Perhaps parents whose children are now grown and doing life for themselves can relate to this post. Now and then I see a parent and their children in a particular moment that reminds me of many of the moments Lisa and I had with ours. The memories of our younger days as parents fade little by little until we rely on witnessing other parents and children in their moments together and are taken back to that precious past. Looking back I sometimes wish I had written more about those days when they were young – perhaps a daily journal of things they did and said. Too late for that.
But before I enter into that all too familiar world of parental guilt – let me say I refuse to look back with regret. Lisa and I raised two marvelous people who make us proud every time we think of them. Without question we did not do everything right. But I have endured too many sermons that drew on men’s natural guilty emotions of not being an adequate father or husband and I’m through with that. As I turn for home in this life God has given me – it’s time to admit things are what they are and God be praised for patching up a lot of mistakes I have made in my life with an abundance of grace and forgiveness. I wish I could tell the dads of this world to just hang in there and accept that none of us are “good” parents – we are flawed through and through and it is in those flaws that God can work his miracle of grace.
This may raise some eyebrows but here goes: I am through trying to be a “Godly” husband and father. I am simply not “Godly”. God is “Godly”. I am merely a man in love with God who will never get it together. I will never stop messing up – never be the kind of father or husband I “should” be and so I am through faking it. What I am is a flawed man who God won’t give up on and thank God neither will my wife and two kids. And when grandchildren come along – get ready – I will be a flawed Grandpa.
But there lies the good news of the gospel. God loves me – flawed. The gospel has been lived out in my life through my children and wife’s love of me more than anyway I can think of. Jesus is alive through them because they forgive me – I forgive them – because God forgives all of us.
I was walking through the campground here the other morning and saw a little family riding their bikes together. There was the dad in the lead followed by what looked like two middle school aged children and bringing up the rear came the youngest child and at the end of the line came the mother. The youngest child had (it appeared) just learned to ride his bike without training wheels and was wobbling his way along at his mom’s encouragement. They all began to descend a fairly steep hill and I watched as the little one continued to pick up speed until I thought for sure he was going to crash and burn at the bottom of the hill. In the meantime I noticed that the parents said nothing – just allowed whatever was going to happen – happen. It crossed my mind that the parents were being a bit negligent. How could they let this little boy go down this hill? He was not ready. He could get hurt. They should be more careful. I could almost not bear to watch. His little legs could no longer keep up with the spinning pedals and he straightened his legs out as he flew down toward his dad and siblings. His momentum carried him into a grassy area and amazingly he managed to go around all of them and take the lead at the curve at the bottom of the hill. I laughed out loud. I thought if that would have been me I probably would have been screaming at the top of my lungs and probably mad when I finally got to him. Here the moment passed without incident as the parents let happen what was going to happen. Which in the end turned out being nothing.
Experts may look at this as parental neglect. Some may say the parents and child simply lucked out in avoiding serious injury or consequences. Others would go as far as to say they are not fit to be parents. The truth is – none of us are.
I don’t know what the lesson in all this is – maybe there is not one. But I do try to control things that are out of my control. I do too much worrying about things that I can’t change or manage. Life sometimes sends us and our children flying out of control down a hill and all we really can do is pray and hang on.
And when we take the lead and escape injury at the bottom of the hill – I think we should celebrate!