If you are a parent, you are going to make mistakes. Certainties in life are death, taxes, and getting things terribly wrong as a parent. But I do take solace in the victories. I’m not getting it all wrong, after all. There is at least one thing I am confident we’ve gotten right.
When my son Nate was two and a half he had his adenoids removed. We decided to have this minor, outpatient surgery because Nate would get a mild cold and then could not get rid of it without antibiotics.
But the morning of the surgery was oddly frightening. He was in a season of daily pretending that he was Robin Hood from the 1973 Disney classic movie. To be like Robin Hood he needed to have a bow at all times. A stick and string could serve as his bow, or just a stick. In a pinch, anything could be a bow, even — as proven on the morning of the surgery — a tongue depressor.
I can picture that darling, precocious boy sitting in my lap with his tongue depressor bow, not at all aware of what was coming. They put him in a little gown and began to give him sleep inducing drugs. The scary part was that for no apparent reason he just kept telling me how much he loved me.
“I love you so much!” He kept saying over and over again. Then, as the drugs started to take effect, the words just got slower, “I…. love…. you….. sooooo…… much.” My heart pounded as they rolled him back, terrified that this was goodbye.
Finally, the surgeon came to the waiting room to tell us everything had gone well. A few minutes later we got to see Nate in post-op. They had just taken the tube out of his throat and he was clearly in pain.
When he saw me, he started yelling “Kiss it! Kiss it!” He opened his mouth as wide as he could, and used his chubby little finger to point to his throat. That sweet baby believed my kisses could fix anything!
The experience cured him of the notion that kisses could heal, but thankfully it did not impact how much he tells me he loves me. And that’s my one foolproof parenting tip: Make sure your home is one where people tell each other “I love you.”
We are called to love another, and although we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves, we certainly cannot love our neighbors if we don’t even love the people we live with.
Here’s a thought-provoking quote in a book I read a long time ago but was just flipping through this morning:
Jesus never once told us to love humanity. If preachers tell you that he did, they are serving up their own recipe instead of Jesus’. The only Jesus we know, the Jesus of the Gospels, told us to love as he did; that is, to touch and to serve the specific individuals we meet. (Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You)
That’s part of the problem with society right now. Too much emphasis on loving humanity, not enough on loving the specific individuals we meet. And whatever your views on social media (I still need to watch The Social Dilemma) loving people we meet needs to mostly, if not exclusively, mean people we meet in the flesh.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 NIV.
May we all prove our discipleship this weekend and always!
P.S. The picture above is Nate at 2.
P.S.S. If the title of this post made you sing the George Thorogood song Who Do You Love? that is appropriate because Thorogood was all three Jackson boys’ first concert.