Most Octobers, I don’t enjoy Church because it’s budgeting season and we’re forced to hear how important our 10% is, both to God, the Church and ourselves. Whilest true, I feel the message would be more effective to talk about the 90% and how we steward that. We only have so much to spend, but do we see each purchase as a decision? Probably not. We just know we need more coffee and Meijer put Brand X on sale. That’s not stewardship, that’s math.
But today I read in the NYTimes Blog (Motherload
) a book review on No Regrets Parenting
(now on my wishlist); the author did the math and it turns out that as parents we only get 940 Saturdays through childhood (ages birth – 18). Less than a thousand. If you put a dollar in a jar for every Saturday that you get with your kid, when they graduate you’d not have enough to pay their first quarter’s tuition. Or even a decent car to send them away in.
Wow. 940. I keep rolling that number around in my head and wonder if I’m stewarding them well. Today hit the mark – we spent the night at grandma and grandpa’s, woke up for breakfast that we didn’t make, stopped at Indian Mill to throw stones, took the big kids to the park, grilled out some lunch and then played outdoors after naps. Of my 940, I’d say that’s a good way to spend one (or several).
I thought about the parents that I follow whose children are in a different stage of life; they get to spend their Saturdays at the ball diamond. I wonder if they enjoy one that way? Forty? What’s the best number to allot to childhood activities versus the number to spend simply being a child?
Or we can switch days and instead of counting the recreational ones, we could count the spiritual ones. We get 940 Sundays to bring our kids to church, to set an example of prioritizing worship, of introducing them to a family of believers. Sleeping in sounds nice much of the time, but if we only get 940, and we spend 400 of them sleeping, shouldn’t we wonder what a life of faith would’ve looked like? Clearly church attendance doesn’t make the person a Christian (“any more than being in water makes you a fish”), but the simple act of putting on our pretty clothes, singing a song and hearing a message to center us on God means that we’re doing more to stretch our spirituality than if we stayed in our jammies and watched cartoons. I feel like it’s a worthy way to spend a Sunday.
940. I can’t stop. If I realize that I only get a limited number of childhood Saturdays, will I choose to spend them wisely? (And what exactly is “unwise”?) We don’t need to turn every Saturday into a production, but with this new knowledge I want to be able to begin to name the good and the bad, the worthy and the unworthy. What if I spent at least 100 of them serving others with my kids? How could that impact them? What if we spent at least 50 of them in other places – new states, countries, cultures and climates? How could that shape their view of the world?
An friend spends his Saturdays at the House of Breakfast with his daughter. Nearly every Saturday, unless extenuating circumstances arise. That’s worthy of a Saturday right there. And they return and still have a whole day ahead (until he has to preach, God bless his soul. *Pats shoulder appreciatively*).
What if I were to begin viewing Saturdays like money? What if I stewarded my precious time with my children, seeing each week as a decision between this or that. Yes, there’s X we could do. But I want to put my time and energy with my children toward Y. I don’t want another 50 Saturdays of such-and-such to eat away at my stash.
Stewardship, the idea that we control resources but cannot create them, seems such the church-y word to me, but yet that’s what we are here on earth – stewards. Nothing we owns goes with us; we simply use, enjoy and manage it for a short while. So it goes with children. We can control the resources. We can use, enjoy and manage the time with them for such a brief while. When they’re grown, we cannot manufacture new years of youth to be consumed again.
I’m glad I can go to bed tonight assured we spent one of the 940 in a most worthy way. And I have another week to plot and scheme so that the immediate future doesn’t slip through my fingers.