Summer is coming to an end and the new fall routines are starting. Now is the time to reflect on Main Things. These can be different depending on your family culture and values. Remember, don’t let the small stuff elevate to Main Things status. In families, as in the corporate world, you have to be aware of “scope creep”. This happens when things grow bigger and bigger and get more complicated until you lose sight of the original Main Things! For example, early in my married life the small thing of folding towels got elevated to Main Thing Status. Really?! I lost sight of the real Main Thing which was the towels were “folded” and put away by my husband so I didn’t have to do it. The Main Things were Kindness and Acts of Service. I had to let go of “my way of folding” and practice flexible thinking. To this day, we still don’t fold towels the same way…
For me and my family, the three Main Things are God, Family, and Service to others.
Whether we recognize God’s presence or not, He is around us. The work I do just can’t get done without focusing on this big Main Thing. I realize I am uniquely gifted with talents and learned skills to work with children, couples, and families.To maintain a balance, I keep my “spiritual cup” filled. I intentionally spending time reading, being still to reflect on blessings and being grateful for lessons I’m learning. This last one is particularly difficult for me. There are lessons to be learned when I mess up and I work hard on self-compassion and keeping things in perspective. Not everything is a crisis. I remind myself that my God still loves me despite the mistake. Do I like suffering the consequences of a mistake- NO! I do try to correct and do better next time- YES!
I keep family a Main Thing by making sure activities are not over-scheduled. It is so easy to, in an effort to provide a well-rounded education, pack so much into a week that the pace of the family is almost frantic. There is real value in down time for playing, laughing, talking, and recognizing the strengths within each family member. In my family there were great times (roses) and some challenging times (thorns). Through it all, the Main Thing is to work together with loving positive intent to discover solutions. Often seeking family therapy provides a new perspective and helps to shift the family system back into balance. There are lots of transitions that happen during the life course (starting school, getting a new job, graduating, launching children, divorce, remarriage, retirement) which can shift us away from the Main Thing- staying connected with biological or found families is a source of support and strength. There tends to be feelings of regret if families get too busy to maintain some level of connection. (I’m not talking about those toxic and abusive relationships where safety is a real concern).
Looking back on when the kids were growing up, serving others sometimes got promoted over keeping family as a Main Thing. Remember what I said earlier about “scope creep”? Well, there were times when I was so busy serving others in the community that I was not available for my family. This created some thorny situations that were painful. I learned from the mess up how to integrate my Main Things- God, Family, and Service. We found opportunities to bring the entire family into service. We did project work in 4H, volunteering at food pantries and homeless shelters, and taking turns serving at our local church. My worth and that of my family was not based on how many things we did but the heart with which we glorified God and edified others. I learned that if I did too much then I might be robbing someone else of the Main Thing of service to others.
So take a minute to reflect on your Main Things. Are your Main Things in the proper order for your family? Are they worthy of passing on to the next generation? More is caught than taught!
I can help you tune-up or discover your Main Things. Let’s get back on track to a balanced life.