As my son and I sat at the beach on a cool fall evening, listening to waves, and seeing how far the moon's light could stretch, I couldn't help but ponder change. You see this was the weekend before our move and I had a chance to go on a camping trip with my son and some other friends. There were a lot of things on my mind, but none more than my wife and 4 children.
Each of them (as I) had a different perspective on the move, and positive or negative, it was surrounding how as individuals or as a family unit we would adjust to the change. Needless to say it was the hardest on my teenage daughter, and easiest on our 4 month old (I know you must be surprised)! Change has a way of bringing out some emotions that otherwise may not have been surfaced.
For me, the weight of my struggle as a father raising my family in a very uncomfortable environment began to shed as the move came to a close. So much of my strength (from Him) was being used to protect my family from external environments outside my control. Yet as I breath a sigh of relief, change for others isn't as easy.
My oldest daughter, while overall positive, struggles with the social changes that brings her farther away from friends. None of this comes as a surprise to me, yet as I think about these struggles with her I see even light in this difficult change. Growth is often uncomfortable, and while I don't willingly expose my children to random uncomfortable situations, I think it's times like these that help an individual to grow. It teaches us to lean not on ourselves and our own understanding, but on Him and His.
When I look back on my journey as a Christian man, father, and child, it's those times in the fire when I was being refined that I am thankful for the most. Unfortunately when you're in that valley it's hard to raise your hand and express your thankfulness; it's only after the scraping off of those unrefined elements that we stand back and see the finished product. So while I am thankful for the end product, I am reminded that a fire was still involved.
It helps me as a father keep perspective with my children. I am learning not to be overly critical (being sensitive to the fact that they may be in a fire), but also at the same time not to shelter them and fear them entering the fire themselves. If it is my desire for my children to become more like Christ (and it is), then why would I want to steer them away from a situation that would cause growth? It reminds me of a quote:
"Isn’t it ironic that we often pray for God to make us Christlike, but the moment God allows something into our lives that would answer this prayer, we immediately send out a fervent prayer request to all our friends to have that circumstance removed?" - Henry BlackabyWe must shed in order to grow. My prayer is that I will model that to my children when I go through times of difficulty as well. May I give guidance and correction as a father in peaceful love and not model anxiety and frustration.
"And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?" - (Luke 12:25 ESV)