As I sat on our porch this morning watching two toddlers explore and play, I thanked God for the opportunity to love and nurture these two little boys. Their smiles and laughter and curiosity bring joy to our lives. Often though, I feel a twinge of sadness. I once had two little toddlers named Ethan and Noah, who also brought much joy. And now they are grown and out in the big world experiencing life on a much grander scale than a porch. Isn’t that what we all want as parents? But I feel a sadness because I can’t be there to celebrate their triumphs and encourage them through the rough times. Oh yes, I am so thankful for Skype and internet and Viber because I can remain in contact and at least get the outline of how their life story is developing. Yet, I still feel like I’m missing the details. And I’m not really a detail person but I still wonder, are they feeling neglected? They are forced to manage more on their own than the typical college student. Moving in/out, dealing with car issues, making sure their taxes get done, and deciding where to go on long weekends. Yes, there are plenty of family and friends who have been so generous to help with many things. And I am so thankful. But that does not remove the sadness.
Speaking of sadness, I found a bargain in my list of suggested books from Amazon a few weeks ago. The reviews all said it was a must read for pastors and counselors. A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser. I bought it. Who can resist a “must-read” at a bargain price? There’s a catch though, the subtitle reads, “How the soul grows through loss.” After reading a few chapters, I began to worry. Did God direct me toward this book because he knows something I don’t? Is there a big loss in my future for which he is preparing me? I posed the question to Brian, “Why do you think God has me reading a book about grief?” His quick response was, “Because you are grieving, Charity.” Really? Nobody has died recently. Yes, but….there’s been a loss, well, a lot of loss. Not as big as death, but many smaller losses: my culture, my youth, my role. And yes, my nearness to my oldest children.
Do not think, however, that just because there has been loss, that life is miserable. Do I believe that God has lead me to this place? Absolutely. Would I agree that the losses have been worth the gain? To answer this, I must ask what is the gain? You can look at the joy of these two little babies, you can see the new friendships, you can measure the growth in my faith, you can see the new opportunities on the horizon. But I am lead to the verse: “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake… you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Mark 8)
So the truth is, I want to give it all up. Yes, all of it, my youthful appearance, my comfort, my closeness to my family and friends, my entire life. For God. He gives and gives. His love is abundant, and he gives life everlasting. This reminds me of another quote (adapted for the situation), “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather skid in sideways, …body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!” THAT’S IT! I want to push this life to the max, give it all to him, the gains, the losses and everything in between. My dad often quoted this verse from James, “Life is but a vapor.” Which is true. This life is oh, so fleeting. But there’s eternity on the other side. Since I’ve accepted God’s great love given to me through Jesus, I want to please him with my life. And I want the same for my children.
I thought it sort of ironic that also this morning on the facebook scroll was this quote, “It’s not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” (Ann Landers) So, I pray that I have taught you well, Big Boys. I pray that God will fill in the holes. And I hope you remember the most important thing: “Love God and accept His love and relationship through Jesus.”