Resolution for 2017: Work less, love more
A situation occurred at the parish that is nagging me into prayer.
When an event occurs that I keep hashing over in my mind, usually there is a lesson there that God wants me to learn: The phone rang and on the other end was a very angry mom who accused me of not informing her that there was a parent meeting. She missed the meeting and now her son was behind in his Confirmation requirements.
This was not her fault; it was my fault for not communicating the meeting time. I told her that the meeting had been published in three electronic sites and two hard copy paper versions well in advance of the meeting.
She yelled at me “I don’t have time to read that stuff!” and she hung up on me.
“Wow, how can this be my fault? ” I thought. After I got over my annoyance with her narcissistic attitude, I was overcome with a deep feeling of compassion for this frantic mom. What could drive a person to react like this? It was obvious that she was emotionally brittle and struggling to keep a grip on her busy life.
If this were an isolated incident, I probably would have left it alone and moved on. But the fact is that I encounter parents, co-workers and friends in the same situation. Another mom came to me in tears last week, because she is being asked to work ten-hour days and will have no time to help her ADHD son with his nightly homework.
We are all experiencing overload from too much to do and not enough time. We are so busy that we cannot focus on the present whether it is reading a meeting notice or listening to our child’s conversation.
What is the lesson for us in this story? What can we do to be mindful of the present, retain what we read, listen with intent? The pressure to measure up to the unrealistic standards of employers and to balance family life that is full of sports, church, school and marriage is more than anyone can bear. Could it be that God is inviting us to step back and reassess our lives and find a way to regain calm.
It was my grandfather’s last words to my father as he lay dying that still resonate in my soul: “Danny, don’t work so hard. It is not worth it.”
Are we all working too hard? Is it worth the loss of time with our precious children, quality time with our spouse and even a few moments each day to talk with God? I firmly believe that when we look back on our lives, we will regret that we choose work over love. We excuse our devotion to our jobs as the way we translate love into money that brings so many good things to those we love.
Greed is deceptive. It promises happiness and delivers a wasteland. I have counseled too many parents who realize all too late that they just were not there when their child needed them, far too many spouses who see that they grew apart because they were never together. But how can we get ourselves out of this mess and return to a simpler peace filled life?
As we are in a new year, how about one simple resolution: I resolve to make less money, spend more time with my family and only work eight hours a day. Could this be the lesson that the Rabbi of my soul has been trying to teach? I wonder if any of us have the courage and resolve to walk away from working too much for the sake of those we love.