There is an old quote that says, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I am not sure how true that is, but most of us have heard it and/or most likely used it a time or two.
I have rather extensive experience with extended absence working on the road, overseas, and away from loved ones and family. I have also lived day by day seeing loved ones every night in a more “normal” routine. When my wife and I first started dating, my work kept me on the road 80-90% of the time. To be honest, although we wanted to see each other more, it worked just fine for quite a while, or so we thought.
When our first son was born, however, we learned the meaning of the word stability.
Being away from your family brings on all sorts of stresses on both sides of the fence. The one at home is left tackling day to day tasks without your support, without you on their team or having you as their escape or refuge. Some say we should turn to the Lord for all of those things, and while that is true, in the Bible, God tells us in Ecclesiastes 4 of the importance of leaning on others.
As men, we are bred into the ideology that we can conquer the world on our own. We don’t need women or friends, only our strong backs and solid work ethic, and no one can stand in our way. There is one major problem with this thinking though: there is always someone in our way.
That person is you.
Ecclesiastes tells the story of a man walking through life on that lonely road. “There was a man all alone he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. ‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked, ‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’ This too is meaningless—a miserable business!”
Luckily for most of us, we solved that problem and didn’t even realize it: you married your best friend!
Having spent so much time away from my best friend, I can say absence did not make my heart grow fonder—it just made me miserable and loaded with guilt.
I missed births, birthdays, parties, dinners, bathtimes, date nights, and the list goes on. With every phone call, yes I missed her more and of course I missed my children, but the guilt inside for being absent to a life filled with joy was, as Ecclesiastes says, a “miserable business!”
I found my solution in the following words from the same book: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Do not be afraid as the man of the house to enjoy time with family.
It is not weak and it is not wrong; in fact, it is encouraged by the Creator. Spend time with your wife, your kids, and your dog. Be there and teach your sons to be men of passion who fan their flames from home. No one should waste life alone. Instead, beautify everything in your world and fuel your joy with the fondness of heart that comes from moments spent with the ones closest to you.
I understand we cannot all be home all the time, but I promise you, if you make it as much of a priority as work or play or whatever else is monopolizing your time, the reward will be well worth the effort.