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Black and Married with Kids: Turn Off Your Auto-Pilot

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Me: "Don't eat any food or drink anything until you have said your grace."

Daughter: "God is great and God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. Amen. Thank you, Jesus."

She said that as fast as she could and I think she was already chewing by the time she finished saying Jesus.

Me: "Say the entire thing and don't rush. You should say your grace like you mean it... like you are really thankful that God gave you this food to eat. It is not a time for playing or eating. It's a time for giving thanks."

And she slowed down and said it.

My daughter was going through the motions. She said her grace before every meal, without any thought to what it meant and probably not really being thankful for the meal. It was just a part of her routine.

This made me reflect on the many ways we can just go through the motions in our daily lives. For instance, how about at church? Are you just going to church just to say that you went to church on Sunday?

You were fussing and cussing before church. You arrived at church and turned on your praise and worship face as soon as you sat down. When service was over, you got back into your car and started fussing and cussing again. You were still in the parking lot and you were cussing folks out because they wanted to merge in front of you. Shooooooot it will take you an hour to get out of that parking lot if you start letting folks get in front of you.

Did you even hear the pastor's message today? Did hear him when he read: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV, John 13:34-35)

The pastor taught about Loving Thy Neighbor this Sunday morning. Where were you?

How about in your marriage? Are you going through the motions? Are you on auto-pilot in your relationship? Wake-up, get dressed, kiss the spouse, go to work, come home, eat dinner, piddle around, and go to bed. The next thing you know...it's time to do it all again. And then you look up and the years have flown by and your relationship is in trouble.

One good thing that I can say about going through the motions is that it helps you to start a routine. Going through the motions can get you into church every Sunday, can get you to go to those marriage counseling sessions with your spouse, and can get you through the day. But if you want to take your situation to the next level of realization where you are actually making progress, making changes, receiving understanding, and seeing some real results and growth, then you have to:

1. Turn off the auto-pilot.

2. Learn to be Present. Be in the here and now. Don't think about yesterday or what's next. Be aware of your actions.

3. While you are being present, make a physical or emotional or psychological connection. Try to relate to the person or situation. Open your self up to receive and learn new things. And if you are not able to connect, then that's ok because you will know that it is time to switch up and do something different. If you are on autopilot, then you may not even realize that what you are doing is not benefiting you.

Going through the motions is how people can attend churches for years and never develop a personal relationship with God and never develop an understanding of God's word.

Going through the motions is how people that have been married for 28 years end up in divorce court because they "grew apart"...they looked up one day and discovered that they were not happy.

Essence Family - Have you ever been guilty of going through the motions? What did you do to resolve the situation?

Lamar and Ronnie Tyler are the creators of the award-winning blog BlackandMarriedWithKids.com. They also are behind the Amazon.com bestselling DVDs Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me and the upcoming film "Men Ain't Boys" that will explore manhood in the African American community. The Tylers are also the proud parents of four children.
Filed Under: Making It Work
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