Wednesday, August 21, 2013

We Have to Lead

When my oldest son was a toddler we ended each fun filled day with a prayer. He would stand in his crib, tiny hands clasped together, and repeat after me.

"God bless Daddy".... "Daaadddy!"  "God bless Mommy"... "Mommmmy!"  "God bless your teachers at school"... "Teachers!"..... and so on. We moved from blessing our family and friends to praying for more specific reasons as our young son grew. It was nice, really, to end each day with a thank you and a prayer.

And then we brought our new son into our lives, and we ended each day with a glass of wine. And, frequently, a few tears. And don't get me wrong, there were plenty of prayers. But our family prayer time fell off the radar screen as we struggled with every.little.thing. with our new son.

Fast forward to this summer, the summer of the "gimmies". Even though our oldest son attends a Christian school and regularly attends church, he is still, after all, a six year old. And six year olds have an inward focus and an ability to compare themselves to others. Never mind that the "others" they are comparing themselves to might be characters on TV, with toys and fun unobtainable to most families. Never mind that my son wants for nothing. He still wants for everything, know what I mean?

It was time to bring the focus, all of our focus, back to others. Away from ourselves. I was guilty of it also. I have spent the past two years looking inward as well. Over these past few years I have friends who have suffered marriage loss, death, and ill parents. I have friends who have lost children, either through pregnancy loss or an  interrupted adoption. I have friends who have had illnesses and surgeries, job losses, career confusion. I have immediate family members who did not receive my best. And how can I expect any more from my young son than I am willing to give myself? Clearly, a change was needed.

A few days ago we all gathered on our bed- both boys, my husband and myself. We turned off the TV, put away the phones, walked away from the toys and spent some quiet time upstairs, hanging out and playing Uno. After our games were done but right before we shuffled the youngest off to bed, I sent my super six year old out into the hallway to check the new "prayer board" I had hung on the wall just outside our bedroom door. He stood in the hallway and read off the prayers tacked to the board.

New school year
All of our teachers- first grade, preschool, daycare, china school
Alex's progress in therapy

Three prayers. We sat together on the bed and prayed, as a family, the prayers listed on our board. The persevering preschooler didn't make it through them all and wandered off, but he was there at the beginning, and it was a start. A move in the right direction. If we don't lead them, if we don't step out of our comfort zone as parents, they will not just magically "get it" one day.

The next day my super six year old asked me for a piece of paper and a thumb tack. When I asked why his answer shocked me. "Remember that kid at daycare who is always standing by the door, crying for his mommy? I want to add him to our prayer board."  He took the paper, asked me how to spell the boy's name and carefully printed it out. he stretched up to the board and pushed the pin into the paper, securing his prayer in place.

"When did you think of adding him to our board?", I asked. "Yesterday. I saw him hugging the door like he does and thought that we should pray for him. You know, he isn't like me. He doesn't think like me. I thought he would feel better if we prayed for him."

We have to lead. It does not come easy for me, these open displays of faith. But we have to lead, because they are watching.

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