We are particularly happy this week to welcome our son Noah as a guest columnist. Noah, our fourth son, was born on the very day that Ronald Reagan was elected, and has made us proud every day since. At East High, he was student body president and an all-state and honorable-mention all-American basketball player. He played for BYU-Hawaii and then graduated from BYU. He now works for a remarkable company called Imagine Learning. Vastly more important than any of this, he married the lovely Kristi Monson, and they have given us four of the most incredible grandchildren on the planet!
The other day as we looked in the rear-view mirror of our car and saw four sleeping children in their car seats, my wife, Kristi, remarked, “How in the world did all these kids get in our car?!”
It seems that in the blink of an eye we went from reading “Just Married” in the rear-view mirror (which we left on for a while because we learned speed-trap cops are sympathetic to newlyweds) to four kids. Like any parents, we are determined to give our kids stability and identity as the world bombards them with an endless stream of data, information and options.
We are surrounded — especially in the world of blogs and Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest — by appealing ideas. If we are not careful, we find ourselves clamoring after all of them, spending a tremendous amount of time and effort scampering around the surface of life without taking time to look at the core, let alone to focus on it.
Contrast this image of scampering around the surface with the much better image of a stable focus on the core.Now the surrounding brilliance of ideas and data pouring out of every digital outlet imaginable can serve as synergistic pieces to enhance the core. A core-focused person can much more easily discern what information is truly useful and helpful and can dismiss the rest.
The core is relationships.
Nothing, not even something as sacred and important as the scriptures, is very useful unless it, in some way, directly or indirectly, enhances our relationships and our ability to focus on making our most important relationships stronger — relationships with God, with our families and with our selves.
If we focus on these relationships and set goals and visions and plans around them, we are able to measure the value of other “things” based on how much they help with the relationship core.
One day I was facing some difficult challenges at work and was trying to sort out in my mind the right solutions to the problems. That night, Kristi and I were getting the kids bathed and as I was drying my 3-year-old daughter’s hair, holding her in my arms, she looked right at me and said, “Are you here, Dad?”
That question shook me up. I was not “there” and I needed to be. When we consistently make the non-urgent-yet-most-important take center stage in our minds, even over the urgent-and-important, we begin to build real, deep, lasting, security-giving relationships.
As we work to balance our lives with all of its demands, putting relationships at the center — at the core — will help us put everything else in perspective.
Also, with the stability that comes from a relationship-centric life comes the ability to take risks. When the things that matter most are in order, we feel emboldened to step out of our comfort zone in other aspects of our life, and it often seems that those with the best relationships are also those who accomplish the most.
As we think about those four kids in the rear-view mirror, Kristi centers us by asking the question, “What is our purpose, and what are we doing with what we have been given?”
No matter how many times we have answered these questions, I love re-evaluating them because it leads our minds right back to the core. We can handle difficult challenges when we have an anchor, and the anchor is all about relationships.
Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who are in demand throughout the world as speakers on parenting and life balance. You can visit them anytime at www.TheEyres.com or at www.ValuesParenting.com.