I’m not one of those parents. I don’t operate under the illusion that my children should be inducted into Mensa, I’m not carrying around in my wallet a scribble by my daughter just so I can pull it out and tell everyone how she started naturally drawing ancient Minoan hieroglyphs at the age of 3.
My kids are great, don’t get me wrong, and I’m blown away at the wisdom that tends to come from their curious minds.
However, the greatest lessons I’ve learned, from my children, haven’t come from our conversations or their off the wall questions. Instead, they’ve come from the experience of having other lives that count on me to survive.
While I could probably write an endless list of “lessons” I’ve learned and continue to learn every day, the following are the 3 biggest, mind blowing things that my kids have taught me:
1. WHAT IT MEANS TO BE CALLED DADDY
There is nothing quite like hearing the joyful squeals of my children when I walk through the door, from the office, to come home for the day. I’m welcomed with hugs and kisses and stories, it’s wonderful. Nothing, however, is as heart warming as hearing my children call me “Daddy.”
I am their daddy. This is a relationship that I share with 4 adorably twisted little people. I alone belong to them in this way, and they to me. It’s a unique relationship.
It’s also a unique responsibility. My children watch me. They listen to me. They observe who I am and drink in every response, every reaction, every instigation from every moment of every day. I am shaping my children into the adults that they will become.
I provide for them. Food, clothes, transportation . . . all of these things come from me (and my wife, of course). There’s more, however. I also provide love, acceptance, morality, discipline, work ethic and worldview. It’s a daunting task.
Who I am will define who they will become because their identity is wrapped up in mine. They are my children, they bear my name (till that fateful day for my little girls), and they effect my reputation.
Understanding this transforms my love for a God who created me, saved me and relates to me as my Father in Heaven.
God is my “daddy” and that changes just about everything.
2. WHY QUIET IS NOT A GOOD THING
Our house is noisy (and no it’s not because I live there). A dear friend of mine, who was eating with us in our home recently, loving described the voluminous noise in our home of screaming and crying children as “the sound of life.” That got me thinking . . . life is noise.
I love the noise. Even when it’s a crying baby, noise in the house informs me where the children are and what they are doing. If I hear angry yelling, I know my daughter is about to karate chop my son. If I hear squeaks and laughter I know that everything is good in the Carpenter household. If I hear a lot of whining I know it’s time for a snack or a nap. I love the noise.
The scariest thing, any parent will tell you, is when everything is quiet.
Quiet is a parents warning bell, especially when it last for more than 5 minutes.
The same is true for adults. The less “noise” there is between me and my friends and church family the more likely it is that someone is hurting or upset. The less “noise” we make the less people know who we really are and what we are really going through.
We were created to make noise. Noise to God in worship and prayer, noise to one another in loving affirmation, correction, reproof or instruction, noise to the world about the good news of Jesus Christ.
Quiet is not a good thing, and yet that is how most of us “do” community. We keep quiet about our struggles, we keep quiet about our sin and we keep quiet about our concerns. Quiet is not a good thing.
Make some noise!
3. HOW LITTLE I AM ACTUALLY IN CONTROL
My oldest daughter likes to jump off the steps in our home, into my arms, to get down the stairs. My son likes to imitate my daughter. (You probably see where I’m going with this)
One day, while I was at work, my daughter was getting ready to come downstairs from her bedroom. She went about 3 steps down when my son ran off the top step of the stairs, arms outstretched, and half jumped, half flopped towards my daughter, assuming that she was going to catch him. Fortunately no one got seriously injured.
As my wife recounted the details of this little adventure to me over the phone I felt the wind go out of my lungs, my stomach wrenching and my heart stopping. I could visualize the whole thing in my head and every ending I concocted was bloody.
It was the longest 2 seconds of my life before my wife concluded with, “it’s alright, they are both fine.”
It’s moments like these that remind me, I’m not really in control. I’d go into further detail on the nuances of this truth, but I simply cannot explain it as well as the worlds oldest animated turtle.
Children are a great reminder of how little control I truly have. I can’t protect them from every little thing, I can’t keep them from having a broken heart and I can’t make them have a true relationship with Jesus. That terrifies me and that’s a good thing.
When I live in self-confidence and believe myself to be self-sufficient and in control I tend to not pray. When I feel as if I have all the answers I tend to not search the Word of God.
The truth is, I don’t want to be in control. It would be detrimental to the health and welfare of my family and it would be devastating for me. God is in control and I am thankful. God is good, righteous and loving. God is all knowing, unlimited by time and always present.
I’m not in control. I never was. So why do I get so upset when I feel like I’ve lost something that I never had in the first place.
God is in control. Best lesson ever.