In the ER I interact with people from all different walks of life. I share in some of their greatest joys and also in some of their hardest and darkest hours. And everything in between. And in that I also see the dirt and grim and yuckiness that most keep hidden. A lot of that grim comes in the form of families, and man, it is ugly sometimes. I’m not talking about family squabbles, although I do get a handful of those, but the ugliness of broken families.
No family is perfect. Families are made up of people and we all know that people are far from perfect. I like to think of families as being on a spectrum, from functional, to not functional, to downright destructive. On one of my last shifts I had two different encounters with families that were deep on the destructive side, some of it was hard to stomach to be honest. In fact I was hoping that a nice functional family would check in with a simple sprained ankle that I could actually help and do something about, because there was nothing I could do about the mess that the other ones were in.
Those interactions got me thinking a lot. In no way have I got this parenting thing figured out. I mess up on an hourly and sometimes minute to minute basis. But I also don’t want my boys to just survive their way into adulthood and to be functional adults (which would be totally fine), but I want them to thrive and be amazing young men. I want them to be the ones who are befriending the lonely person at school, the ones who stand up for the one getting picked on, the ones that care more about what is right than what feels good or what others are doing. I want them to be examples. I want them to be strong, not physically (although that wouldn’t be a bad thing) but to have an inner strength that permeates their beings. I want a lot, I know.
Where do all big dreams begin? For me they begin in prayer. And that’s honestly not something I have been good at doing. I need to spend more time on my knees for my boys than I do worrying about what school they are going to get in, or planning out activities or learning opportunities, or figuring out how to teach them about “stranger danger”.
And I need to set an example too. How can I expect them to be something that I am not? In my words, my actions, my attitudes, I have little eyes and ears paying close attention, and soon those eyes and ears won’t watch or listen to anything I have to say or do. And so now is the time that I have to humbly start living out the way that I hope they will someday live out. I want them to know what was really important to mommy, was it a text message or the chance to go on a run, or was it taking the time to care for someone else when it was most needed?
And more than anything, well probably just as important as the prayer part, all of this needs covered in grace. Because my boys aren’t perfect and they aren’t going to be. I will get that phone call or observe it myself; that they were the ones initiating the teasing, they were the ones who were mean, they were the ones who….whatever. And what will my response be? I pray now, that it will be one of love and grace. There are consequences definitely for actions, but through that there is grace and love, may my boys always know that no matter what they do or choices they make, I don’t love them for their actions or choices whether good or bad, but simply because they are my sons.
I need that same grace from my Heavenly Father. I’m going to fail, a lot. He has to be the source of my inner strength, because I’m going to fall flat on my face often and hard. Thankfully I have a life time to teach and try and live this out, I’m going to need it and all the grace that comes with it. For now, I’m going to wrestle in the grass with my boys as the sun shines bright and listen to their giggles get carried across the bright blue sky and pray for the wisdom and strength that I need for each moment.