I’ve just returned from an extended road trip, a portion of which included travel through ancestral homelands. While I was gone our son’s first child, Hunter, was born, making me mindful of the gift that our roots can offer to us as we venture through life. That juxtaposition inspires today’s Friday Five.
At a baby shower honoring Hunter guests filled out a card full of hopes and wishes for his life. Thinking about whatever new life may be touching yours (the birth of a child, a marriage, a new call…), choose five wishes from the following and do the same. (For instance, I wrote for Hunter, “I hope you laugh at your grandfather’s jokes.)
I hope you: learn, grow, remember, laugh, get, follow, aren’t afraid, love, respect, try to, never forget, become, experience.
Bonus: what hopes did someone in your life offer to you that have stayed with and inspired you?
I guess I'm writing this for my girls, since they're the closest thing to new life in our lives even if they are both in elementary school. This is more of a "things we're trying to instill as parents" than a wish list.
1. I hope you respect people for who they are: no more, no less. We have so many ways to overvalue and undervalue the people around us and the "movers and shakers" in the world. We can't escape the latest escapades of Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears, and we can't get the stories of good, faithful servants to the forefront for all the noise of the latest crisis. I hope my girls will learn to take people as they are, without paying attention to their riches, beauty, power, disability, or lack of these or any other characteristic. If God shows no partiality, neither should we.
2. I hope you grow in learning and intelligence your whole life through. Right now our eldest is becoming quite the bookworm, and I would be over the moon if she became a dedicated lifelong reader. Movies and television can certainly educate and inspire, but for my money they don't hold a candle to a good book.
3. I hope you become whatever God is calling you to be. Our lives are very busy - perhaps a bit too busy right now. Swimming lessons, Kindermusik, school, homework, church activities, Girl Scouts, time with friends: it all means we're usually pretty tired by the end of the day. But we really want our girls to have a wide variety of experiences in the hopes they'll discover their vocational gifts along the way. We don't really care what those gifts turn out to be: we just want our girls to have lifelong work that is personally rewarding and makes a contribution to the community in which they live. If they can do that behind the counter at the local McDonald's, then I'll be first in line to say "Hallelujah!"
4. I hope you love well. We haven't had many discussions about my first marriage yet, but as the girls get older it's bound to come up. I hope I can impress on my girls that no one wants a marriage to fail, but people make mistakes and learn from them. I hope they understand the relationship Beloved and I share didn't come from a vacuum: I'm a good husband today because I changed many of the things that made me a bad husband the first time round (and it's a never-ending process as well - I'm not always a good husband today, either). I hope my girls see in me a parent who's willing to listen and admit mistakes - including the many times we fail to be the person we want to be. Loving well doesn't mean being a doormat, but it does mean being unflinchingly honest about yourself and your partner. Accountability, respect, patience, forgiveness: these are things every good relationship needs in order to be a good-loving partnership.
5. I hope you remember to laugh. Beloved and I had a really rough patch about two years ago. Not between each other, but with our lives outside the marriage: job struggles, distance from family & friends, a long hard time for us both. But what we've always been able to do together is laugh: at ourselves, at the sublime foolishness life can be, at this world God loves so much for reasons we don't always understand. Laughter really is good medicine.
Bonus: I hope you respect women. This wasn't an overt wish, but rather one that has been developing my whole life through. I have been surrounded by strong women, good leaders, and have learned much from all of them. My mother is one of the most capable, intelligent people I know, and I'm proud to be her son. My wife is a great servant of the church who gets more done in less time than anyone I know. My first camp director, Sunni Richardson, ran an incredibly complicated program with grace and passion. I've had confirmation teachers, seminary professors, mentors in ministry and colleagues along the way who have taught me how wrong it is to think one's gender has anything to do with one's ability to do anything in the world. Tomorrow the church I am privileged to serve will install the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton as its presiding bishop. My girls will grow up in a church that is finally beginning to understand the gifts its women leaders have to offer, and I can only see good things coming as a result. Sometimes I laugh that the eldest of three sons who knew so little about women growing up has come to be the father of two girls with such passion & character - it's poetic justice and an great privilege all in one wonderful family package. But thanks to the many strong women in my life, I feel up to the opportunity. Thanks be to God!