I really wanted to go. To be away three days means turning down a couple of invitations for me to speak but I blocked off the dates so I can bring my entire family for a “family retreat” organized by the nice folks of Christ Commission Fellowship. This is important to me.
The three days of fun-filled activities were great. The lectures superb and it’s such a great feeling listening, learning and absorbing this time when most of my life is predicated on standing on the stage and delivering a lecture. All through out the teaching and the testimonials, the one prevailing thought of mine is that nobody grows into becoming an expert in parenting.
Families have to deal with issues all the time.
For example, a family was preparing to do some separate Christmas shopping at the mall. Before they split up, the father said, “Let’s synchronize our watches and agree to meet in the parking lot at five o’clock sharp.” The four adjusted their respective watches. Then the mother turned to the father, and with hand outstretched said, “O.K. Now let’s all synchronize our wallets!”
Money is an issue to many families I know.
What about relatives that live with them?
A couple’s happy married life almost went on the rocks because of the presence in the household of old Auntie Emma. For seven long years she lived with them, always complaining, always demanding.
Finally the old lady died. On the way back from the cemetery, the husband confessed to his wife, “Darling, if I didn’t love you so much, I don’t think I would have put up with having your Auntie Emma in the house all those years.” His wife looked at him aghast. “My Auntie Emma! She cried. I thought she was your Auntie Emma!” Who really is Auntie Emma and nobody bothered to check!
Even families who have to bear with their father’s wealth and eccentricity are longing for the day when death will come and the agony to be replaced by the inheritance to be received. They have their problems too. Consider this story:
The relatives were gathered for the reading of the Last Will And Testament after the long awaited death.
The lawyer opened the envelope, and read solemnly:
“Being of sound mind and body, I spent every last cent before I died.”
There are fathers who are extremely authoritative and controlling. Always wielding money and inheritance as their whips to get their children to do what he wants. And on the extreme side of the pendulum there are absentee fathers who are just too apathetic leaving the role of leading the family to the wife or someone else. How do we strike a balance?
My house is a mess. Our master’s bedroom is cluttered and untidy. The Ilocana has settled down to the fact that its current state is serving its purpose. I travel all the time. I do corporate training and keynotes that would make me travel to all parts of the country and sometimes abroad as well. But in most instances I will depart on the day I have to speak and take another flight and come home on the same day so I would have time to have dinner with my children. Now this is why my house is messy.
It’s rare that our family would have dinner on our dinner table. These are special occasions reserved only when my two daughters prepare gourmet meals for us. But most of the time we would have picnics in our master’s bedroom. Dinner is always a great time for us to pray together, share stories, watch a movie together, have fun and just enjoy each other’s company. No lectures, no heavy and hard stuff and no talk about business.
My house is a mess. I kid you not. Ask for hot sauce and we readily have it in our bedroom. The place is littered with a lot of ‘stuff” but this is home for us. I have actually invited obsessive compulsive and over-controlling fathers to visit my house and observe our master’s bedroom and it has been therapeutic to them!
Here is my guiding philosophy as to why I let this happen. Strength of character may be acquired at work, but beauty of character is learned at home.
I would rather have a messy house but a great loving home and enjoy dinner with my family. A Chinese proverb says: Better a cottage where one is merry than a palace where one weeps! George Moore says it so well: “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”
I am finding it and the question I ask you now is: “Are you?”