Raising children is one of the most stretching seasons of life that one can imagine. Amy and I are blessed with two incredible kids, and I know that every parent out there believes their children are the best... but I gently proclaim that all of you are dead wrong. We happen to have the best, and we will ask them in a few years when they are grown whom they believe should carry the “Best Children” torch among that generation coming up behind them. Until that day arrives, cultivate a grateful heart that your children are wonderful, gifted, hilarious, insightful, and beautiful – they are all those things but they cannot be the best, because my kids own that title. It’s okay. You can carry on.
Having said all of that I need to relay the moment when we knew that we had an interesting individual living in our home in the person of Landon, our son who is now a fifth grader. The little fellow has always been precious to us and, after we were gravely concerned for his health when he was about three months old, and began to experience inexplicable seizure like activity, we realized afresh what a gift the boy was to us. Amy spent the better part of a week by his crib-side in the neurological section of a local children’s hospital while a team of medical personnel evaluated him for several days. EKG’s, EEG’s, spinal taps, bloodwork and just about anything else that a 3-month old can endure took place. Eventually they released him back to us with little more than an educated guess about his diagnosis and no further treatment prescribed. We took the boy home and soaked him in prayer accompanied at times with fasting, and did as all Christian parents of afflicted children do: we waited to see how God might move. Interestingly, there was no documented healing moment that we could discern. No flurry of angelic activity accompanied Landon’s transition from undiagnosed seizure activity to a perfectly sound and healthy little boy. It would seem that God simply migrated whatever the issue was out of him, and we never again had to experience the awful sight of watching our tiny boy seize up with his eyes rolled back. It simply went away.
So here is the moment when it dawned on us that our son was, well, we might say…unique: several years later when he was around five years old we let him stay with some family friends while Amy and I enjoyed a date night. Saturday morning came around and Amy went to go pick him up. She rang the front doorbell and was welcomed into the house as our friend said to Amy, “Landon’s in the kitchen.” Amy rounded the corner to behold the vision that is still etched upon her brain: Landon was seated stark naked at their kitchen table with only a bright red fireman’s hat upon his head eating spaghetti off of a plate at 10:30 in the morning. Sensing nothing at all awkward about the moment, he says to her, “Hey, mommy.” It was at that moment that we realized that the mold of normalcy would be broken for the child, and that life with him would be very interesting. Yes, the best of the best can sometimes be found eating pasta in the nude while proudly donning the headwear of heroic men called to rescue others from the flames. I love that little fellow.
My point today is not a deep one. All parents see something very special in their children – that is, if those parents are looking for it. Your child may not be athletic or possessing a heightened academic intelligence. Not every child has stunning facial features or graceful balance. Your child might be shy and hesitant while you expected one who would be bold and confident. Your child may have what others call a handicap or disability. Here’s one thing that I know about all of our children: they are expressions of a glorious God who fashioned them in the exact manner He intended. He made them for the fame of His name and each parent is entrusted with the unspeakable privilege of cultivating that child for God’s intended purpose. Our children came with a reason and we are called to spend years helping them discover that reason and, just about the moment it becomes clear to them, we are called to turn them loose to learn to fly. I am realizing how quickly the years are passing so I write today in hope that I will regularly recall that the little girl and boy given to Amy and me are quickly moving into new stages of their journey. They aren’t so little anymore. God superintends this necessary and healthy process and invites us, as parents, to participate. I am unsure that any greater gift could be given a mom or dad. Your kids don’t need to understand all of this but it is really important that we do. Go home and love on that little soul that God has given you. Fertilize their hearts. Breathe something good into their growing spirits. Let them know that they have a reason.
Don’t worry about what others might think about your kids; let them eat spaghetti in the nude with their fireman’s hat if that seems like a good idea to them. You will be making memories which will stay with you forever.