Family Bytes

Feed the Pig: Hitting the Jackpot with your Family

The weeks leading up to January 13, 2016 were filled with excitement. It seemed like all people could talk about was the Powerball Lottery Jackpot that had grown to $1.4 BILLION. It was a fun frenzy with people posting pictures of their “winning” tickets on social media and telling their friends what they would do if they actually won.

“I promise I won’t forget my friends when I win. I will send my private jet back so you can visit me on my secluded island where my trained monkeys will take care of your every need.”

When I win I will spend the rest of my life in pajamas or swim suit and no, I will not lend you money.”

Now, I am not a lottery kind of person. I know the odds are stacked against the player. I understand I really did not have a good chance to win the jackpot. Yet on January 12, 2016, I bought my ticket too. I, like many other people, dreamt about what life would be like if I won. Maybe I would be less stressed knowing I didn’t have to worry about nagging bills or wonder how my kids were going to pay for college. My attitude was that one big move -- one big win -- could change everything for the better … forever.

Many years ago I met a young man who had a great job, nice home in a desirable area and from what I could tell he was a very attentive husband and father. He seemed to have it all. One day he decided he needed a change. He gave up his great job for another great work opportunity. The only catch: he would take a significant pay cut on the front end and he would travel 4 days per week.

The travel and expectations wore down this young husband and father. He would admit that missing the significant milestones in his children’s life and time with his spouse created a sense of loss. When he was home, he felt conflicted: do I invest in my kids the 3 days I’m in town or do I take my wife out on a date?

What initially seemed like an incredible opportunity soon became an incredible nightmare. It turns out the issue was not the career change, but the timing. This young professional was talented and would have more opportunities to develop his professional skills and build his resume.  However, the time he missed in that season of life could never be recreated with his family.

He began to look for that one big move, one big opportunity to make lasting memories, one big moment that would change everything for the better. The vacations became more extravagant and the date nights became more elaborate. He treated his family relationships like a lottery but the odds of making up for the time lost were not in his favor.

But great relationships are not built through a series of big moves. Great relationships require small, consistent and sacrificial investments over time.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)

I am learning I don’t need a job requiring me to be out of town many days a week to find myself in a similar situation. I can easily miss the opportunity to invest in my family relationships because a sports game which I don’t really care about, is on television. I’d rather “relax” by wasting hours with all the cat videos or scrolling through social media pictures of friends investing in their relationships at the beach, rather than participating in my own.

I can rationalize distractions because, unlike my friend, I am around my family all the time. Yet, I am realizing that being around doesn’t mean I am present.

Does any of this sound familiar? I think we all can transform the way we invest in our marriages and in our kids' lives with these two statements:

  • This is my opportunity to…
  • It is my responsibility to…

Every scenario our marriages and family face can be transformed by finishing those 2 statements and ACTING ON IT. For example:

This is my opportunity to turn off the TV and talk, pray with my spouse or have a family game night. 

It is my responsibility to forgive or reconcile with my spouse even though I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong in this situation.

These two statements can help us become wise investors who experience the joy relationships are designed to give us.

Instead of gambling on big, one-time things this week – and the week after and the week after that -- let’s look for opportunities to take action on our responsibilities with our family and gamble on that instead. Because with small, consistent and sacrificial investments over time, we may just find we have hit the jackpot.

Posted by Freddie Albaugh at 8:00 AM
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