Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Barney and the simple life

“…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands” -1 Thess. 4:11

It was never a problem for Andy Taylor to admit he lived in a small town and that “sheriffing” was not particularly difficult in Mayberry.

Barney, on the other hand, was always upset that he worked “in a hick town.” He was constantly requesting tear gas and sub machine guns to fight off the “mafia influence in Mayberry.” He resented what Andy embraced: a simple, quiet life.

In the later shows of Andy Griffith, after Barney moved to Mount Pilot, he got a corner room at the YMCA and worked for the police department. Barney was describing how fast life was in the big city and said, “Sometimes I walk through the lobby of the Y and don’t even stop to say hello to the people there. There's always someone on the lobby either using the public typewriter or eating a pear."

In this super hyped-up electronic world we live in, the pace and complexity of life has invaded the family lifestyle. Like Barney, teens and adults want more than they need. We think that if we live in anything less than a fully-wired HD, WiFi home, we are missing out. The media would have us think that unless we have the latest 3-D television, we’re way behind.

Our kids expect all of the latest methods of entertainment in the household. In our work at Shelterwood, it’s become more and more difficult to impress our teenagers in the “entertainment” world. They come to us having seen and experienced it all. But what many haven't experienced is the simplicity of a morning fishing in Lake Taneycomo and catching trout. Most haven't been on a canoe trip and caught crawdads at the camping spot.

As parents, we control the environment of the family. Our kids don't need tear gas or machine guns, but what they need is us. Whether they’re 8 or 18, they need (and want) time with mom and dad. The best quality time is spent in the simple. Fishing and hunting are classic times to be with your teens; working together in the yard provides good quality time together; playing board games in the house is good interaction time. Your kids may act like they “think it's dumb,” but inside they will cherish the time that you have committed to them.

Beware of lower quality times together. Movies are a blast, but not the best interaction time together. They may ask for us to pick up all their friends to come along, but let them know that “I want to just hang out with you for a while.”

Take the family camping and to the lake; next trip, get off the Interstate and stop at the historical markers on the highways; tonight, grab the family and go to Sonic for dinner and sit outside; give each family member one dollar and go to the neighborhood dollar store. Draw family names and have each family member buy a gift for the person they drew. Go back to the house and go around the circle and have each family member present their gift and tell why they bought it.

Not exactly a trip to Cancun or buying new cars for everyone, but simple fun. And you know what, kids and teenagers love it. Deep inside, they love the simplicity.

Barney loved it too. In the end, he was perfectly content to “go uptown and get a bottle of pop.”

Keep it simple and enjoy the quiet pace of it all with your family.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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