Stop! Take some time to think. Figure out what’s important to you.

More than once in the last several years (especially the three since Becky got pregnant), I’ve found myself asking myself, “What the crap am I doing?”  More often than not, I answer myself with a shrug, a long inhale and exhale and the only somewhat true, “I’m trying the best I can to make everyone happy.”  I have a little bit of people-pleaser inside my Rubik’s Cube of a personality, and I bet several of my readers, particular those closest to me, are shaking their heads and coughing a phrase that may rhyme with Cool Spit.  I assure you it’s true. My decision-making process is fast, easily as fast as the Millenium Falcon, and in less than the 12 parsecs it takes to make the Kessel Run, I’ve strung together both sound and faulty logic to make a decision that I think will make the most people happy and make the most sense.  When I know people won’t be happy, but I have to make the decision anyway, it eats me up inside…sometimes for years thanks to a merciless memory.  ANYWAY, this blog isn’t about making “people” at large happy.  I’m going to focus in on being happy with my family (wife Becky and daughter Ariella).

Andy Stanley has a great book called Choosing to Cheat, and I think most people on Earth should read it, especially those in a romantic relationship.  Married people, that includes you, even if your relationship doesn’t feel particularly romantic, should go to Amazon and buy it.  It’s not the best book I’ve ever read, but it will give you some food for thought, especially if you are like me and have a really hard time with time.  I can’t manage it.  I want to do everything.  I get excited about anything that is presented to me in a persuasive format.  Yesterday, I found myself really jazzed about planning meetings for my company because I attended a webinar in which the tool used to plan meetings was presented as the coolest thing ever.  Not being capable of producing music, it cannot be the coolest thing ever, I’m just sayin’. I’m just into everything.
Because of this obvious deficiency, I give away my time like chinese-food restaurants in the mall give away samples of chicken on a toothpick.  This leaves Becky and Ariella cheated when I lose my grip.  In Fredericksburg, there was a point where my grip was so weak that I could look at my schedule and not find a free night for literally weeks.  I had so many hats with Common Ground, my band, and work that I had developed an intricate dance, and my partner, Becky, was rarely on the floor with me.  Well, it turns out that dancing solo sucks.

Thanks to some other people stepping up at Common Ground and particularly through the example of Gregg Jennings, who was probably more influential on my time management than he knows, I was able to shed some hats.  Still, I struggled not to pick up more.  I took a “sabbatical” from playing worship to show Becky how dedicated I was to spending time with her, but my sabbatical was a joke because I didn’t want to go to church with Becky.  I wanted to wear my bassist hat or my soundman hat, and I managed to wear those hats quite a bit while on my “sabbatical.”  My selfish addiction to responsibility tore at my marriage, and salvation from these habits came from a really odd place: getting laid off.

It is what brought me to Annapolis.  It got me away from the things that took up so much of my time.  Yeah, I’ve found some new hats up here in Maryland, but my first several months here, I didn’t play worship, and I loved it.  I mean, I missed playing A LOT, but I saw how happy Becky was when I actually made her and Ariella a priority (rather than saying they were a priority with my mouth and saying they weren’t with my actions, which was the case in Fredericksburg).  I love the way Becky holds my hand when she’s happy.  I love her lingering hugs when I get home from work, and while I missed music, I found that her happiness is so much more awesome.  It’s given me the opportunity to evaluate what hats I want to wear.

Here’s some thoughts.  I want Ariella to grow up with a dad who is there!  I want Ariella to know, however, that service is important, so I will keep serving in church.  I’m not going to spread myself so thin, though.  I’m going to stick with worship and attend, rather than lead, small groups with Becky.  I’ll help Josh by sharing my experiences with and perspective on the trials and tribulations of Common Ground’s first six years, and I’ll help by getting excited and trying to be contagious in my excitement.  I’m going to make sure I’m more free for plans with my family than committed.  That means, I’ll do my best to keep my schedule free of Matt-only plans more than two nights a week on average.  This week, I have band practice tonight and I’m going to the Capitals game on Thursday.  The rest of the nights this week, I look forward to being with Becky and Ariella.

I’m still sick.  I’m not healthy yet, but I’m trying to rehabilitate.  I’ll probably fail.  I am after all a broken sinner, but I’m committed to getting better.  Thank you for helping me.

This article is what I was reading when I chose to write this, and while it is not really related, you may like it:  Surviving the ‘mommy mafia’

Also, if you didn’t know, this blog’s title is from the song Stop! by Against Me! and I suggest you listen to it.

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9 thoughts on “Stop! Take some time to think. Figure out what’s important to you.

  1. I had Stop! stuck in my head until I saw your facebook status, and now I’ve got Sheena is a Punk Rocker stuck in my head. But we’re still cool, because those are okay songs to get stuck. I haven’t heard either of them in a while.

    Also, you should definitely definitely buy that soundman hat and wear it often and unironically.

  2. Great post Matt…

    I spend a fair amount of time thinking about this type of thing, simply because I’ve always tried to live life right on the edge of doing too much… fortunately for me, my wife is always my ultimate referee in helping me know when I’m where I should be, or when I’m pushing too hard away from the family. I think that left on my own, I’d have workaholic-ed myself out of a marriage by now.

    I’ll challenge you for your next blog post though… explore a deeper, more detailed answer to “what the heck am I doing”…

    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been fortunate enough to stumble into a fair amount of professional success… but really wish I had been more prayerfully deliberate about life… i.e… I would like it to look like this… my extended time off after my Pentagon job has been very focused on this.

    Christians are most interesting when it comes to time management, because we do take our time commitments to family and church very seriously… and that perspective comes into tension with the very real truism that just about every great success is the result of deep personal sacrifice… I betcha that Andy Stanley has margins that would make other equally devout believers shudder.

    As cheesy as this story will sound, I almost got out of the active duty Navy because of the requirements away from my family… and then took a family trip to Cape Canaveral… and while I would NEVER equate myself to the original (or any) astronauts, the question came to mind of, “what would happen if John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, etc had said, ‘you know what?… this astronaut thing is pretty risky, and I’m not getting enough time with my family… I’m out’. (there’s a thousand and one tangents on this one… but I won’t go there)

    Just food for thought… again, great post, and I think I actually pulled off using parts of that song for a announcement video at CG…

    Aloha,
    Brett

  3. Awesome post. I find myself struggling with the exact same thing. And yeah, that’s an awesome song. Back when I was a store manager at Journeys it was on three CD’s in a row. A nice change from the emo and “ringtone rap” that was usually playing.

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