I find myself in a strange situation as of this morning, now that my wife and two kids have left for Korea, for at least three weeks. My heart aches at how much I miss them already, and yet I have all this free time I do not usually have. Granted, I will keep plenty busy with a full-time job as youth and outreach pastor, and in a lot of ways I can spend more time focusing on work in a way that I normally cannot. And with family and friends all around me, geographically speaking, I can invest more time than usual in building up the relationships in my life.
I have heard two main types of responses when I have told people that I will essentially be living alone for almost a month, after almost five years of marriage and over three years of parenthood. One has been sympathetic. “How are you going to survive by yourself?” “Aw, I bet you’re going to miss your family.” “Can you even cook for yourself?” (By the way, yes I can.) The other has been celebratory, maybe sometimes with a side of envious. “Wow.” “Lucky!” “Time to live it up!”
But, my favorite and most meaningful response was from a friend, who recognized that I have been focusing all my time and energy on giving the best to my family, and often at the expense of my own personal and spiritual well-being. And she’s right. But wait. Doesn’t success in marriage and parenthood call for self-sacrifice? Yes, absolutely. However, I cannot give my very best if my resources are depleted. So, this friend strongly urged me to spend this next few weeks really focusing on connecting with God, that sacred and divine relationship at the deepest part of me.
So, after I parted ways with my precious wife and kids, I headed straight for my quiet house first, and said a focused prayer that went something like this: “Lord, I want to make the most of this time. I want to be a stronger when they return: a stronger man, husband, father. I can’t do it without You.”
Now, maybe you are religious and maybe you are not, and not everyone would make use of free time by focusing on getting closer to God. But I would have to wonder if anyone–regardless of what one believes or doesn’t believe–feels good about wasted free time. Time spent getting stronger in the most important ways is time well spent.
For me, these are the three types of activities that will occupy the bulk of my free time:
- Spiritual- Silence, prayer, fasting, meditation, Scripture study, being in nature, writing and hearing music
- Relational- Extra time with family and friends, some where I am giving and some where I am just enjoying company
- Physical- Eating right and exercising
The current sermon series at Trinity Church, by Pastor Albert Hung, is called “Stronger: Training for the Win.” Click here to check out the first sermon from this past Sunday. I know it sounds absurd, but I do feel like this series is just for me. I mean, it happens to fall just during the time I would be by myself, the time I am able to focus on becoming stronger. I plan to chronicle the next three weeks, and hopefully how my choices every day help me accomplish my goal.
So, assuming you would want to make the most of some unusual free time, if you could get it, what would you do to become stronger by the end?