I am the poster boy
for overcommitment. And I'm not particularly proud of
that. We all have our weaknesses, and if I look at my life in
the last decade, running too fast has been mine. Oh, I could
justify that it's nearly all good stuff that I run toward--I'm not the
guy blowing two hours watching trash TV or playing two rounds of golf
a week while my sons wonder why Dad never shows up for their games.
I could match my
attendance at kids' games with nearly any parent and come out on
top. I could rationalize that I've never had a nervous breakdown
or resorted to any sort of illicit drug--pop isn't illegal, is it?--to
keep myself going.
Still, I have to
face the reality that I'm far busier than I should be.
The good news is,
I'm changing; the bad news is, that's like a 400-pound man saying he's
going on a diet.
At times, my weeks
have this Houdini quality about them: I bind myself in handcuffs
and crawl into a trunk. The trunk is wrapped with chains.
Then the trunk is dropped to the bottom of the East River to see if I
can break free and swim to the surface without drowning.
Thus far, I've
gotten out of the jam every time, broken the surface of the water just
before my lungs are about to burst.
But though that
might equate to success in the world's eyes, it does not in God's
eyes. Because enslaving ourselves like that asks a price, though
we're often so desperately trying to unshackle ourselves that we don't
take time to notice.
For me, that price
has been a number of things:
A subtle, but
real, loss of patience: When you're tired, anger more easily
gains a foothold on you. It may not be a four-letter-word,
dog-kicking, fist-slamming barrage of anger, but I know it's
there. And I know it sometimes gets used against the people I
love the most.
A subtle, but
real, loss of creativity: When you're tired, you're more apt to
settle for the ordinary when, somewhere deep inside, you might find
A subtle, but
real, loss of control over the more mundane aspects of life:
checking accounts that need more consistent pruning, financial matters
that need more plowing and planting, closets and dressers that need
more consistent weeding.
But the more
serious price has come in the areas that I'm called to make my
priorities: my relationship with God and my relationship with
others, in particular my wife.
I've given time to
both, but it hasn't been the quantity, or quality, they deserve.
Again, I look good on paper: I'm an elder at our church, I teach
Sunday school, I occasionally preach a sermon, I speak to men's
groups. But I know, deep down, that God doesn't want a resume from
me; He wants a relationship with me. And when you wedge
God into your daily planner as if He were just another line on the
To-Do List, that relationship suffers.
Likewise, I could
point out trips I've taken with my wife, presents I've given her,
dinners out we've shared. But I know, deep down, that she'd
trade such things for more consistent "ordinary" time with
me, time that might be nothing more than a walk around the block but
which is given with my full attention, not as some sort of
parenthetical phrase in the midst of a more significant sentence. . .
I've come to learn
that you can't have it all. So you have to decide what you want
and what you're willing to give up. Some people decide what they
want more than anything is to be successful in business and thus are
willing to sacrifice their family to get there. I'm not among
them. . . .
I believe we're
called to give our best to God; our work should be done with gusto and
quality. But we're also called to lives of balance, and when we
get out of balance, our work becomes a legalistic
going-through-the-motions, not something filled with heart. Our
work becomes more important than the people who it's intended
for. Our lives are guided by our heads and not our hearts.
this collection of heartwarming, introspective stories,
you'll find Welch's examinations of the things in life that
are truly important: the people you cherish, the
dreams you share, and the talents God has given exclusively
to you. You'll be reminded of the things that make
life so special: love, friendships, and building
relationships that last a lifetime.