Psalm 20:1-3 (NIV)My sister came home Wednesday for a long wedding, punctuated tomorrow with a friend’s wedding, but also conveniently timed for our annual joint birthday celebrations in early August. We’ve had some good family time already, lunch and dinner together Thursday and the boys came to work with me to hang out with their aunt and uncle this morning. After church, Sunday is shaping up to be another day of hanging around my parents’ house doing whatever it is the kids want to do for fun. And also food. And especially dessert.
May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.
I tend to think about family a lot — big surprise from the guy who writes about parenting every night — but it’s mostly about me and my kids and less often me as a kid. But having sister bear back under our parents’ roof for a few nights naturally shifts the focus a bit, and so here we are. I’m about to be 34 years old, about to have my fourth son, and some days it’s still just nice to feel like my parents’ child.
On first reading of these verses from Psalm 20, I consider myself as it relates to God, though I know my sacrifices will never match up to what God has done for me. But on the second reading, the tables turn a bit in my mind and I think about my parents. Do I remember all the sacrifices they made on my behalf? Heck, are us three kids even aware of all the things they did and continue to do for us?
The natural progression is to consider my own kids. Surely I am sacrificing for them — at least I like to think I am. Are they going to know or understand what my wife and I have done on their behalf, in the name of our family? Am I giving my kids at least as much as my parents gave to me?
Obviously it’s more important that I do enough than it is I be noticed for what I do. However, I want to make sure my kids are aware of the work it takes to be a good parent so they might one day be able to give of themselves to their kids. And I suppose one of the best ways I can accomplish the dual goals of appreciating my parents and modeling for my kids is to take time to tell the little ones how hard their grandparents worked to raise me and their aunt and uncle. Maybe they’ll be able to see the love they’re surrounded with is in no way accidental.
I’m not going to go deep into detail about my childhood at this point, especially if I want to get this posted before midnight. But I will most certainly say a public thank you to my mom and dad for making sure were knew we were loved and for letting us know our role in the family was important, that we mattered. That’s why it’s still so much fun to get together as a whole, because we always feel like we have a place we belong. That’s what I’m trying to build for my boys, and I hope it’s working.
A prayer for August 2:
Lord, thank you for the blessing of a few days to simply enjoy the continued development of my longest-standing relationships. Thank you for the way my birth family has opened wide to welcome my wife and our children. Help me, as I spend so much time focusing on trying to be a good dad, to remember my obligations to be a good son as well. Don’t let me forget I’m always setting an example for my kids, and give me the focus I need to make sure it’s always an example worthy of you. Amen.