It may look and sound like polemic parody. But it’s not intended as such.
Thanks, Richard, for starting the discussion.
After several years of being a full-time provider, I didn’t think staying home two days a week would be a big deal. A year following the birth of our first child, my wife became pregnant again. She became seriously ill and her body wasn’t strong enough to nurture a new pregnancy as well as a toddler. We decided that, with the help of good management, I could oversee things two days a week.
I missed being at work at first, but I hadn’t counted on how much I would enjoy my new position. The two days a week soon grew to three and sometimes four. Changing diapers and looking for missing shoes became more rewarding than desk work. I wore pajamas all day and found time to pursue my own interests during the hours I was home.
Over time I found myself annoyed that after spending all day at home I still had a business to manage, so I often delegated to my assistant. When I walked in the office door, my coworkers clamored for my attention when all I wanted to do was unwind. In response to the perceived ingratitude of my staff, I became even more involved with my toddler, who wasn’t doing very well despite my attention.
One day while driving to work I found myself searching for any possible reason to delay my arrival. Was there one more errand I could run? Had I left anything undone at home? I realized with surprise that I didn’t want to be at the office. In fact, I wanted to be anywhere but the office. Matthew 6:21 reads, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I no longer treasured being at work with my office staff—my heart was not in it.
I pulled into my parking spot and sat in my car for a few minutes. Even with the realization of how far from the path I had veered, my attitude didn’t instantly change. I was overwhelmed with guilt, sorrow, and embarrassment, yet I still didn’t want to go inside. Feeling a little panicked, I felt the prompting of the Spirit to do the only thing I could think of—I bowed my head over the steering wheel and prayed.
I asked for forgiveness for straying so far from my divine role, and then I made two pleas: first, that I could rekindle my desire to be at work; and second, that Heavenly Father would help me find a way to return to work full time. I felt confident that in time I could rediscover my joy of being at work with my staff, but I had no idea how the second request could be achieved. My kid was struggling, and my wife was barely able to get out of bed. I didn’t know what the solution would be, but I had faith that things would get better somehow. I went to bed that night with a heavy heart, but I was determined to do my part to make things better.
I repeated my prayer every day. I stopped pursuing personal business during home hours so I could be at work more often. I took pride in not delegating work to my assistant. My attitude didn’t change overnight and it was often frustrating to have to work so hard at changing it, but in time I learned to enjoy being at work again. However, aspects of family life weren’t coming together the way I had hoped. In fact, things were getting worse.
A few months after our second child was born, we reached a point where we were no longer able to take care of both children. Eventually we had no choice but to put the toddler up for adoption.
It was impossible not to take the failure personally. We had made so many sacrifices and worked so hard, but the family had failed despite our best efforts. We had never faced anything like this and found the entire experience overwhelming. And yet, there was one element that was impossible to ignore. Once we no longer had two children, I would be at work again.
I had prayed to return to work full time, and though I assumed it would be through the success of the family, not the failure, I received exactly what I had asked for. Matthew 6:20 reads, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” Through this experience I have come to realize just how important it was to the Lord that I be at the office providing for my family, regardless of the consequences. The power of prayer was also driven home as I realized just how well my Father in Heaven had listened to my pleas for help. He had first helped me to change my heart, and then He helped change my circumstances.
Being at work again isn’t all enjoyment. I still spend a lot of time on mind-numbing desk work, and at times I long for the respect and satisfaction I found at home. However, my heart is now back where it belongs, and I once again treasure my role as a father. I lost sight of my true riches for a time, but through the help of my Father in Heaven I was able to go to the office again and stay there.