Monday, April 9, 2007

From Wrestling to Africa, Oh My!

Sometimes we make mistakes, and sometimes we do things right. I can think of no better place that is illustrated than as a parent, and the outcome of your kids. I know some get tired of me talking about my kids, but to that I say, get over it! They are my kids and I love both of them.

In the last few days I have learned about my son. Of course I am always learning, but I am learning how to love and how to parent, even when he makes mistakes. I thought I had it all figured out, after all my daughter is in her 20's, married and has a successful career. I thought I had been through it all with her. Boy was I ever wrong. Two different people, raised by the same parents, yet, uniquely different. I won't get into it much other than to say, that over the last week or so, my son is learning some valuable lessons. Then again, so is his mother and I. I won't talk much about the lessons he has learned because he likes his privacy. I will say some about the lessons his mother and I have learned.

Truth is, two different people will go through life, experiencing some of the same things, such as parenting and will react totally different to some of that same parenting. I think that says something about the nature of God, he creates us all differently, but it also says something about how we as parents have to learn lessons and treat our children as individuals. We have to love them all along the process, even after they make mistakes. My son is on a life journey, he will learn along the way. I sometimes see myself in him, even though he is adopted. I know that some of that is learned, but I also know that God sometimes has a sense of humor. I find myself challenged as well. Realizing all along the way, I sometimes make mistakes, and as much as I try, those mistakes keep on happening. I am grateful though, the mistakes come less, but the lessons still sting just as much.

Then there are things about my daughter. Both she and her husband have great jobs. He works at a golf course and she is the creative design person for Mennonite Church USA. For some time I was concerned about where she was in her faith. But I raised my daughter to be an independent young woman, seeking truth but always standing on her own two feet. She in many ways has obtained at least at this point in her life all that a parent could wish for. As I type this she is making more money than her mother or I have ever made, happily married, working in a service, religion related job, and happily involved in her church. One would have to be careful about pigeonholing her especially if doing so with some religious perceptions. She just wouldn't fit most of those images. There is something else she is doing right now though that I am proud of.

As I type, my daughter is traveling into the jungles of the Congo to visit churches and see what types of advancements they have made since some of the recent political turmoil in the Congo. She has already relayed through her husband that her eyes have been opened to a number of things while there. We will have to wait several weeks for her to come back and show us the photos, tell us the stories and all of that. But last night over dinner, her husband, my wife and I were talking about how we wouldn't be surprised if she came home stating that she felt the need to move to Africa or some other third world country working with the poor and needy in that particular country. That is just the type of person she is, her mom and dad know it, and her husband knows it. Depending on who you talk to, her mother and I got exactly what we wanted, a young independent woman who would go after her dreams, but hopefully having dreams that would have an impact on the world.

I guess today's challenge is to those who are parents. Where are you in the relationship with your child? What do you want for them as they get older? What kinds of obstacles are there in the way? How can you help them obtain their own dreams? I don't know the answer to all of those things, but I do know that for us as parents, God has been critical in our lives. Not always in the same way that others might think from involvement with church and those types of things. But for us, a real honest relationship with Jesus Christ has been critical. I can't imagine that through the mistakes and the blessings, things would have turned out quite like they did without the help of God and the good comfort provided by his Spirit.

Yea, we all make mistakes, we all do things right. But on our own, I just don't know if any of us are good enough to make sure that things will turn out right. I wish we were, I wish I was, but truth is, I know the truth about myself. I am totally incapable of being who I need to be to raise two wonderful children, and on top of that, be married for over 26 years now. Thankfully I had help along the way, help from friends, my wife, the church, but most importantly from God. I don't deserve all of the good things, including the children I have, but I sure am grateful for them. What about you? What do you have that you are grateful for?

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