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.