Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Making Room For Life: Trading Chaotic Lifestyles for Connected Relationships by Randy Frazee

Okay, so I might need to pray about why I'm so hard on Christian authors...*Anyway,

a friend heard me discussing my interest in learning more about Jewish Holidays (or rather, Ancient Christian Traditions, because as my dear Messianic Jewish pastor said, "You're all Jews now, so welcome to the family!") and recommended that I read this book. Rather than illuminate our Christian heritage, this book actually suggests an alternate way of life than the one currently being lived out by most of us in the States.

Frazee, hired to grow, ahem, I mean, pastor, Pantego Bible Church in Ft. Worth, TX did all those things that American pastors think make an attractive church: quickly started lots of programs and small groups and required each member of the staff to lead a "church sponsored" small group. Upon establishing this directive, Pastor Frazee planned to build "the Mother of all Small Groups," inviting a gifted "dream team" to attend.

Around this time, he became so busy with church activities, family life, neighbors, work and chores, that he began to suffer from the mother of all cases of insomnia, spending over 30 days with almost no sleep; and he began to re-think his days. Going back to Genesis 1, he remembered that God ordered a man's life with light, dark and a six-day work week.

His book suggests living contrary to this balance invites disaster in our health, marriages, children, churches, neighborhoods and our careers. From this re-think, he re-engineered his church, and (I'm supposing) his book The Connecting Church (probably) gives much more information about his revised church model than does this book.

In Making Room he intends to show families (1) that the way we live--being incredibly busy each evening with activities that diminish the quality of all our relationships--is neither natural nor Biblical, and (2) that we can get everything done while "making room" for relationships.

I began reading this book in June (at the end of Trixie's homeschool year) and thought, "Yes, my family of origin lived like this when I was a child. Yes, I'd like to return to this lifestyle." But a couple of weeks later, we "cut the cable" and stopped watching TV, and I found myself busier than ever! About this time in my life, I came to the place in the book where Frazee suggests that it's entirely possible to get everything done that needs doing in one day by 6pm. Six Pee Em?! Uh, yeah. Right. Then, it became my deepest desire to throw the book against the wall, breaking its binding, and shred all the pages whilst screaming wildly, but I couldn't because it was the library's book. (I'd've totally done it though, if the book were mine.) And the library was asking for the book back. Masochist that I am, I decided to finish the book.

Meanwhile, I did a version of "screaming wildly," which sounded something like, "Of course, he can finish his day by 6pm. He only has to go to work and come home where, like, everything is magically done for him! His kids are in school--they're not homeschooling, so his wife stays home and does all the chores (which never get undone, because she's the only one living in the house from the hours of 7-4) runs all the errands and then has dinner on at 6pm, just like he wants. Like magic. Then, she's stuck doing all the after-dinner clean-up while he and the kids do just as they please!" (I know. Pitiful.)

And actually, as I continued to read, I realized that this isn't exactly how it works in their family, and I finally came to chapter 11 (of 13) and to the appendix (entitled "A Word to Church Leaders). This really made it much better. For me, anyway. Looking back, I'm not even sure what made chapter 11 and the appendix so redemptive, but somewhere between chapters 5 and 11, as I mulled over the premise laid out in Chapter 1, I realized that some of what Frazee proposed might be possible, even for me.

The ideal he envisions is a good one, even if (I feel) he takes awhile to get to the point. So if this sounds interesting to you, and you don't have time to read the whole book (filled with very fat white margins, good-sized print and plenty of space between rows), just read chapter 11, the appendix and maybe one of the chapters on how to eliminate the unique obstacles in your life that prevent you from experiencing this lifestyle.

* Uh, no need to pray about why I'm hard on Christian authors. I don't like how some of them use an entire book (trees were killed for this, people!) to explain, defend, belabor an elementary principle, when the material can easily be summed down to something about the size of an internet article. Or a blog entry.

1 comment:

  1. This has caused me to think. I know in my own life when I am moving too fast I do not have quality relationships. Even within my own home. I have to slow down to achieve those. I'm always trying to find the right balance.