The most important thing about family?

I sometimes get asked to write for a men’s magazine called Sorted. The editor, Steve Legg, contacted me a couple of weeks ago to ask if I’d write an article on the subject of Family, but the deadline was just a couple of days away. We were getting ready to go up North, for what was had been booked as a holiday yet ended up as a very busy time, which I’ll write about again.

Anyway, I initially figured I could squeeze the time in to write the article, along with all the other things I had to do for work. All it would take was : less helping at home, spending less time with Zoe and the kids, creating more stress for myself and everyone, putting in more time in the study – doing ‘the work of the Lord.’ I could probably even do it so they’d all feel guilty if they tried interrupting such important work, I’m a past master at it.

Then again, I nearly lost my family doing just that years ago – ended up in marriage counselling as a result – so finally I thought it better just to say to reply to Steve’s e-mail; ‘sorry mate, can’t do it.’

Now it was very hard for me, as a man, to press send on an e-mail admitting to not actually being able to do everything. It was hard to say no. It was hard to say no to a friend. It was hard to say no to more ‘work’ ( you might not class it as work, but it’s what I do!) in order to say yes to family time.

The fact is, I can quantify how many hours I put in, but I can’t quantify how well I’m doing as a Dad, or as a husband. Perhaps that’s why many blokes end up putting their all into their work, laying everything on that altar, because it all ‘counts’ somehow, whereas we never really know how well we’re doing in the area of family.

Despite the e-mail refusal, the subject of family still ticked away in the back of my mind. As we sat down together for an meal that day, I asked my son and daughter, “What do you think the most important thing about family is?”

Joel (14) said, “You should all trust each other enough to tell each other what you are thinking, whatever that is.” The fact that he said it, proved to me he does. Fantastic!

Hannah has just turned 18, and what she said was, in my opinion, really quite profound – showing what a high E.Q. she has. After a few moments thought, she volunteered, “I think the most important thing about families is that we need to remember that the other people in the family are, themselves, people – not just roles.”

I asked her to explain that a little. “Well,” she said, “it’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve come to realise – you’re not just ‘my Dad,’ and Mum’s not just ‘my Mum,’ but you are separate people – with your own ideas, and lives, and everything.” Wow. How often have I thought of her as ‘my daughter,’ rather than ‘Hannah Delaney.’

I was reading about the time when Jesus healed a blind man and he took him away from the crowd so he could pay him individual attention, then prayed – and asked if the man could see.

He said, “I see people like trees, walking around.”

Well listen, if that was the Anthony Delaney travelling ministry healing crusade I’d have called that a result and passed the collection plate! But Jesus wasn’t satisfied. My wife sometimes calls me ‘Half a Job Joe’ because of all the part-completed projects I am surrounded by, especially DIY (which when I make things stands for – ‘Drat! Idiot! Yelling!’).

Jesus, carpenter of Nazareth, is NOT a half a job kind of guy. He wasn’t happy that the blind man only saw others as trees. Jesus wanted him to see other people – as PEOPLE! So he prayed for him again. We need that second touch from Jesus, so we can see people as people – however our family is constituted. Because sometimes, especially when I’m in a busy rush, people – even those I love most – end up being, well, camouflaged.

See people as people

I’m glad I made time to sit at the table for a meal with the family that day, instead of working away on a piece about family, so I could learn from two people I love and admire greatly, my brother and sister in Christ – Joel and Hannah Delaney.

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