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Presence Matters

07/31/2008 05:00PM ● Published by Super Admin

There are times in life when nothing can compensate for “being there.” I’m a father of two little girls and my second job is running a very large organization, so needless to say, both positions are incredibly demanding. So, if you carry a heavy weight in your chest for not “being there” for your kids’ events, I feel your pain. I know the power of presence, I teach and speak about it consistently, and yet, I find myself falling short in practicing what I preach. As a matter of fact, in May my seven-year-old daughter was preparing to recite a poem in front of her school in honor of Mother’s Day. She got a new dress, rehearsed over and over, and asked me more than once if I would be able to go. Imagine my heart’s cry when I had to say no. I had a meeting on my calendar that was set months prior, and if I cancelled, it would be months before I could re-schedule. Did I make the wrong choice?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m an active dad. I’m the one who reads to them at nighttime and I say the prayers before tucking them in. I’m the one who helps them brush their teeth and helps them put on their jammies. I even give my wife a night off (every Wednesday) to go hang out with her girlfriends, while I take my little girls on “Daddy Daughters Date Day.” Every week I come up with something new for us to do (movie night at home, go out to the theater, play mini-golf, paint ceramics, etc.). I play games with them, I laugh with them and I dance with them. So, yeah, I’m a good dad, because when I do have the time, I spend it with my girls. But should I be excused from attending the events that are important to my kids?

Are my kids involved in too many things? Do I value those who I minister, above my family? Lord, please don’t let that be it. Do all dads and moms who work a full-time job miss a lot of stuff just the same as me? I think maybe so. So, when do you show and when do you say no? Where are the boundaries for us full-timers?

I wish I had an answer that would be right every time. I wish I knew how much you could miss without forcing your kids to attend therapy when they are older. I wish I could evaluate properly what’s vital, what’s important, and what’s just a novel idea. But I don’t have any of those answers. It seems that all of us have to sort it out for ourselves. But, I do know one thing: I do know that the struggle is important. I do know that the fact that my heart hurts is a good thing. I do know that I care about missing this stuff. These are indicators of some sort of mental health, in my opinion. I do know that the times when I make cuts to my schedule to get “there,” means something special to my girls. So perhaps I do have a better grasp on it than I assumed.

My mantra for my life right now (and perhaps I’ll adjust it tomorrow) is to do my best, while leaving room for improvement. As it stands, my goal is to be at every one of my children’s significant events that I can. My plan is to be at enough events so that when I have to miss, they will not only understand and know I love them, but they will also be at peace. I have never stopped believing in both boundaries and love. I believe that somewhere in that middle is the key to healthy parenting. And, I take solace in the fact that while I strain and struggle and try to be there, my children are loved and they see their dad a lot. I’m not willing to just give up in the face of overwhelming pressures. I will fight for my family and if the Lord helps me, most of the time, I will show up.



Lance Hahn is the senior pastor at Bridgeway Christian Church in Rocklin. He can be reached at 916-791-8341 or via email at lance@bridgewaychrisitian.org.

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