Ask RC: What makes you proudest of your children?
My son Reilly, 8, plays in little league. He drove a ball into the outfield last week. But what delighted me most was when he, playing third base, congratulated an opponent for knocking a ball into the outfield. In like manner I’ve been to Maili’s recitals and come away impressed. Erin Claire has her mom’s flair for crafts and for cleaning. Delaney has an obvious aptitude for photography. Campbell is both a great athlete and student. Darby has been blessed with both my strengths and those of her mother. And Donovan, soon to be 4, is just too cute for words.
Because those in the world are so quick to live vicariously through their children, to catalog their successes in conversation and on social media, we Christians are tempted to follow suit. We want to show the world that our following in the pathway of Christ doesn’t make us losers, but that in fact we are empowered for even greater successes. We Christians herald our outspoken athletes and our teenage pop stars and in turn highlight whatever headlines our own children garner.
Our standards, however, ought to be different. Our faith isn’t a better path to a better life, as the world defines it. It is instead a different path, a different life, and a different understanding of what we mean by better. We cherish academic success, but smart, I’m sorry to report, is not listed among the fruit of the Spirit. Neither is pretty, wealthy, athletic, musical. There is nothing wrong with those things, nothing wrong with excelling in those things. They are not, however, the goal. They are not the measure of success for those called to pick up their cross and follow Him.
Which brings me to my children. What I am most proud of in them is how lovingly they treat the “least of these.” I am proud of my children because they diligently serve the weak, the endangered, the neglected, the fragile. Such may be the fruit of having one so weak in their own family. Our Shannon required a great deal of care and time. She not only had to be fed, but special meals had to be prepared for her. She could not use the bathroom, nor could she give herself a bath. Wherever she went she had to be helped, carried, pushed, and with her went assorted tools for her care which likewise had to be carried. Never, in her entire fifteen years, did I hear my children complain about Shannon’s care. Better still, all of them, took pleasure in meeting her needs. Even Donovan, as a toddler, when Shannon was in her special chair, her feeding tube connected to a pump, would gladly retrieve her dropped toys. Reilly would cheerfully give up his balloons, because they meant so much to her.
My children are sinners. They caught the disease from their dad. But by His grace, they are sinners who have been blessed with compassion and diligence. For that, I give thanks. For that, I am proud.