Thursday, May 11, 2006
Happy Birthday Son
I know you don’t like it much when I wax sentimental (you don’t like the drama) but when I think of you I can’t really stop myself from going that route because I miss you so. There was a snowball fight we had when you were about 3. There was fishing at a pond in a park in Englewood, Ohio where you caught the biggest fish and it was a catfish, while everyone else caught little sunfish. We played basketball at our concrete court in New Carlisle, OH. We went rabbit hunting and you were the dog in back of Grandpa’s house. We drove down to get your Rose and I saw the look on your face when you picked her out. There is so much more.
Some people come into your life and you think that they’ve come straight from the depths of Hell because with them they bring a load of trouble and they somehow touch every last nerve in your body. We are tempted to flee them because they bring up reactions that make us uncomfortable.
Some people come into your life and you know that somehow God knew just what you wanted and that person fits the bill and awakens in you a pleasure or a laugh or a sensual thought or maybe they just flat out make you feel like a million bucks.
Some people that seem to come and go in our lives and they don’t really leave much of an impact one way or another. We share a school project, play together on a team, share a room for awhile, party together, or go on a date with them and the time passes by and they go their way and we go ours and it seems there is some unspoken agreement that we are not going to continue the relationship past the season of life we find each other in.
Then there is your family…..
Your family somehow fits into the first two categories but unlike all other people, your family is not chosen, they are gifted to you. I know, they don’t always seem like a gift but they are! We go through life and at every stage we feel that WE know just what it is that we need to advance. First it’s the necessary things like baby rice and formula and human touch and sleep and maybe a little lullaby to sing to our heart. Next it’s the selfish needs, juice instead of water, ice cream instead of peas, a boost of confidence when we’ve just used permanent marker on the wall, etc. We cry out for these things and sometimes we get them and sometimes we don’t. During adolescence our needs from our family are mostly physical (some of the understanding of what is good for us rather than what we want begins to form) but a pat on the back for a job well done is also very much needed. Then there is the pre-teen years when we develop bonds with our family and we go to them for moral support and we are starting to mature so we want to do “responsible” things to show how grown up we are. This is the last time we really feel our family could possibly be a gift for many of us.
I don’t know where to go from here because based on my own experience there is absolutely nothing that happened with my family after that period that remotely seemed like a gift at the time. I look back now and see it was mostly because with a gift there comes the responsibility of receiving it. Sometimes the gift from our family is positive and sometimes its negative but God has a way of working it all out to prosper us as promised.
You have been a wonderful gift to me son. You spent most of your childhood trying to live up to my fantasy expectations that, even though I didn’t say much to you about them, you knew. Pridefully, I spoke about you as if what you have to offer somehow came from my genes and as if I somehow had control over what genes you ended up with (you are God’s creation, not mine, I just got the privilege of growing with you). It didn’t matter what you began, you could be above-average at it. Nothing you ever did was mediocre (well maybe baseball and basketball but you didn’t spend a lot of time on those and were still a little above average). Even when you didn’t meet my expectations you, as a gift, kept on giving by dredging up my own insecurities so I could offer them to Jesus to take with him to the cross.
You still give. Every time I extend my hand to you and you don’t accept it I realize how many times I’ve done that to God myself. Every time I send an email that doesn’t get an answer I am reminded to approach the world in humility and with a teachable spirit. Every time I hear you speak about your future plans I am reminded of how small I’ve lived my life and how I need to live more strongly “To whom much is given, much is required”. Every time my heart aches over the time we are missing that normal fathers and sons get to spend together I am reminded by the spirit within me that I am not a father of a season but of a lifetime. I am also reminded that this life we are living here is but a breath. Every time I feel that I may never be forgiven by you I am reminded that first I must forgive others.
Happy Birthday(it should be called Lifeday),