thanks for sharing this- this is the season we are in as well. My kids are getting older and are starting to hone in on their own passions, and I have cut back my involvement in outside things (including church things) to make room for their passions, as well as making sure we still have plenty of together time. Navigating keep enough outlets for myself to remain healthy, too, though! (I homeschool my kids, so they are with me more than many kids at their age… which is wonderful, and exhausting) 😉

    • Jane says:

      I can see your point, Kika. As kids get older we certainly do have to consider their passions. Right now ours are small enough to make those decisions for them, but the day will be coming when that may have to change! Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  • Amber Dalton says:

    Recently my husband and I realized that tv shows weren’t necessarily rushing us, but were cutting into our time with the kids. We made the surprisingly difficult decision to have our satellite service ended and now only watch movies. We have found that we turn to family time now when dinner is over. If only I could get my son off of the video games, life would be close to perfect!

  • Lisa says:

    Our family went through a similar process, choosing to step back from hosting a small group and attending Sunday night church activities. The extra space of time has allowed us to laugh and play together as a family!

  • Melanie says:

    Congrats on making this choice for your family! 🙂 For the last year, I’ve worked 3 part-time jobs in the afternoons/evenings from home after homeschooling my 3 young boys each morning: web designer, graphic designer, and home party consultant. Even though our family still needs the income these jobs produce, I made the decision recently to give up 2 of them. I’ve been soooooo busy working that I’ve had very little time to really enjoy anything I’m doing–my family *or* my work–and freeing up that time has made a huge difference in my well being and, therefore, in my family’s (“If Mama aint’ happy, ain’t nobody happy!”) 😉 I feel like I’ve opened up time for God to speak to me and now I’m also thinking that I’ll “give up” Facebook, too!

    • Jaime says:

      Melanie, I gave up facebook a year ago and while I had fun connecting with old friends the time it took and the way I felt after being on, made the decision very easy. It was a good move for me. What’s nice is you can disconnect your account but always go back with the same email address and everything is still there- so try giving it up for a week and then see what you think! I also have been teaching a bible study for the past five years (and was a group leader for 5 prior to that) for an international christian organization and it takes a good 10-12 hours a week, some times more sometimes less- but with the advent of child 4 arriving in May and the fact we are homeschooling- God led me to understand that there are seasons and this was a season my focus and energy needed to be homeward! I will miss teaching the class but will love for the first time in 10 years, having that time freed up for family. Changes can be hard but they can be very freeing as well 🙂

  • Jane says:

    Melanie, I applaud you for making the hard choice to give up 2 jobs, especially when the income is still needed. I’m convinced that God shows faithfulness when we step out in trust; I pray that you’ll find the same to be true in your life! Thanks for your comment!

  • Joyce says:

    Thank you for this post Jane. I want to be a quitter, but I can’t. We actually decided that we wouldn’t sign up for all those extra things that would overwhelm us (although our kids are still young, but I’m hoping things won’t change too much). I think our friends think we’re crazy that we don’t have classes or games or practices, and that we actually sit down for dinner together every night as a family. I think I would just go insane if I was shuffling from there to here and here to there. But I do know some people thrive on that rush though.

    • Jane says:

      Joyce,
      I don’t think you can over-emphasize the importance and blessing of sitting down to dinner each night as a family! I saw a statistic a while ago on kidsneedcamp.com about the number of minutes of “meaningful conversation” some kids and parents get each week, and it stunned me. While some chide that the stats are not reliable, the lesson is the same. Kids need time with their families! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • Melissa Jackson says:

    I guess that I see it too many times that some families fill up their calendars and choose to cut back on church activities. Now I understand that some churches have it where there is something going on almost every day/night of the week. So obviously in that situation you would have to pray about what to participate in and what is a good fit for your families.

  • What a perfect example of Philippians 1:10. A wise friend once said that choosing what’s best sometimes means saying no to something good. God will bless your choice. Thanks for sharing it with us!
    Michelle

  • Rhonda says:

    Good for you for being a quitter! Church commitments can add stresses to families, just as commitments in other areas. And sometimes, our pastors and ministry leaders don’t realize things are getting too busy unless we tell them, or stop coming to everything that is scheduled.

    Another thing to think about: we are involved in limited church ministry, and want our children to be as well. But we are also involved, as a family, in community ministry – a perfect opportunity to serve others in the name of Jesus who would never walk in the door of a church.

  • Jamie Ivey says:

    Oh is this a battle that we have around here! Over Spring Break we did NOTHING and for a few seconds I felt bad about how much time we stayed home and then I realized it was so good and sweet. We did NOTHING and it was good. We didn’t run around from one activity to the next. We did nothing!

    I try so hard as busy as our lives can get to schedule as many adult things after the kids go to bed. I’ll meet people for dinner and have a late dinner so that even though we have a sitter we have tucked our kids in, sat at the table together and done night time stuff together.

    This is a challenge I battle daily.

    Thanks for your encouragement!

  • Mom2-5 says:

    This is something that I wish I could impart to many other families that are sooo busy with busy-ness itself, that there’s no time for the main point -our family, the first ministry. We, too, do not attend weeknight events at church, as it’s totally paradox to what God has given us to accomplish with our home (order, prompt bedtimes, family devotion time…). You really have to be talking to God daily about your calendar agenda and approving it with Him.