Ephesians 2:14-22 (NIV)One of the great things about having three boys — especially boys spread out yet born roughly the same time of the calendar year — is the ability to re-use old clothes over and again. We have a running joke about how bad the credit card bill might be if we ever have a girl… or perhaps it wouldn’t be bad at all if our extended family tripped over each other in their race to spoil a niece, granddaughter, etc.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Of course, boys being boys, not all articles of clothing survive to be worn by a younger brother. Shoes especially are a one-and-done proposition, especially since Jack and Max each just have one all-purpose pair of shoes. In fact, Jack tore through his last pair before he really grew out of it. So everyone always gets new shoes.
In a sense, nothing quite helps us mark the passage of time as putting away one size of clothes and reaching deep into the closet stacks to retrieve a favorite collection of outfits. Dressing Charlie in a pair of pajamas I remember picking out for Jack is for some reason very comforting to me. Of course, when I find myself putting Charlie (or Max, even) in certain Classic Jack outfits, I must confront the truth that all three kids are growing up, whether I like it or not.
With a few exceptions, I’m wearing the same stuff I did before we had kids. There are more high school- and college-era shirts in my dresser than probably ought to be. So while I’m cycling kids through all the 2T pajamas we own, my wardrobe never changes. And it strikes me that one day, we won’t have a baby around the house or one on the way. Clothes actually will be put away for the last time — or sold or donated or what have you.
There’s a chance that when that day comes, Kristie and I will look at each other and fully realize how different we are from the 23- and 24-year-olds who brought Jack home from the hospital. Looking at a familiar pair of pajamas I’d selected for Charlie the other night, shortly after they made it to his drawer for the first time, I told Kristie I understand why people keep having babies, implying that having a baby around helps the parents feel young, like they’re nowhere close to advancing beyond that stage in life.
Yet to view life through that narrow window is to do a great disservice to all your children, especially the ones at the other end of the age spectrum, wading their way through grade school while mom and dad are worrying about diapers and teething. Giving all the children equal attention is difficult now and will only grow more complex, I imagine, as their lives become more busy and less centered on what happens inside the walls of our home.
The needs of an infant are so obvious. They never hide beneath the surface, not even a smidgen. What an older child needs from his parents can be far more difficult to ascertain — especially because the child himself may not know. What I do know is that if our kids are going to be “built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit,” we as parents are going to have to fight to remain involved and aware and not just turn our attention to the eminently evident needs. After all, everyone needs food, shelter and safety. But the spiritual needs of our kids are going to vary wildly from boy to boy. It’s our job, with God’s help, to guide them well.
A prayer for May 19:
Lord, I thank you for your message of peace. Please help me to remember my connections with all your people as members of your household, just as our children are bound to us, their parents, and each other as siblings. May we strive to keep Jesus as the chief cornerstone of our family, and may each son rise to become a temple in you, a dwelling in which your spirit lives. In this way may they be a blessing to the family and specifically each other, yet also to all your people. Amen.