Rite of passage parenting: What went right?
Today, I’m confused. Something has happened to our youngest son.
I know good parents never compare their children. But our two sons are as different as the East is from the West. Our oldest, Jeremiah, is as intentional, organized and purpose-driven as anyone you’ve ever met. Our youngest, Caleb, is as disorganized as his brother is organized. He’s the creative dreamer and artsy risk-taker.
I’ve never understood how two kids who have the same biological parents, were raised in the same home, went on the same vacations and attended the same church can be as opposite as those two. Their differences did create some interesting family dynamics, though. Even at a young age, Jeremiah thought it was his job to corral and protect his younger brother. In almost every picture of them as children, you can see Jeremiah with a firm grip on Caleb.
Once, we were holding a youth camp in Panama City, Fla. I was sitting out in front of the camp when an older couple pulled up and opened their car door. Out climbed our five-year-old son, Caleb. Confused about this strange sight, I asked him what was going on.
“The students were walking down the beach,” Caleb told me. “I didn’t want to go that far, so I decided to go to the road and hitchhike back to
I was torn between being upset about what he had done and relieved that he was safe.
“You should never get into a car with strangers,” I scolded.
“But I talked to them before I got into the car. They told me they had grandkids of their own, and they were very nice.” Caleb couldn’t understand why I was upset. “Besides, I always wanted to see what it was like to hitchhike.”
I should have known that with a son who thought like that at five years old, I had a long journey ahead.
Now that my son has a son, I continue to pray for my children. In fact, you should never stop praying for your children. If we hadn’t prayed for Caleb, I doubt he would have lived to see six.
People say God will never give us more than we can handle. That isn’t true. The truth is He will never give us more than we can handle without Him. We have survived many “God with us” days, and He has been faithful. Today, our son is a pastor. Not only is he responsible for watching over a home and wife, but God also has entrusted an entire flock to his care.
When I heard Caleb and Adrian were going to have a child, I began to wonder what kind of dad he would be. I saw him love his wife as she went through the pregnancy. I saw him go to childbirth classes week after week. I saw him paint and letter a room that Adrian had designed for their son. I saw him as he came out of the delivery room bragging on what a great job Adrian was doing with her labor. I saw him holding a newborn Titus, and I see how he watches over that little boy. He changes diapers and gets up in the night to help.
The world’s most irresponsible child has become one of the most incredible, responsible fathers I know. He sits at night with young Titus on his chest and reads him the Scriptures. I don’t when or how it happened, but somewhere along the way, something went right.
Maybe that is the miracle of life. You do all you can. Then you cry out to God to do something, and when He does, you are shocked. My wife and I continue to pray for our children, and now, our prayers include our grandson.
There are many things we pray for our children. We pray for that day of salvation when the faith of their father and mother becomes their own. We pray for their future mates, and that God will lead them to a spouse who will help them build the Kingdom. We pray they will discover God’s perfect will for their lives. We pray against evil influences. The enemy wants to destroy our children, so we pray for God’s protection. And when we become grandparents, our prayers only increase.
And now, I have a personal word for my son: Caleb, you are an awesome father! I am very proud of you, and I continue to pray for you and Adrian as you raise young Titus. I did many things right in raising you, but I did many more things wrong. But the best thing I did for you was to take you to our heavenly Father, the One who can make everything right. Congratulations!