After reading my post, called SNAFU, Marcus Goodyear commented that he asked himself some tough questions:
1. What am I doing right now that I will look back on in the future and regret?
2. How can I be fully present with my family right now when they need me?
3. How can I not fall into the trap of making my family into just another idol that I worship and twist into an enemy?
Marcus liked my answer and I thought I'd turn it into the next installment of P4E:
Well, I don't know what you are doing that you'll regret later, but I know what I regret now (in no particular order):
- Putting those blinders on and focusing the majority of my energy into my work.
- Not listening to (and acting on) the "help" that God gave me (my wife) when it came to relationship issues. She is still the "expert" especially when compared to my feeble relationship abilities.
- Not understanding (and therefore screwing up) how becoming a "Christian" was supposed to change the way I think, act and talk.
- Holding "deep convictions" that I believed were based in my "Belief" and expressing those in a way that was detrimental to relationships with those close to me.
- Not asking questions of my wife and others who could have helped me avoid disaster.
- That by not asking questions, I did not remain teachable and therefore became arrogant and stayed ignorant. These characteristics squelched creativity and hindered growth in understanding and wisdom.
- Not establishing reasonable boundaries between my family of origin and my wife and children.
- Not taking a more active role as a husband and father in the spiritual development of my self, my wife and my children.
- That I have been a hypocrite, in the "whitewashed tomb" sense of the word. I was one person in public and another at home or with those who were close to me.
- Being exposed to and becoming a consumer of pornography.
- Not believing that I could exercise some self-discipline in my life and therefore being un-disciplined in much of it.
- Being a proud, explosively angry, impatient and frustrated man.
- Making decisions without being "one" with my wife.
- Not understanding the differences between men and women and how they are meant to glorify God.
- Not valuing my emotions or the emotions of others so that I became spiritually and emotionally dead.
- Not handling my finances in such a way that my sons could see a positive, balanced example of what that should look like.
And that's just to name a few! I know that I've heard other men express some of the same regrets.
As far as making your family an idol, I don't think that's something that most of us men have to worry too much about. Especially as time goes by it will be much more likely that you will have to worry about the other extreme of taking them for granted, having unrealistic expectations of them, being disappointed in their performance, spending less and less time with them, disregarding them and generally being un-Christlike towards them.
Of course, the antidote to all of this is the pursuit of Christlikeness. All of our future regrets could be avoided by purposing to be fully present for our families right now by being sensitive, gentle, kind, humble, peaceful, self-sacrificing, patient, faithful, generous, spirit-filled and disciplined (among other Christlike characteristics).