When I started teaching a number of years ago, the conference superintendent came to observe me teach and asked me where I saw myself in five years. I think I told him something to the effect of, "teaching somewhere and loving my wife well." That seemed to be the wrong answer from his point of view. He emphasized how it is important to set goals and to know where I want to end up, and I have to pursue a master's degree so I won't be a "jack of all trades but master of none." Well, I can't disagree with that, but if he asked me again today, my answer would emphatically be the same, but this time I would add, "loving my wife and children well and giving them the best of me."
I have committed my life to loving my family and those around me well, and I do my best to give fully of myself. But no matter how hard I try to keep my priorities straight, I still find that at the end of another exhausting day, what I have to offer is my leftovers. I pray that I can learn how to live more healthfully on a daily basis, and I'm thankful for the rest, renewal, and time that the weekly Sabbath offers. But I'm extremely excited about taking an entire year to give my family the best of me and to be intentional together about the life we're living.
What is life? What is its purpose? And how can a life lived well be measured? We humans are so narrow, so focused on the temporary, the tangible, and the visible. In an attempt to answer these life questions, we devote our lives to pursuing possessions and status, as if the answers can be bought and sold in stores, or as if "success" in the workplace is a tangible affirmation that we've made something of our lives. We begin our lives with hopes and dreams only to get stuck in a rut, so busy trying to accomplish everything we are pursuing that we never take the time to assess where it is that we're ending up. We work ourselves ragged to be able to give our families all that they might want, when all they really need is us. I'm not sure how to define life and its purpose or how to measure a life lived well, but I think it must begin and end with loving God and loving one another. I think we must give those we love fully of our selves, not just our stuff.
This year is about that.