The first aspect of attachment is that we absolutely have to be honest with the way we spend our time. If our families are our first priority, then we need to devote more time and attention to them than anything else (except Our Lord — but I think we serve God when we serve our families). That means that every time we are presented with a choice about how to spend time — and there are countless times every single day — we choose according to priority. It’s not a stretch to say that most parents don’t do this. They choose work. They choose adult social relationships. They choose hobbies.
“But I need to work to support them!” goes up the cry. “But I need friends, too!” “But I need to pursue a creative outlet or a sport of my own.” Of course you do. So do I. It’s disordered, however, to ignore our children in order to support them. It’s ridiculous to spend more time developing and nurturing relationships with our neighbors, while our precious child gets the leftovers of our social attention. It’s silly to devote time to creative or athletic endeavors to the neglect of the children we co-created with God. It is up to each of us to discern if we truly manage our time according to our professed priorities [emphasis mine].I want to say that I wholeheartedly agree with Elizabeth's premise. Yes, yes, and yes again. I was one of those moms at one time. While I loved my husband and children above anyone else, having a family was at times more of an infringement on the things I seemed to need to do in order to satisfy something deeper in me. I had to go through some rough times to figure out that those holes in my soul threatened the integrity of my family. If I did not get to the bottom of them and begin repairing them soon, I would soon be living in a broken marriage with bitter children.
Here is what Elizabeth Foss does not state, but I will because I'm blunt that way: the reason that many parents are making the choices to have friends, hobbies, and jobs that scatter their priorities over many counties is because they cannot give to their children what they themselves do not possess. The actions of a parent may appear to be perfectly acceptable by society's standards, with no apparent reasons for the brokenness that works itself out in our children. But underneath all the busy-ness, the heart of the matter is dark, and divine healing is needed.
Only the Holy Spirit can reveal to a person the ways in which they need to be healed. Only the Holy Spirit can shine light into the broken and dark places of a person's soul and bring them to a place of peace and joy and true healing. Only a broken person can cry out to the Lord and humble herself and request that He do this very thing. Once we invite the Lord wholly into that process, we are able to find peace and stillness. Striving against the needs of the nest in order to meet our own becomes a thing of the past, and we find ourselves longing to fulfill the calling we are given first and foremost.
If a parent works, or socializes with the neighbors, or enjoys time with their friends is really a moot point. All of those things in and of themselves are perfectly benign as long as the Lord has ordained those activities and the hearts of our children are satisfied with the knowledge that they are loved, cherished and protected. It is therefore not a matter of time management but of soul management.
May we have the courage to ask the Lord to search us and test us for the sake of our children (Psalm 139). It requires great courage to present oneself to the Lord in this manner, understanding full well that He may choose to dismantle and reassemble our lives. Nevertheless, He is a wise and faithful builder, and we can trust that He will only do good for us in the process, no matter how painful it may be.