Each school day, I take one of my children to a special class and then
on to her own school. As I sit and wait, I see the same children and
parents come into the school everyday. They arrive at the same time,
acting very much the same way each day.
One dad brings his daughter late nearly every day. At best, they barely
beat the tardy bell. Each morning they go through the same routine.
Dad gets out quickly. He hurries toward the front door, leaving his
young daughter to get her lunch box and books by herself. Taking big,
fast, daddy steps, he gruffly barks at her to hurry up. You dont want
to be late, he always scolds. She hurries to catch up. He opens the
school door for her and they disappear.
Several things strike me about this scene. Im convicted by my own
tendency to be late and make my children late to their eventsseeing
it in someone else shames me for my selfishness. This daily display
also makes me angry: this little girl has no control over the time she
arrives at school. Being late is her dads fault. She cant drive, she
is too little to set the alarm clock. But she starts every morning of
school feeling bad about herselfMy daddy is mad at me because we
are late. Im going to be embarrassed again coming into class after
everyone else. What a sad way to start school.
Im sure the dad thinks he is doing something special for his little
girl by walking her to class. Im sure he loves her very much and wants
her to have a great day. Im sure he wants her to be confident and
excited about her school work. Im sure he doesn't know how hurtful his
treatment of her is. But he is in a ruta habit thats so ingrained
he doesnt think about its consequences.
We live so much of our lives on autopilot! We often sit in the same
place, eat at the same restaurant, visit with the same people, drive the
same way to work, watch the same TV shows, get up at the same time, and
even wear the same clothes. Most of this is not bad. Putting
unimportant things on autopilot allows us to devote our energy and
attention to new things, important projects, and needed creativity. But
we must turn off autopilot in our precious relationships.
One of Garrison Keillors great lines is that when you've been married
a long time, you fight for entertainment because you already know the
outcome. Unfortunately its true. We get in predictable routines, bad
habits, and destructive patterns in our relationships with our spouse,
children, parents, and friends. Our loved ones feel taken for granted.
We deny it. We genuinely love them. We want whats best for them. It
couldnt be true, could it!?
Underneath the surface, , we catch ourselves not listening as we should,
or expecting them to understand us being just a little late again, or
reading the paper (or watching TV) pretending to pay attention to them,
or using them as the butt of another of our jokes to liven up a dull
party. Weve fallen into a bad rut that runs over the ones we most
Lets get out of the rut. First, lets notice what we do with our loved
ones in our daily routines. We can check out the patterns and habits
and see if you can catch some things we'd like to change. Second, were
going to try to do something new, something fresh, for each of the
people we love each month. It wont be extravagant, just out of the
routine. Third, we can really listen to themlisten for the mood
theyre in, find out about their day, say things they need to hear, and
dont try to tell them what to do so much as let them know we care what
"A rut is simply a grave without ends on it." So lets get out of that
The steadfast love the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an
end. They are new every morning! Lamentations 3:22-24