I know it seems weird to be proud of my kid for graduating from “sideshow school” on Coney Island, but I AM proud of him. Not because I’m happy that he now knows how to “safely” stick a coat hanger down his throat (prep for sword swallowing), or because he can eat and breathe fire, or walk on broken glass. I’m proud of him because he set his mind on a goal and accomplished it. It’s not a goal I would have chosen for him, but that doesn’t make it less of an accomplishment.
Letting my children choose their own path has been, for me, the most difficult aspect of parenting. Surely breastfeeding, potty training, and teaching them to tie their own shoes qualifies me to direct their every choice for the rest of their lives, right? Um. Only if I’m raising clones, robots, or droids.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) God hasn’t gifted us with the nurture of a set of clones or droids… He blesses us with children, and children are unique.
Walking through the park that surrounds the St. Louis Arch I was struck by the startling differences in humans. For the most part, a deer is a deer. An elk is an elk. A mountain lion is a mountain lion. But humans come in every shape and size, every single one completely and entirely unique and individual. No other species can boast of that kind of individuality.
As parents of human children, that means we have a unique responsibility: to unearth the uniqueness and individuality of each of our progeny. Sometimes that discovery is compatible with our vision, and sometimes they (because they are individuals) go an entirely different direction.
The question for us, as parents, is this: Do you love them anyway?
I once worked for a woman (a pastor’s wife) whose son died from HIV-related complications. How did she deal with it, I asked her.
“You love your children, that’s what you do.”
It puts the whole “love the sinner, not the sin” thing into stark perspective. Do I love my children’s choices? No. Do I love my children? Absolutely. And don’t try to get between me and my cubs and threaten them… I’ll eat you.
I think God feels much the same way.
Be careful who you attack, who you condemn, who you reject… that’s God’s kid.