March 24, 2008

My son… My burden.

By andrewiverson

For myself, it’s been a long couple of months… Spiritually and mentally. I’m reading a book called ‘the shack’ and it’s really taking me to the depths in my own life that I’ve questioned and wanted answers for. Right now i’m in a place where i’m digging deep to truly understand my beliefs and what I truly, whole heartedly believe.  This doesn’t mean I doubt my faith but rather I want to go deeper into my faith and ask the hard questions that we normally tend to shy away from.  It doesn’t help that I have a 5 year old that provokes this issue….

Kyle just turned 5 and is getting older and wiser. He’s very sharp and doesn’t miss a thing. He hears everything and is already asking questions you’d think would come from a grown man. Life with a child from birth to 4 years old is hard and challenging. A child can take you to the woodshed at any given moment and you never know what part of your personality or character will be tested at any given moment. You strive as a man and father to discipline in the right way and protray to your children your words and actions to hopefully show them the right way of living and thinking. Although, right when you think you’ve got it right, they throw you a curve ball and it takes you off your feet and makes you wonder if they even get it or even listening.

You go to church every Sunday, you pray for them every night, you get them involved with their class on Sundays and during the week and cross your fingers that they will adapt your faith and truly understand who God is and what Jesus did for them. Right now, Kyle is in a place where he’s truly making up his own mind and developing his own thoughts and feelings towards everything. Including church.

One Sunday we we’re getting ready to go to church and he throws a fit and says he doesn’t want to go. Kyle says he doesn’t like church, and in that very moment it felt like I had just been kicked in the stomach and within moments doubted who I was as a father and what kind of example i’ve been to my child. Within moments of him saying those words I had felt like I was already losing my son. I suddenly felt in my mind and spirit the desperation to correct him and somehow do whatever I could to change his way of thinking. My mind scrambling to figure out where I went wrong and if I had brought that to him or if he developed that on his own. At that very moment I realized how much I wanted my sons to adapt my faith and my belief in God, but at the same time bewildered to how I am going to help them believe in it and adapt our faith as their own. Not to believe in what mom and dad believe in but to believe in what they truly believe.

This is where my own beliefs came into play and how growing up in a religious family and always surrounded by church and ministry made it very hard for me. I have the type of personality that questions and digs deep. I look for the meaning behind everything and want to know ‘why’. When you grow up in something that is constantly surrounding you, at some point you wonder… Is this what I believe or is this what I’m told to believe. When your constantly feeling guilty for having your own opinion and wanting to know why and questioning everything… It can be viewed as rebellious and going against the flow. WHen in reality it’s a need to deeply, truly understand that what i believe is real.

You see, I’m already seeing in Kyle this type of pattern of thinking and it’s challenging me to somehow teach and lead my sons in a way that will allow them to develop a love and relationship with God not because I have but because they want it and desire it. With all the outside influences, I’m realizing that there’s nothing I will be able to do to shelter my sons minds and hearts. They will get hurt. They will hear things they shouldn’t. They will see things they shouldn’t. There’s absolutely nothing I can do to protect them every minute of their life. It shakes me to the core knowing that I won’t be able to protect them from the pain and suffering that comes from life.

Kyle is 5 now and to think of how fast time flew and how fast he’s already grown. Time is short and you only have so much time to teach, mold and develop until they begin to think for themselves and develop their habits and character on their own. What you teach a child between 1 and 6 can shape their rest of their lives. Your setting them up for life’s struggles because at some point they no longer will hold onto you for protection and hold your hand through hard times.

Even at 5 Kyle doesn’t want help going potty or getting dressed. He gets embarrassed when he pees his pants at night or doesn’t something wrong. He gets upset if you raise your voice or discipline and you wonder if you’ve already caused resentment or bitterness at such a young age. It’s a scary thing being a father and having children. Every moment is a time of teaching and leading by example. They listen to everything you say and apply it almost immediately. They take what you say as gospel and believe everything you tell them to a certain point. It’s an immense responsibility we have as a father to lead them and guide them the right way. It’s a heavy burden to carry and I wonder every minute of the day… Have I done the right thing? The hardest part is that knowing how I was and how I conducted my life through high school and college.. I realize I really only have a short window of opportunity to do this right, because there’s only one chance at it. They are only 5 years old once.

Even now as I’m sitting here writing this … All i can think about is what he’s doing right now at home while I’m at work. It’s 7:30am and knowing him he’s sitting in our living room watching cartoons while playing with his hotwheels. Not a care in the world other than what’s on tv and how long it will take for mom to make some bacon (his favorite) and taunt Tyler. Yet, I sit here at work, carrying his burden already for what hasn’t happened yet. Scared for his life and wanting to protect him. What a feeling it is to be a father. It’s unreal. Yet if this is how I feel… I sure wouldn’t want to be in God’s shoes. I would be a wreck.