I can understand the yearning for liberty that occupies a man’s mind. Home life can seem like chains, escape is surely the path to liberation. Independence offers a path to happiness, success and fun.
As sons grow older parenting becomes more of a spectator sport. Your offspring are in the sporting arena of life and you hope to see them playing a fair game with honour and dignity. You want wisdom to prevail, an occasional look to you for encouragement, and a passion for service. If the game plan looks to be failing we hope for break in play for a chance to consider where the opposition is gaining an upper hand and agree a strategy for success.
The point is that you have to stay in the game to win the game. Abandon the team, the arena, the coach and the resources are lost. The rewards of staying the full course always out last the temporal relief that comes through quitting. It never takes long to realize the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence but greener where you water it.
All my blogs are about the condition of the heart. If your heart’s not in the game then how can you enjoy it? Each step of the way effects the outcome. It’s your hopes and dreams that fuel your choices. Our imaginations are vital. We need to build a picture of how it looks to be destitute, in debt and poor housing, with little hope for our children and also a picture of how it would look to be in loving relationships, able to put food on the table for our kids and a roof over our families head. These things come through work, perseverence and discipline. Remembering, that love is an action and a commitment before it’s a feeling.
Defeat is the destiny for those who don’t seek a change of heart, who don’t adopt the mindset, disciplines and habits that will keep them in the game. The game is tough and there are all kinds of attractive paths outside the arena. The urge to escape is tough to resist and many have tried only to realize that it’s an illusion. When parents know that path, have experienced its perils and know the pain and heartache which it leads to, it’s tough to witness your child, or anyone else you love, heading in its direction.
I have known men who have caused their parents trials and men who have brought their parents joy. There is no script. Rebellion, selfishness and idleness is not a rite of passage, there are choices. However, there is no breaking through to a hardened heart without outside intervention. We just have to hope and pray that the intervention, when it comes, does not have to be too severe. The Bible says that a troublesome wife is like a dripping tap and it’s better for a man to live on the roof than in the house with her. But you try persuading a single man, especially one who has yet to reach two score years, that learning to love his wife well starts today, before he may have even met her. It’s hard.
The dads in these pictures will face joy and grief in unequal measures. If sons are to be loving, noble and serve well, they need to see dads modeling that same behaviour. It’s my hope and prayer that all us dads can model good husbands and fathers and when we fail, as we all regularly do, we can display the humility to admit our shortcomings, seek forgiveness and pursue reconciliation.
Our offspring can bring out the best and worst in us. We reap what we sow and they provide a window into our parenting skills. Sometimes embracing the teaching moments when they come can be a real challenge, but then they wouldn’t be teaching moments would they? So deep breath, ask for patience and forbearance and enjoy the game! Happy days.