Every Wednesday, my husband takes my kids to breakfast before school. While they were waiting for their food last week, they started talking about what it means to be alive. Not just alive, but really living life.
My oldest son admitted that he feels like that sometimes… like he’s not really living
It made me sad to think that our 11-year-old already feels like this. It makes me wonder what sort of adult pressure we are putting on our kids. The week before Spring Break, I met with a group of parents to pray at the school. The prayers were loaded with heavy-hearted cries to God – for healing of sick relatives, divorces in the works, a couple kids who got in serious trouble at school, parents who don’t know how else to reach their lost kids, etc. I tell my kids some of these things, and then wonder if I have shared too much with them. They are so young, but they have so many questions, and they’re so curious about life and how it operates in the world in which they live.
Anywhere and everywhere, they hear about divorce and drugs and sex and violence, and it all seems too much for their little lives. I want them to be free of these worries, but Bret and I also want to be the ones to share the “big” things with them so they hear it first from us and not from their peers. Yet, I wonder if maybe we crowd so much “stuff” into their minds, all in the name of protecting them, that we push them into a corner, where they are afraid to really live.
Their dad has an illness that adds to this dynamic. He has to choose what he is going to do each day so he can have the energy to do what he needs to do, or wants to do. His body won’t allow him to ride bikes with the boys anymore, but if he conserves his energy, he can toss the football in the back yard or wrestle with them in the basement. He has told them that although he has limits, he doesn’t want to shut down and stop living. He wants to face his fears more each day so he can still find joy in the things he CAN do. In essence what he was telling the boys at breakfast was that even though he could choose to crawl under the covers, he wants to be a part of life, not just a spectator.
Interestingly enough, I found a Mother Theresa devotional book at the lending bookshelf in the pool shelter the other day. On March 31, the entry says:
Before God we are all poor. We are all handicapped in one way or another. Sometimes it can be seen on the outside, sometimes it is in the inside. The healthy person may be closer to dying or even more dead than the person who is dying. They might be spiritually dead, only it does not show.
When I read that, it reminded me of Bret’s conversation with the boys at breakfast. I wanted to call them over to me and read it to them. I wanted to remind my boys that although they may struggle with certain issues or worry about life sometimes, they are not dead. They have each made a decision to follow Jesus as best as they can. And because of that, they are truly alive.
I decided not to call them to me after all. They were too busy being alive… as they took turns doing front flips into the pool. I held my breath and tried to stay alive in the moment. The moment like many moments of parenting boys. The moment when I try not to squelch their act of living… even when it’s a bit dangerous.