One evening, several years ago, I was very busy working on some new songs for a Christmas program. My youngest daughter, Kathryn, about 6 at the time, came into the music room. She was happy and excited about a song she had composed, and she was anxious to sing it to me.
I told her that Daddy was really busy right then, and I suggested that she come back later and I would listen to her song. She said, “OK,” and turned to leave the room. Suddenly a deep sorrowful pain gripped my chest, which I instantly recognized as guilt pains. I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that I had just made a terrible mistake; that there was not, nor ever will there ever be, anything more important than giving my little girl the attention she desired when she wanted it. With tears in my eyes, I ran to her, embraced her and ask her to sing me her song. She did so, and went on her way to do something else, probably thinking that old Dad had lost his mind. Little did she know what an important lesson I had learned – one that I will never forget.
That evening I composed a new song entitled, “Nose To The Grindstone,” inspired by that experience. The second verse says:
“Not right now little darling, Daddy hasn’t got the time
I know your growing up so fast, but I have these deadlines
Come on back in a little while, and I’ll listen to your song
Right now I’ve got my nose to the grindstone, we’ll have plenty of time later on.
Too busy to see her beauty, too blind to see the light
I’ve got my nose to the grindstone, I’m grinding away my life.”
We are taught form early childhood the importance of hard work. We are taught to believe that if we want to be successful in life, we must roll up our sleeves, put our hands to the plow and our nose to the grindstone. We think that one of the worst four letter words we can be called is “lazy.” To be recognized as a hard worker is a great compliment.
It is true, hard work is important to accomplish any goal. However, as with all things in life, we must learn to put work time priorities in proper perspective. We all want to succeed, make a good living, have the comforts that money can buy and do our best. But if we sacrifice relationships, especially family, our success and our happiness may not balance out – just ask any millionaire on his deathbed with no family or friends around him. Our “hard work” must include making time for those we love – first and foremost.
The phrase “nose to the grindstone” was first recorded in 1532 in a writing by Frith entitled “Mirror to Know Thy Self.” He wrote, “This Text holdeth their noses so hard to the grindstone, that it clean disfigureth their faces.” Good imagery – because the longer we set at the grindstone the more our countenance can change for the worst. You know; “all work and no play…” We must seek balanced lives.
So how are you doing with the grindstone? Are you sitting at the grinding wheel so much that your relationships are suffering? If your child, or spouse, or friend needs some of your time, are you ready to stop grinding and see to them? Or do you put them off until another time? How are your priorities?
I have never forgotten that day in the music room. When the Holy Spirit grips your heart, you do not easily forget – it is not something you want to experience anymore than you have to. Hard work is important, but it should never take priority over our loved ones. Kathryn taught me this valuable lesson that day: If we are ever too busy to hear the song in our loved one’s heart, we are way too busy. May we evaluate our lives and our priorities to make sure we never neglect those who are so important to us, or neglect those who God sends to us that need our help. Look up from the grinding wheel. Do not grind away your life.
DR. SAM SMITH, DC