When I started this blog, I made a promise to my family that it would not be a blog about them, as there is nothing more frightening for a middle-schooler than showing up unexpectedly on Dad’s blog where “everyone” can see. So let me start by saying that my comments are really about me and my views on life in a family. It is, however, a perk of being a blogger that I do get to put photos of my “beautiful” family on the web for all the world to see (uh oh, I think I may have just made one of those embarrassing statements). Well, I better move on to my real point at this stage.
I have been thinking a lot this week about the authenticity of family life. Nobody really know you as well as your nuclear family. You can be the “real” you around them, knowing they will accept you, warts and all. For me this means that my family has had to put up with a lot of my multi-tasking over the years (like reading, watching TV and e-mailing all at the same time), as well as my regular weekend naps, and yet they still love me.
It has been said that you can tell a lot about a person by their credit card statements and bank accounts. Where people spend their money says a lot about where their heart is. In that light, it never ceases to amaze me how expensive it is to have a family. You start out wondering if you will ever stop paying for diapers, and and then begin to realize that the older your kids get, the more they cost. As with anything in life, I can choose to look at these costs as expenses or investments. I choose to invest.
I was so privileged to grow up in a home where I knew I was loved from the day I was born. Not everyone has that blessing. Kids growing up in Christian homes are not automatically destined to be saints. Growing up as a missionary kid and having attended two different missionary boarding schools, I was always amazed to discover the number of kids from “good” homes who were not living lives that honored God. As a parent today, I now realize that though my parenting plays a significant role in my boys’ lives, ultimately they will have to make choices to demonstrate that the faith they proclaim with their mouths is really the faith of their hearts as well. This reality has been a means of stretching my faith, as I cannot make these choices for them.
Even though being a parent has been an exhausting and challenging experience so far, it has also been an exhilirating one. The vulnerability of being part of a family that eats, plays, cries and prays together is something I will never regret. My family has had much to do with my own spiritual growth, as I have realized how selfish and self-focused I can really be and how often my own comfort is my number-one priority. As I think about what it means to be a dad, I think too about what it must be like for my heavenly Father. He loves me so much more than I even love my own two boys.
The authenticity of family for me means that no matter how much I may be able to fool those on the outside, I cannot fool the ones who live with me day by day. Why even try? As one of my pastors likes to say, “Live in the Light.” It makes life a whole lot more joyful, even though there will be pain along the way.