“Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:3-5 (NIV)
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As my heritage and reward from the Lord, my son Nathan is much taller than I am, ‘mouthier’ than I am, and braver than I am. He is loving and kind though opinionated and stubborn. He stands up for those less fortunate as I do and tries to understand the ‘other point of view’ even when it’s a struggle. More importantly and above all, he is blessed and touched by God, and for this I am thankful.
My son wasn’t really born in my ‘youth’. I was already 32 years old and most of my friends’ children were at least 10 years old if not older. This meant that when my girlfriends were going out because their children were old enough to fend for themselves, I was still at home with Nathan who was much younger. Fast track from 1997 to today: the child towers above me, is a licensed driver, soon to be a globally accredited fitness personal trainer and appears not to need me other than for necessities such as a constant supply of food, clothing, technology and/or money (not necessarily in that order).
Having children changes you in a fundamental way. Nathan had many asthma attacks when he was younger – and it was terrifying. He was hospitalised twice – and I thought I was going to go crazy with worry. He had ‘best-friend’ issues where he was ostracised at school for not ‘following the leader’ – and I cried because he was crying as he told me the story BUT I was proud because he had done the right thing and NOT followed the leader. He had stitches across his nose bridge from a cut which barely missed one of his eyes – and my heart came up out of my chest when I saw the open wound.
Yes, he challenges my authority but what child doesn’t? Yes, he never believes the ‘stove is hot’ unless he touches it himself but this is how he learns. Yes, he believes I am old and as a result know nothing about the realities of life but he is a teenager who thinks he knows everything. Does he love me? Yes. Does he tell me? Of course not! Can I hug him in public? Double certainly not! Is he perfect? No … but then again neither am I.
The main reason for this post however is to simply let you know how very proud I am of Nates! After months of intense physical and mental training his hard work is paying off; he finally has his judo gold medals in hand. But even though this is a great achievement I am impressed with the man he is becoming: a seeker of the truth, a champion of the underdog, a leader willing to stand up for what is right even if it means losing a so-called friend, a negotiator of great persuasive power (including the spouting of supporting ‘sound’ opinions in spite of alternative arguments from a proven source aka parents), a dedicated sportsman, a loyal friend.
Parenting can be really really hard. I don’t know how Mary managed not to worry about Jesus as He continuously exposed Himself to so much danger … willingly. So many people were out to get Him yet He healed the sick and ministered to sinners anyway. How do you stand by and watch your son being crucified? How do you bury Him? How do you go on after He has been buried and is with you no more?
So yes, parenting is not easy but I’ve learnt we should never give up on your children. We only have roughly 12 to 15 years (my estimation) to truly train them in the way they should go but the supreme effort is totally worth the sacrifice if you remember they are indeed a wonderful and precious gift from God.
Today I am wishing my son a happy birthday as he turns 18, that age where the date on paper says he is an adult but the beat of my heart has him somewhere between teenage-hood and full maturity. He’s just my man-child really, forever stretching towards the stars as he follows his dream of becoming an Olympic Judoka and physical therapist. And although I know he knows I have no idea how to handle a bow, I do know that the arrow in my quiver is definitely a sure shot!
Now it’s your turn
Do you have children too? Any of them teenagers? Do you consider yourself a warrior? How would you rate your parenting skills on a scale of 1 – 10 (especially since there is no true parenting manual out there)? Share and let us know … because we’re all in this together 🙂
PS: Click here for more Nathan photos 🙂
- My Prayer
Dear God, help me to lead by example. Help me to teach my son what is right and what is wrong, and give me the strength (and hardening of heart) to discipline him when and as needed. Help me to remember that you suffer all little children to come unto you, and that just as you love me unconditionally so do you love and bless those for whom you have made me accountable. Amen.
Verses for Reflection
“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.” John 16:21
“Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.” Proverbs 29:17
“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.” Proverbs 23:13-14