And by the way, before moving on, I should mention here that I realize how very fortunate I am to have a wife who enjoys letting me enjoy this wonderfully frustrating game that I like to play so much.
Now to the real point...
Nicol, Summer and I were having lunch today and I noticed a gentleman one booth away from ours sort of going out of his way to get Summer's attention. I have to admit that at first I was a little skeptical of his antics... sorry, but you just never know these days... and by the way, in the unlikely event that one of you reading this post happens to be that guy, please forgive me for my first impression because I'm quite grateful for the very important reminder you gave me today... thanks!
Anyway, here's what he was saying to Summer: "You need to have your daddy go buy you a tea set." She didn't have a clue what he was talking about. And I, well, my mouth said, "Yeah, yeah, great idea!" while my head was shouting, "Not!" (ever have those moments?) I didn't have any intention of getting her a tea set and the odds were very good at that point that I would have made a tee time for Thursday morning long before I would have gone looking for a tea set. Not that I didn't think it would be a good thing. I just wasn't really tracking along with the guy. Nicol, on the other hand, was into the idea. She wanted to go right then to this cool little gift store called Raspberry Row, which was nextdoor to the restaurant we were at - how convenient! - and look for a tea set. I thought better of it and said we could do it later. I guess it was at that point that my mindset began to change and I thought maybe it would be a pretty good thing to take the guy's advice.
A few minutes later I ran into our ambitious dining neighbor near the cash register as we were paying for our meals (you do see what's coming, don't you?). He began to tell me about his three daughters and that he had raised them all by himself and that I better be aware that "they grow up so fast" and "they'll be out of the house before you know it" and "watch out when they turn 15 or 16 and the boys come calling." And I was thinking, dude, you're really depressing me. And then I thought, forget the tea set, what I really need to go buy is a baseball bat for when the boys do come calling... just kidding, sort of... the thought has crossed my mind a time or two... watch out boys, I'll probably go with aluminum rather than wood... it's more durable. :-)
I thanked the guy for the reminder, paid our bill, and went back to sit with Nicol and our friend, Linda, who had just joined us. Then I said to myself, "I'm going to take Summer next door and see if they have any tea sets." So off we went. I was pretty sure at this point that they wouldn't have any, but it's the thought that counts, right? Besides, like the guy had suggested, we could always pick one up at WalMart. So we go in the store and Summer, as she always seems to do, spotted a purse that she just had to have, then candy, then earrings and necklaces, then a couple of bright, polka-dotted wallets, then a pair of Crocs, then some candles, and finally a pack of rather large gumballs. (Sorry to the store clerk... I'm sure you have spent the rest of your afternoon picking up after us.) After running from one end of the store to the other, I was finally able to ask the clerk if she had any tea sets, to which she replied "Yes" and showed me to the display shelf at the front of the store. I opened up the box, gave it a quick look, asked Summer if she liked it, waited for her response (Yeah, I like it!), and decided to get it. And so I did.
Now there are two things that really stick out to me about this "tea time" vs. "tee time" thing.
One, I am amazed at the activity of God in our lives and, more specifically, I am struck at how He is able to use the most "oh-hum" moments of the day to kindly teach us some of life's most important lessons. Seriously, is it not incredible that He can take something as simple as "Hey little girl, you need to have your daddy buy you a tea set" and turn it into "Hey Summer, you like this? Cool, let's buy it and have tea with mommy!"? I am reminded that it's far too easy (common?) to pass off the mundane as totally random or unexpected, even strange and meaningless. But I become increasingly convinced that while waiting for those "flashes of light" moments, I may be missing out on some of the grandest displays of God's activity in my life... displays that I often overlook and dismiss as pointless.
Two, priorities matter. One of the things I struggled with most when Luke died, on the guilt side of things anyway, was the fact that I hadn't spent as much time with him as I wished I had. He had been colicey and I couldn't comfort him like Nicol was able to. So for the time we had him, to a certain extent it was sort of Nicol and Luke, and Summer and I. As any newborn does, he took a ton of Nicol's time and energy, and Summer needed me, so I wasn't able to be with him like I was with Summer when she was an infant. I felt terrible guilt over this... and still do at times. Then I began to think, "You shouldn't have been working out in the yard, or playing golf, or having breakfast with the guys, or watching that game, or..." On and on it went. Guilt over priorities.
I tell you this only to say that some of the guilt was real, some was false. In some cases, I should have made different decisions, in others it was just the way things worked out. But the point can't be missed: priorities matter. I can only tell you that when Luke died, never did I say, "I wish I had been away more doing this or that, or played just one more round of golf, or spent just one more hour cutting the grass or planting trees or pulling weeds, or stayed up watching just one more ballgame, or hung out with the guys just one more time, or..." Never. Not one single time. My first and only thought was, "No, this hasn't been enough time with our son. Not now. He's only 10 weeks old." The truth is, I'd give anything to have just one more minute with him.
God is at work... even in the smallest of things.
So I guess I'll sit down with Nicol and Summer and we'll all have tea together sometime real soon... maybe tomorrow.
And by God's grace I'll pay more attention to the next bit of pointlessness that comes my way.