I’d Better Be Careful
That I don’t slip into one more of your little tragedies.
‘Cause that would be no good for me right now.
I’m lost. Josh’s family is confusing sometimes. I’ve gotten what I think is a mere glimpse of what it means to be “put in the middle” and feel like that’s something I can do without in life. I’m really not interested in taking sides. Who would benefit from that?
This kind of thing, along with conversations I’ve had with some of my net friends especially, just slap me in the face with how sheltered I’ve been all my life from family drama and turmoil. Things haven’t been perfect all the time, but compared to the stories, they barely appear on the radar. I think of Esther’s situation, probably the most appalling instance, the “we, your parents, are going to shun you; yes, literally Old Testament shun you because you married a Protestant and not a Catholic.” I can hardly comprehend it.
I wonder sometimes at this apparent dice-toss that is life. Why have I been spared? It seems like I must come to the same conclusion over and over again and yet still largely ignore it: I’ve been given a lot, so I must give a lot. And I know I’m not giving back what I should be, but feel like I’m making a bare start with the girls now, a full year after joining youth ministry. Oh God, please let me be the listening ear they need so desperately. But it’s so hard to listen to the pain they deal with and not be able to fix it for them, especially when I’m in territory so uncharted to me. Saying that I know how they feel would be a complete lie. Listening literally is all I can do right now.
They don’t need or want advice from me, and good thing, too, because I doubt I’d be of any help. My “dealing with parents” model is based on my parents: mature adults who were always willing to discuss things and hear my side of the story. The kind of people who should be parents. From what I’ve heard, their parents are acting like children, and I have no idea how to deal with that.
In that vein, I’ve been thinking about motives lately. It seems like almost everything we do is towards a purpose. We go to work to get money. We seek romantic relationships for companionship and love. We volunteer to help others, or to get a good feeling of contributing. All these things have a pretty clear “why” attached to then. But I was thinking, if you asked some parents why they had kids, what would they say? Having children seems to me to be something of a mystery as far as conscious goals are concerned. Because really, the continuation of the human race really isn’t an issue. People can’t blame imminent extinction as their reason for procreating. So what is it?
I guess there’s always the, “I’ve just always wanted kids,” or the “I wanted to experience being a parent”, but even then, why? Is it a lack of goals that causes parents to fail at times in raising their children? Since they’re doing it day by day “just because”?
I do want kids. I’ve realized that I have a goal for that endeavour now… I want to raise children who will grow up to help the world, to be a positive influence. Imagine if every parent had that goal in the forefront of their mind at all times when interacting with their child. Would this world be different?
I remember a scene from the movie “The World according to Garp” where Garp is visiting a house he is considering buying. Just then a small plane loses control and crashes into the second story window. His wife is appaled but he yells: “We’ll buy it!”. His wife looks at him in disbelief and asks why? He says: “Don’t you see? It’s pre-disastered!”. Meaning, what more could ever happen here to top this.
I feel a bit the same way about my own life after having lost my father at the age of eleven. After that I’ve always had a bit of the pre-disastered feeling that made it easy not to sweat the small stuff.
At the same time, I do feel that our family has been spared the more traumatic events that can befall anyone: death, serious illnesses, major accidents, job troubles. Maybe someone in our ancestry was such a good servant that God blessed him and his descendants:
“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Isaiah 43:3
That’s a possibility I hadn’t really thought about before 😉
My continuation into adulthood hasn’t really reduced the amount of immaturity I see from any age, which saddens me somewhat.
But in some ways, I understand it. We aren’t necessarily any less insecure as adults than we are as children- the issues just get bigger and broader. Approaching things openly and honestly can be a very scary thing to do, especially when parents are in a position of authority- vulnerability can seem to weaken that authority.
There will be situations that call for a parent putting the foot down and establishing a boundary- kids won’t usually take that well. It’s hard to know what the issue really is without being in the middle of it, and even then, we don’t have the history and perspective. Very, very tricky stuff.
Much as we don’t always think of our bigger goals in smaller day-to-day things (let’s buy this instead of putting money away!), I imagine parents don’t always have the bigger picture in mind when they’re involved in doing things with their children. And that’s just normal- in the heat of the moment, we don’t always have the benefit of a broader perspective.