Life is crazy, crazy hectic for most of the American population. I can’t speak for other countries because I don’t live there; but here in America, we over-extend and over-achieve in almost every area of our lives. The upside is we get a lot done. The downside is, we run ourselves into the ground and reap the long-term consequences physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and relationally.
Full-time employment no longer means 9 to 5, Monday thru Friday. For many people it is a 24/7 gig that involves traveling around the globe, no weekends off and conference calls at the wee hours of morning to accommodate time differences. Sleep gets sacrificed.
Full-time parenting now involves extra-curricular activities that take up every waking hour. The demand for athletic children to start young and practice every day has become mainstream in our American culture; to the point that many children burn out before they even reach high school. Between school, homework, practices, games and tournaments, there is no down time. Not to mention doctor’s and dentist and orthodontist appointments. Play time gets sacrificed.
With such demanding work and extra-curricular commitments, there is no regularly scheduled dinner time. Families divide and conquer, grabbing a Subway sandwich or a burger on their way to the next scheduled event on their To-Do list. Family time gets sacrificed.
At the end of every day, “I love you’s” are Skyped, texted or uttered through a phone line and a certain sense of intimacy is lost. Marriages are sacrificed.
Fast food has replaced a home cook meal and schedules don’t always allow for a regular work-out routine. Health gets sacrificed.
Weekends are now packed with games and tournaments, even on Sunday mornings. Church gets sacrificed.
The United States has the highest rate of cardiac arrest. Go figure. Sure, there is a percentage of this statistic that is caused by a pre-determined genetic disposition; but the others are caused by lifestyle. Constant stress, little sleep, fast food, loneliness, etc.….wear us down over time. Can we put a price tag on our health? On our relationships? On our emotional well-being? If so, what is that price?
We have justified our sacrifices and our faltering economy has rationalized our justifications. We have no other choice than to work hard to support our families and to provide for them every opportunity toward success in life. Our intentions are good and honorable…but are they destroying us?
“I’m providing for my family.” - A family that doesn’t even know you because you’re gone so much.
“If there’s any hope of getting a college scholarship, we’ve got to be on the best team now!” - But the child is only five years old and never has time to play with his friends.
“My salary bought us this beautiful dining room table.” - When there is no time for family dinners the table just becomes an empty piece of furniture.
“I’m too tired.” - And intimacy slips thru the cracks.
“We should be thankful we have the technology to communicate every day.” - Yes, but nothing can replace the bonding of human touch.
“We don’t have a choice.” - We’re living the American dream…or are we? Somehow I don’t think this was what our forefathers envisioned.
There’s no easy solution. We can’t quit our jobs and if we pull our children out of extra-curricular things, we stifle their chances of fulfilling their dreams. We’re caught in the current and must continue to paddle against it to try and make the little things as special and as meaningful as we can. We must squeeze in family time and family dinners, we must plan months in advance so that we don’t let relationships and friendships fall by the wayside. We must consciously choose to put our phones down and make eye contact. We must find time to take care of our bodies, minds and spirits while still meeting the demands of our jobs and daily lives.
Most of all, we must cut each other some slack…because we’re all over-extended and over-achieving…paddling upstream toward the American dream. ~