Okay, you aren’t going to get everything I’ve learned during that time, but I have learned a lot. About God.
Today is Andrew’s 21st birthday. He and I celebrated at lunch today (with a free burger and a free ice cream sundae at Red Robin). I told him, as I told the rest of the world over at GNMParents.com today, that when he was born, I wasn’t too sure about having a son.
I’m over that now and am incredibly grateful for Andrew (and Hope and Nancy).
One of the things that being a dad has taught me is about God. I mean, there is this biblical image of Father. And so it is possible that as I have learned about being a dad, I have learned something about how a heavenly father might look at us. (In fact, Jesus does draw this very comparison).
1. I can always love and still have to direct and discipline. I have never not loved Andrew. Never. However, in the middle of that love there have been times that I have said no, times that I have spanked, (one time that I slapped myself to take his punishment on myself (but relax, I never would have slapped him)), times I have not given permission to go where he wanted to go or to do what he wanted to do.
2. A smile from our kids delights my heart. It happened again today. Andrew grinned at me and my heart melted. I knew that he was relaxed and just enjoying something that I had done. I didn’t need some big speech about his undying gratefulness. I would have been offended if he assumed that he needed to do something for me to make up for my action to him. I just want him to have joy in my presence.
3. Different ages have brought different expectations. I haven’t always expected the same things from Andrew. And as he has grown and can understand more, I have trusted him with more knowledge about what I’m doing and planning. Of course, there has also been more responsibility.
4. I love lots of people, but I don’t always answer the phone or the door or my schedule for other people.
5. When Andrew asks me for help, I mean actually needs me and acknowledges that need, I pay attention.
6. When Andrew asks me to help someone else, or help him help someone else, I do my very best to help, and to help him learn how to help.
7. When Andrew tries to talk to me and is exhausted or hungry or sick, I don’t expect much. I just do what I can to help him feel better.
8. If he needs to make changes in his life so that he can avoid being exhausted or hungry or sick, I remind him of those changes.
Am I done learning? Not at all. It will take me the rest of my life to understand how to live these things out.
But in the meantime, I’ve the smile from this kid to cheer me on.