Dear Sir:My son and his wife are always going to church. They are involved in a church activity every night of the week. Their small children are suffering for lack of attention. I am also concerned about their marriage, which seems not to be so healthy these past months. I am concerned because it seems they have become so busy working for the Lord that they are neglecting to nurture their own souls. What can we do about it? Signed: Concerned Grandmother.
Answer: Dear Concerned Grandmother. It is true too many of us are so busy going to church and are so involved in church activities that we have neglected to care for our own souls. We are so involved helping others, until we have lost the intimate connection with Jesus. The devil is smart. He knows that one of the most effective ways to weaken Christians is to trap them in doing so much good until they end up being good for nothing.
This is a diabolical attack on the Christian family. It is now time for families to decide which days of the week they will keep the church doors closed in their mindís eyes. While I served as a school counselor, I met many children who were suffering academically and socially simply because their parents took them to church every night. They would come home from the meetings way past the normal, healthy bed time, and could not get sufficient rest before they had to rise early the next morning to go to school. They were often sleepy in classes, edgy, and nervous. Their school work performance was poor. What kind of image will these children have of God? Sometimes their parents are also shouting at each other, and it is all because they would not pause to take time to rest.
For the past six months, I have conducted many marriage seminars for churches and institutions. At each seminar I asked the couples to complete a marriage survey. Each time more than 70 percent of the couples indicated that being "too busy" was a serious challenge in their relationship.
"Exhausted and lonely one Monday afternoon, Sarah reached over and switched on the radio. It had been a rough weekend. Every request she made of the children had turned into a battle, and her husband had remained planted in front of the television. She couldnít recall if he had said a caring word to her or the children all weekend. It was like the old joke, she thought "Ask me how my day was," say the comedian. "All rightĖhow was your day?" "Donít Ask"
It was a bitter joke for Sarah. She didnít even want to think about how depressed she was. Maybe the radio would help. She flipped through the newspaper for the dayís radio listings. The topic on the Christian station was, "Help When Youíre Down." She recognized that speakerís name; he was a local, well-respected pastor. She tuned in to the station.
". . . so youíre down, troubled, lonely, youíre under crushing pressure. You wonder sometimes if things will ever change for you." "Is he reading my mind?" thought Sarah. He was describing her very feelings at the moment. He understood. "My friend, thereís an answer for you from the Word of God." Biblically based teaching was important to Sarah.
"The answer," said the pastor, "is to stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about others. Just as our Lord thought not of himself, but emptied himself for others, we will find joy in self-sacrifice and service. Get off the pity pot."
Sarahís heart dropped. "Peace in sharing? Iíve been sharing myself all weekend, and Iím in pieces, not at peace." She had no sooner formed these resentful words in her mind, that she immediately felt guilty. After all, the pastor was quoting the Bible. "I guess heís right," she told herself. "Iím just being selfish." She reached for the church bulletin to see what additional committee she could volunteer for. Maybe in serving more, sheíd find the happiness she longed for. But she was beginning to despair of ever being happy, and ever feeling satisfied about herself and her life.
Every day, well-intentioned Christians listen to messages similar to the one Sarah heard. That messageĖ"Stop thinking of your own needs"Ėis taught by sincere well-intentioned Christian teachers who only want to help people obey the Savior. The problem is that itís not a biblical message. Could this be the message many parents are hearing why they refuse to stop and care for themselves and their families?
We can be very active in church. We can even try to be nice and helpful to all we meet. However, the most helpful people in the world are those who have been helped. As Dr. Clouds writes it: "The most comforting people in the world are those who have been comforted; the most understanding people are those who have been understood; and the most loving people are those who have been loved."
Dear parents, please stay home tonight with your children. Give them time to grow and enjoy life. Provide for them the environment that has a healthy balance between leisure time, church, and school work. Remember, you can be so busy "working for the Lord" that you can destroy your relationship with him and your family. Some Christian husbands and wives are so holy and heavenly they are of no earthly good to their spouses. "Letís stay home to night baby." It is certainly time to close the church door and stay home to nurture your soul. Go to part two