Family devotions. Exercise. Dentist appointments. In the past all those things were in the same category, stuff you know is good for you but that doesn't sound like a good time. Thankfully our family is getting into some life-giving rhythms that elevate family devos out of that mix. But sometimes I still slip back into going through the devotion-motions. My wife and kids have a sixth sense for sniffing out when I'm in obligation mode. In those times everyone get restless at the table. Thumbs fidget. Frowns abound. We all know I'm just trying to plough through it so I can "get on with life."
Any move towards goodness means encountering resistance. Family time is no exception. In the past I've overcome this resistance through brute force of willpower. As you can imagine this is no fun for anyone involved. But there are areas where willpower can be used that later leads to life around the breakfast table. Here are a few things I've found helpful.
First, whenever possible I get up before the rest of the family and write or exercise. I don't particularly look forward to either of those activities but both clear cobwebs out of the mind and make me feel alive.
Second, praying aloud and singing worship by myself helps re-center me on what is important. A prayer might be something like, "Father, help me be present to my family today. De-familiarize my eyes, open them again to the beauty in front of me. My family is a garden which won't look this way forever. Help me to walk in it now, enjoy it, water it and be watered by it."
Third, on good days I help the kids get up in a gentle and unhurried way. When we all get to the breakfast table early the temptation to rush is removed.
Here's the truth. Everything I'm trying to rush onto in the day has nothing on the gift of my family's presence. My computer, in front of which I'll spend the majority of my work day, can wait. My thoughts can wait. My todos can wait. God is in all those things, too, but how much more is He present in this little community of God-imaged beings around the kitchen table?