My husband and I care deeply about people. We desire to honor the great commission with our lives, giving of resources and ourselves whenever possible. We view loving the world and meeting the needs of others as our job because Jesus said it was.
One of the things I love most about my husband is his generous spirit. Despite having stayed up late the night before to work his budget magic, ensuring our finances stay afloat, he never thinks twice when I call and ask about helping someone in need. Whether it’s sending money to a friend so she can buy her daughter a birthday present, or taking on a sponsored child, my husband is always saying, “Sure, I can wait until next month to buy new shoes, send the money.”
These values are important enough to us that we talk to our children about them regularly, as we invite them to give sacrificially as well. For my oldest son, this has always been an idea that seemed to come somewhat naturally. Other people’s happiness matters deeply to him. But then there’s my youngest. She’s four and convinced with deep, abiding passion the earth revolves around her. Everyone should be working around the clock to ensure she gets everything she wants whenever she wants it. She views my multiple chronic illnesses as a major inconvenience. When am I going to be able to play with her? Why am I always sleeping? Can she get a new Mom, stat?
At least three times a week she asks me, “Why are you just so sick all the time?” I explain to her that my body’s immune system doesn’t function properly. We talk about germs and the tick that gave me Lyme disease. We discuss how sometimes your immune system can become confused and attack your own body with things like Rheumatoid Arthritis. At the conclusion of this heartwarming discussion, she promptly looks at with me disgust and tells me I need to eat better and exercise more so I “won’t have all those sicknesses anymore.” This is the wisdom that has been imparted to her by her beloved “shows.” Once again, I explain I have not done anything wrong, that getting sick can happen to anyone. I tell her about how much I want to do all the things other Mommy’s can and how thankful I am for the people who love me just as I am. And then she says, “I’m glad I don’t have any sicknesses!”
I am too, of course. But to see her have some sensitivity sure wouldn’t break my heart. My husband took her to the supermarket one day where she promptly saw a morbidly obese man and cried out, “I don’t want to be like him!” while pointing. Yes, this is my darling daughter. What’s that? It’s your darling child, too? What shall we do? Hang our heads in shame? Throw in the towel? Trace our parenting steps to determine where we went wrong?
Here’s the thing about our kids: they don’t come to us fully formed. They aren’t delivered on our doorsteps as complete mini-humans we simply monitor until releasing into the wild on the day they turn eighteen. This is why they have parents. So we can do the hard, exhausting, never-ending work of molding, shaping, coaching, loving, disciplining them into decent human beings. We get to make the most of these “teachable” moments. Lucky us.
So when my daughter continues to mention week after week how “funny” it is to her that’s she’s so much taller than her best friend even though she was born two years after her, I remind her about premature birth and stunted growth rates. We talk about her friend’s fight for life at birth and what a miracle her life is. I do the exhausting work of parenting–––as many times as it takes.
And one day, these kids of ours, they’re going to blow our minds with the fruit of our labor. One day, all those seeds we’ve been planting are going to start taking root at once, and we’re going to thankful we stayed the course.
For today, let’s keep our hands to the plow.