Our small group went to a Ken Davis comedy concert last night, and it was pretty good. Davis was funny, but he also talked about being married, and having kids. Above that, though, he talked about sharing the Good News of Jesus with people, and he did it well. He talked about raising kids, and grandkids, and about how fast it went.
He’s right. We got home after the show, and I looked at the boys, and it seemed like yesterday I could pick David up by one foot, and cradle John in one arm like a football. Not anymore. All of a sudden, David is a pre-adolescent, and the size of some adults. John is a tough little 3 year old. Damn, it goes so fast. I’m up with John right now and I can’t stop looking at him, waiting to see if I’ll actually be able to witness his growth. And now I’m also sitting here thinking that it’s so interesting how much we learn about ourselves and about God from our kids. Happens to me all the time. I wrote this piece a few months ago, and I read over it again this morning. I have great kids.
This morning I was thinking about my kids again. Not unusual for a parent, I know, but what I was thinking was that sometimes I wish they would be like other kids. I wish they would obey better, and not get in so much trouble. I wish they would be quiet when I’m trying to do school work. I wish they would be kinder to each other, and not be so obsessed with things.
And just now, sitting here in an air conditioned building miles into the desert, I realized I am no different, so how can I expect them to be? If what I see in them is not Jesus, isn’t that because they don’t see Jesus in me?
When I see them being selfish, or fighting, or not respecting the wishes of their mother and I, how am I any different from that with God? Do I love them any less because of what I perceive as their flaws? Or course not, though sometimes I act like it.
There can be no condition to love, or it is not love.
Brennan Manning wrote that God loves us as we are, and not as we should be. For all intents and purposes, I am Jesus to my sons. In that I represent him to them. So when they mess up because of some bad decision. or break something, or act other than Godly, I need to forget about who I think they ought to be and just love them for the imperfect creations they are.
My two year old taught me something about that just yesterday, and it breaks my heart to think of it again. I gave him a bath yesterday, and I usually take off my shirt when I do that, because he splashes around like a hooked fish, and will kick his feet and say “I swimming, daddy!”
Swim time was over and I still hadn’t put my shirt back on. I was sitting on my bed and getting John dressed. He stood at the foot of my bed and I noticed he was looking at me funny. This is where I should mention I have some moderate to serious skin issues with psoriasis. When I am able to get some sun on it and remember to treat it with ointment, it isn’t so bad. When I forget, it looks like this (I am only posting these as a frame of reference for what comes next)
The top picture is on the side of my abdominal area, and the other is my right forearm. I have more on my calves and the other side of my abdomen. Consequently, I seldom take off my shirt in public. I hate the questions, and the looks. At first I thought John was giving me the look, which seemed strange because he’d seen my scars before.
What he did was just look for a moment, then slowly reach out his hand. He gently caressed each of my scars, and then leaned looked up at me and said “What’s that, Daddy? Owwies?”
“Yeah,” I said. “That’s daddy’s owwies.”
Then he leaned forward and kissed the scars on my sides and my arm. “All better,” he said. “Love you, daddy.”
That was what undid me. I covered my face for a minute so he wouldn’t see my tears, but then I just picked him up and held him. And I thought that he didn’t care that my skin was ugly and scarred. He just loved me, scars, bad skin and all.
As I was, and not as I should be.
So today, my resolution is this: just love the boys, scars, warts, and all. They are not perfect and they never will be.
Neither will I.