‘Save My Life’ – that’s the song on our playlist in the car that has been speaking into my heart. Today I listened to it anew – and it reminded me of a message I’d written for our church magazine a few years ago. The timing felt right to update the piece and post it for my blog readers, so here you go!
As I was entering marriage, my mother gave me some great advice about welcoming my husband home from work:
“Never let the dog greet him more warmly than you do.”
The idea might seem humorously absurd, but it does contain a precious nugget of truth: our nearest and dearest deserve the best of us, and we should not fail to give them our love and attention.
It’s now been close to fifteen years since West and I got married, and although we haven’t got a dog to greet us at the door, we do have a gaggle of boys vying for our attention.
There’s a lot going on in our household, and I definitely find that the everyday chaos of life can get in the way of my intentions to give my family the best of me. I’m busy making dinner, sending an email, sorting out my ‘to-do’ list, trying to get everyone where they need to be at the time they need to be there, or simply trying to carve out the head-space to think and plan more than an hour into the future. Talk to any Mama and I’ll bet you’ll find it’s the same for her – and we mothers aren’t the only ones who struggle with managing a multitude of tasks alongside our family’s needs.
So often our lives become so full of ‘doing’ that we allow Life – the real stuff – to happen around us. We end up missing out on interactions with others because life is busy – so busy, in fact, that sometimes we don’t even bother to look up when someone we love enters the room. And what of those who are more peripheral to our everyday lives – how many times do we fail to really notice the people around us?
It takes energy to maintain relationships and show that we care, and if we’re honest we must admit that sometimes we’d just prefer not to expend that energy. Relationships are messy. Truth is, we often end up disappointing the people who most crave our regard because of our unwillingness to make and maintain connections with others.
What would our faith be like if Jesus had just opted out of Relationship? Of course, the idea is ridiculous – Relationship is the reason we were placed on the earth: firstly, that we might enjoy a relationship with our Creator; and secondly, that we might enjoy relationships with those around us. It is the most important thing.
We all go through seasons of life where we just put our heads down and push on. Sometimes our work and familial obligations pile up – our time seems to be scheduled down to the nanosecond, and we feel that we must rush to ‘do, do, do’ in order to accomplish all the necessary tasks; sometimes we find ourselves in a period of illness or convalescence, and everything ‘normal’ just feels like hard work and too much trouble; sometimes we’re in a new situation and our energy is sapped just trying to find our way. But how often do we manage to put our own agenda and needs aside to make ourselves available to others?
If we are created by God to be in relationship, can we allow ourselves to forfeit the chance to have real relationships with people when we make excuses like we’re ‘too busy’ to make new friends, or ‘too old,’ or when we don’t bother trying because we think that ‘nobody will get me’? What’s stopping us from being to others the friend that we wish we had?
What if, no matter what season of life we were in, we just stopped – and started to live life with our heads up?
Living life with your head up means being willing to engage in the lives of others, being aware of the needs of those around us, and being willing to do what we can to meet those needs. It means engaging with others in a caring, intentional way. It means nurturing our relationships instead of neglecting them. We are never too old, too young, or too busy to contribute to the lives of others.
The next time you’re in your workplace, picking your kids up from school, or just out running errands, I encourage you to remember to look up and really engage with those around you.
When we remember to look up from the things or activities that more commonly draw our attention and focus, we really see the people in our midst. Let’s make ourselves available to those around us.
I, for one, am striving to live life with my head up.