The days after redeployment may require family multitasking
From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. (Nehemiah 4:16–17)
And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.” (Nehemiah 4:19–20)
How are you at multitasking? I do not mean eating breakfast and thinking about lunch simultaneously—I have that down to a fine art. Multitasking is the ability to handle more than one task at a time. As much as we value and try to improve our multitasking ability, research reports that it is not good for our bodies or our minds. Yet we continue to challenge the naysayers, and some of us are even successful at holding a sleeping baby with one hand while quietly emptying the dishwasher with the other.
Research does, however, provide strong proof that multitasking can wear you out physically and emotionally.1 In other words, beware of trying to do too much. Be especially vigilant during the reintegration process. As you focus on rebuilding routine and ritual back into your family, watch for threats like exhaustion and irritability from trying to do it all at one time.
As you focus on rebuilding routine and ritual back into your family, watch for threats like exhaustion and irritability from trying to do it all at one time
Nehemiah’s team of builders put new meaning to multitasking as they worked with one hand with weapons in the other. Their challenge was not only multitasking, but feeling isolated. Each family was responsible for a section of the wall with broad space between each section. It was easy to feel cut off and secluded, to believe the threat of enemy attack was ever-present. To combat the intimidation of “what ifs” Nehemiah established a warning system. The people were to rally to the sound of the trumpet. The builders left no one alone and in danger of ambush.
My friend, you may think you are the only one rebuilding a routine or a relationship while also doing all the other things life demands. But like the Jewish families rebuilding a portion of the city wall, many families in your military community are rebuilding from deployment alongside you.
Sometimes, multitasking is unavoidable. Nehemiah’s wall-builders had no choice but to hold a sword in one hand and lay stones with the other. However, they only did this for fifty-two days—until the wall was complete. The days after redeployment may require family multitasking. If all goes well, and with God’s help, your family can quickly recover from deployment and shift focus to other family concerns.
What can you learn from Nehemiah’s strategy for completing God’s work in Nehemiah 4:9, 14, and 20? In what ways does your family multitask?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, grant me wisdom and courage to face the tasks set before me. When I am weary, remind me: “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9a NLT). Amen.
1 “Multitasking: Switching Costs,” www.apa.org, March 20, 2006, http://www.apa.org/research/action/multitask.aspx, (accessed March 7, 2015).