But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. – Ecclesiastes 2:11 (New Living Translation)
It is pretty predictable now.
The feeling always follows a great moment. Perhaps a successful client meeting where a sale was closed. A home project that had bedeviled me for months, finally completed. A big church event, planned for months, concluded with a rousing applause and smiles on the faces of the congregants. Then follows the high fives, the hand shakes, the smiles and pats on the back from passerby or well-wishers. The tired but grateful walk to the car or the falling into the bed with exhaustion partnering with gravity.
This is when the question floods my mind when I should be enjoying the moment.
Perhaps some dads out there can relate to the all too fleeting moment of accomplishment and completion, only to hear a voice telling you that you really haven’t accomplished anything. That whatever project, duty, or goal you have achieved is destined to be followed by another one, promising to be harder and more frustrating than the last.
I single out dads because I believe many of us feel the struggle of setting high standards for ourselves and our families. Even in this post-modern era of modified family roles and gender equality, there is still a social and internal pressure placed on the fathers to ‘make things happen’ in the home. We are the thermostats of the family, and if the home is cold or uncomfortable, we bear the responsibility of changing the atmosphere. The danger of this truism is that we feel the job is never done. We can work for years to reach a goal, and when the moment is reached, there is no release or reward. We don’t stop to smell the roses, or even realize there was a rose on the side of the road at all.
It occurred to me today, when I was in the midst of one of these doldrums, that this sense of accomplishment is probably the most fleeting of all senses for me. We all use our five senses constantly to keep track of where we are, what is around us, and how we should proceed and act. Our senses make us aware of our surroundings. Some call the mystical ESP the ‘sixth sense’. Wikipedia tells me that the sixth sense is the sense of equilibrium. But I think the sixth sense for dads is the sense of accomplishment. It tells us that we are on the right track, that we’re worthy of a moment of satisfaction in who we are and what we are working toward. It may be that we have to force ourselves to stop in the midst of all the family, work and school activities and simply wait for a different voice, one that sometimes doesn’t come from another person. It has to come from a different place, one that resides on the inside. A voice that says, “Good job.”
So I’ll try to tap into that voice even when I hear those other voices telling me that I didn’t do well enough, or accomplish enough, or that someone else was better for the job anyway. There’s only one dad God selected to do the job I’m doing, and I’ll take his selection as a sign that I’m able to finish the task of raising great kids, being a great husband, and finding contentment in being the best man I can be.