Oh How the Years Go By
In preparation for this article, I was reflecting on my first year at GSL and realized how quickly the time seemed to pass. Lyrics to a song that I often sang to my daughters while they were growing up came to mind. Amy Grant sings the song, and the words go something like, “Oh how the years go by. Oh how the love brings tears to my eyes. All through the changes the soul never dies, we laugh, we cry, as the years go by.” I have daughters that are 25 and 30 years old. They’ve heard me sing these lyrics since they were in grade school. Part of me sang the song because I liked the music; part of me sang the song because the words are true. The years go by. They go by quickly. My daughters were in grade school. I blinked. They were in middle school. I blinked again and they were in high school and then college. They are now independent and living out their hopes and dreams as adults. My older daughter turned 30 this summer. She said she felt old. My wife said, “If you feel old, how do you think we feel?”
I’m fortunate to have a lot of very good memories from my children’s growing up days. To be honest, we had to work through how we spent our time. We were a busy family, pulled in many directions. There was a time when my wife and I were both teaching first grade in different school districts, our older daughter was in first grade in a third district, our younger daughter was a one year old and in day care, and I had an hour and half commute each day. Needless to say we were quite busy with work, raising two daughters, and the responsibilities around the home. We had very little spare time in our lives. In the midst of this season of busyness we found a helpful book entitled Margin by Richard Swenson. The book focused on helping those who needed relief from the pressures of overload and recommended reevaluating priorities and simplifying your life. Swenson explains margin:
“Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.
If we were equipped with a flashing light to indicate “100 percent full,” we could better gauge our capacities. But we don’t have such an indicator light, and we don’t know when we have overextended until we feel the pain. As a result, many people commit to a 120 percent life and wonder why the burden feels so heavy. It is rare to see a life prescheduled to only 80%, leaving a margin for responding to the unexpected that God sends our way.”
After reading the book and having numerous conversations, my wife and I made some decisions to make better use of our time, which included paring down the number of activities our children participated in during the week, “teaming up” on the household chores and dividing the tasks as evenly as possible. My wife and I limited the number of commitments we had outside the home to ensure that our children had quality time with us. We also instituted “date night” each week, even if it was only take-out food and a movie from Blockbuster on a Saturday night. Date night was such a hit, it continues to be a regular feature in our weekly schedule!
My application from this reflection is to encourage all of us to make the most of our time. We are busy people, often moving at a frenzied pace, wanting the best for our children, yet having very little margin in our lives. I encourage you to create margin in your lives and to savor the daily moments with your children. Find ways to have quality time with your family, whether it be sharing a meal together, reading, exercising, playing, or just making yourself available. Believe me when I say this year will go by in a blink. Believe me when I say, “Oh how the years go by.”