The Words of the Saver Family
Now you may be one of those person's blessed with clarity and know clearly what you love to do and be pursuing your definite major life purpose. For years I have considered myself in this category. However little did I know that my family was suffering and I was on the verge of being the big loser.
The scary part was the fact that I was oblivious to it as it unfolded gradually over four years. I was a bit like the frog in the pot of water that was slowly heating up and not realizing that I was tracking toward my own death.
For years I consciously disregarded that nice sounding cliché that urges us to live our "life in balance". When I was single-mindedly committed to achieving a goal, I simply felt that I didn't have the luxury of time to take care of everything UNTIL I realized I was losing my greatest treasure: my family. I was doing what was my number one priority without realizing that mastering life involves taking care of more than one or two things.
I read somewhere once that no one ever on their death bed uttered the words "Damn it, I wish I had of spent more time at the office" as they gazed into the eyes of their loved ones.
I want to share briefly on the relationship front, an example of my failing in the midst of pursuing my life purpose.
Several years ago as an international volunteer, involved in leadership programs for youth I took pride in "caring and loving" people (see point #3 below under "Ten Qualities of Wellness"). However I tended to disregard the relationships that were most important to me, that is my family. My justification was that I was pursuing my dream and living for a higher purpose. As noble as that is, I was threatening the very foundation of my happiness. I was spending months at a time away from my family doing some great things that I received accolades for from my peers. However those great things did absolutely nothing to build my relationships on the home front.
In the movie, "Flash of Genius", (based on a true story) the main character, Bob Kearns, played by Greg Kinnear, became a victim of corporate America.
Kearns was so hell bent on making sure justice prevailed, that he eventually was vindicated and in addition received $18.7 million in compensation for his troubles. Despite all the pleas and promptings of his wife and children who just wanted a husband and a father who was 'available', after 12 years, his family was destroyed.
From the beginning my wife was on the same page, and she made huge efforts. However over time the reality began to bite harder than she and the children could handle.
Many times in tears my wife would report that one son would start crying every day like an "alarm clock" going off. It usually lasted for about an hour.
A couple of years earlier our four children had taken delight in building a big kennel for our new dog Milo. But the joy in building that dog house, was soon was lost for one son, who would from time to time, enter there-in, shedding inconsolable tears, for hours on end, "for daddy".
Another child would unexpectedly unleash their temper and scare family members.
In frustration and unable to cope with the reality of having a dad that was always coming and going, our children were becoming increasingly disrespectful toward my wife.
When I did come home, even though they were compliant, our children were not excited as they used to be. Knowing that I would be going away again soon, to protect their hearts, they reasoned that they could cope better by being reserved and keeping an emotional distance. At first I struggled to understand why they didn't want to talk over the phone anymore. I found myself having these one sided conversations and saying the same things over and over again. Anyone been there?
In the beginning, all I can remember our children saying is "when are you coming home Daddy?" A couple of years later they stopped asking.
I was clearly becoming a stranger in my own home.
Then finally, the wake up call came one day, when for the first time in 25 years of marriage, my faithful and devoted wife refused to come to the phone. Clearly she had reached breaking point. That day I just sat stunned in silence beside the phone. My mouth dropped and my heart sank and I determined there and then that I have to restructure my life. That we did and for the last three years its been 'catch up time'. Thank God for that. Hopefully hearts have healed but probably scars remain.
So whilst its great to discover your passion and actively pursue your unique life purpose DON'T lose sight of the big picture and the long term consequences of what you are doing. Admittedly to achieve great things, sacrifice is needed but don't forget to factor in the cost and ask yourself is it really worth it?
Better still, ask yourself "can this be done in a better way?" to avoid or minimize the fall out and yet continue pursuing the dream. I have chosen the latter by rearranging the game plan, becoming a multitasker and consulting the family board of directors. God is good.
Here is a photo of my family taken in January 2010.
Take a look at the ten points of wellness outlined below. [taken from Michael Arloski's book titled: Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change]
If you are a person that wants to be a whole rounded human being that has decided to be in life for the long haul and ready to deal with ALL of life's challenges see how you measure up with the following list.
As a school teacher about to administer a class test, I would often tell my students that they were about to find out what they didn't know so that later they would know where to focus their efforts.
In the same way, the ticks you give yourself as you go through the list is great for your self esteem but the real issue is being man or woman enough to face up to your deficiencies and doing something about it. That is real strength.
1. Deeply committed to a cause outside oneself
2. Physically able to do whatever one wants with intensity and great energy; seldom sick.
3. Caring and loving starting with those closest to you and being a person others can lean on in a crisis.
4. In tune with the spiritual, having a clear sense of purpose and direction.
5. Intellectually sharp, able to handle information, possessing an ever curious mind and a good sense of humor.
6. Well organized and able to accomplish plenty of work.
7. Able to live in and enjoy the present rather than focusing on the past or looking forward to the future.
8. Comfortable with experiencing the full range of human emotions.
9. Accepting one's limitations, handicaps and mistakes.
10. Able and willing to take charge of one's life, to practice positive self care, and to be assertive when necessary.
I would love to receive your comments and feedback to this post.
Can you relate to my experience based on your own experiences?
If so, what have you learned or realized? What changes have you made, in pursuit of your purpose, to include your family as an integral part of your life?
PS. If you think that this post may be of benefit to your family or friends, share it around via your social media sites.