According to Time Magazine, nearly 70% of Americans receive a routine medical checkup, while 90% of Americans believe it is important. Clearly, people value knowing how things are going. Routine checkups can be helpful to learn what we don’t know or what we can’t see without someone else’s input and wisdom. Our lives should be handled in the same way. It was after one of these routine eye exams that it got me thinking of the check-ups in my life, and not just the physical ones.
A Routine Eye Exam Reveals More
This past fall, we were extremely surprised to find out that our 8-year-old son had a detached retina just below his field of vision. We knew this would be his someday situation, but certainly not this early. He is normally seen in our local office, but for “some reason” I had accidentally made his 6-month checkup in the downtown location, which is where all the specialists hold appointments. I had nearly canceled because, well, it fell on my birthday and driving that far sounded just terrible. I decided to just be mature, take him in and spend my birthday waiting. But like most things that seem like random events, there was a reason for it that hadn’t unfolded yet. I’m so glad for that check-up. If he hadn’t gone, that retina could’ve torn more and gone into his field of vision. He had just started the process of playing tackle football and I’m sure one real tackle would’ve left him with permanent damage. But because it was scheduled, and valued over things (and good physician care), it saved his eyesight.
The Importance of Relational Check-ups
My husband actually has the practice of doing routine check-ups with me. He said he learned early on in our marriage we had different expectations or hopes for the evenings, so on his way home from work he will often ask, “What’s important to you to get done or do tonight?” He also asks me when we are sitting around on the weekends, “What do you want this weekend to look like?” These are his ways of living with his wife in an understanding way. He asks the big picture questions too, like, “What’s important to you these days?” He is a great man who asks great questions. It makes me feel seen and heard and valued. I have learned from him and try to do this with our children.
Nightly Tuck-Ins are the Sweet Spot of Checkups
At night, as I tuck my kids in bed, I will often ask these deeper questions about how they are really doing, if there is anything on their mind, are they feeling happy, anything I can pray for? Nighttime is their sweet spot of vulnerability. A checkup with them at bedtime is often where I hear their hearts the most, especially during middle school and into high school. Being tired or a late night keeps me from doing this with the older kids as much now, but it’s still a great time to seek them out if they are home.
Try an Annual Planning Weekend
Something we built into our lives years ago was going away for the weekend to review the year with its highs and lows and discuss at a high level what is important to us, our family and lives for the upcoming year. We also talk through the full gamut of things like balance sheets, kids activities, sex, personal goals, and what we can do to be sure our family is running on a mission, according to our values. This annual routine checkup makes me feel like we will have an uninterrupted time to talk through big picture items and also a time to share how we feel about life as a whole because frankly, schedules can keep couples from having heart connections and derail from the mission.
Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
I’m asking myself today, who or what in my life need more checkups? Honestly, I’d say it is probably a friendship or two. I find maintaining friendships difficult right now amidst my harried lifestyle. I tend to require a lot of overlap to keep things going these days, it’s frustrating. I feel it might be valuable to sit down with my thoughts, dreams, and values and do a self checkup, overlap it in the grace that I have been given, and make sure I’m doing the things that matter most to me. Just like I am thankful a routine checkup saved my son’s vision, doing some more of these routine checkups just might save my own vision for the life I’ve been given.