Friday, May 28, 2010

The Desire for Pain

Is it weird for me, as a father of 2 sons, to want my sons to experience pain, suffering, a broken heart, hard times, (input your own word here?  I was sitting down at the dinner table tonight, alone because I wasn't hungry when the rest of the family ate, and I was watching my 5-year old playing with his cars on the couch.  Over there was my wife working diligently on the computer to find a good deal on a pair of shoes for our son's awkward feet.  And I just started thinking, I wish I could take my son's foot pains away so that he could walk around school all day long and never have to wake up in the middle of the night again crying in pain.

I was also thinking about how I don't stop my almost 1-year old from climbing on the toys only to hope that when he falls, he will experience the pain of falling (of course watching with a close eye so he doesn't crack his head open on the furniture).  I want him to know the pain of falling so he can learn to think before he does it the 10th time (kids hardly ever learn the first time).  Then I pulled out the crystal ball I have stashed in the pantry for times when I want to know what their lives will end up like, and I started to imagine them as teenagers: girls, schoolwork, friends, peer pressure, (input your own word here too).  And then I realized, I will never, ever be their savior, nor will I ever try. 

Sometimes I feel as though I am being callous towards my kids when I want them to experience pain, but deep within my heart, I don't ever want them to feel the pains I had to endure in my life, however miniscule or different from mine they may be.  What I want them to learn is how to cope, how to deal with the realities of life without breaking down.  That's why we try to teach them, through the repeated tantrums and wailings on the floor, that life is not getting what you want all the time.  They need to experience the pain of losing something or not gaining something they want, so they can cope in the future when the inevitable will happen.

Christ is the same way with us.  He never wants us to experience pain, especially the pain He watched as His own son was tortured, dragged through the streets, beaten, stabbed with spikes and a spear, and then ultimately left to die on a couple beams of wood: FOR US.  I imagine in my finite mind that God, as He watched these things happen to Jesus that day, turned away and wept.  Yet, he remained strong, and steadfast in support of His own son experiencing that pain knowing in the long run, the result would be the salvation of those who would accept and follow Him. 

I don't want to shield my children from pain and suffering.  I don't want to save them from every bad decision they make.  I don't want to keep them from making bad, and good, decisions.  I don't want to be in the way of the life lesson they will learn from the pain they experience.  I WANT to help them endure it, recover from it, and grow from it.  I don't want to stop it from happening.

Disclaimer:  there are going to be times, for their safety, and possibly sanity, that intervention may be required, don't get me wrong here.

Lord keep me strong,

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Good Defense

".....'We don't know who opened his eyes.  Ask him.  He is old enough to speak for himself.'  His parents said this because they were afraid of the elders, who had already decided that anyone who said Jesus was the Christ would be avoided.........."  John 9:21-22

A good defense is not always a good offense.  Jesus has just healed the blind man with spit and dirt.  The man is brought before the Pharisees and grilled over what happened.  They still won't believe the him, so they take formerly blind man to his parents to verify that he was blind from birth.  But something funny happens.  They verify his blindness yet deny the One who healed him, knowing full well Jesus Chist had healed their son. 

I can still remember times in the military when it was prudent for me to remain silent about my faith so as not to be "avoided" by the "elders."  It was a regulation not to be open about your faith.  I have become much more vocal in work environments about my faith, still with the fear of being "avoided."  Frankly, I don't care if I don't get invited to happy hour after work.  Acceptance, or better yet, lack there of, can be paralyzing to someone of my people-pleasing nature.  But I have turned a corner in my life.  People to please no longer fully fuel who I am.  (Notice I said fully-it's a hard habit to break). They can't, unless I want to live my life for them and not for a God who gave His only son on a cross for my forgiveness.

Do I still hesitate to talk about my faith sometimes?  Absolutely, out of fear, which breeds and fuels a lack of that same faith I claim to have.  It's hard to be open.  But, it will be a lot harder to close my soul when Christ bears it on the day I stand before Him.

What will we do when the guys in the office are talking about what they would like to do with the cute girl in cubicle 2, and then turn and ask us our opinion?  What will we do when the girls at the gym are bashing our faith because of the "money hungry" pastor with his limo and multi-million dollar house?  What will we do when the boss says that you cannot, under any circumstance, talk about your faith in the workplace, yet makes off-handed remarks about churches in staff meetings?

What will we do?  Don't go on the defense.  Jesus didn't.  Why should we?