A Life Well-lived
Serving as an historical marker for the Riordan family timeline, our heads never fail to turn in the direction of a two room shack on Highway 92 in Fayetteville, Georgia. No kidding, it really was a shack on the outside, slave quarters at one time from what I was told, but cute and cozy on the inside and the perfect low cost dwelling for a “just getting started” married couple of kids like Tim and me. This, now boarded up but still standing landmark, is special for lots of reasons, but at the top of that list – Sarah Ashley was almost born there.
Contractions were six minutes apart when we headed to Georgia Baptist Medical Center in Atlanta arriving at 1:00AM. We were new at this and probably should have left sooner, but we were going by the textbook!
Two days later we headed to our humble abode with our prize. All the preparations had been made for her arrival and with all the excitement and wisdom of a 22 and 24 year old and God’s guidance, we began the incredible, most rewarding job of our lives.
No two births are the same but when we walk across the threshold of our home with our little bundle, we are all in the same boat.
There we stand holding this tiny infant life easily cradled in two hands, peachy soft skin, and that newborn smell. Truly, I don’t think there is anything in this life sweeter than a newborn baby! I know, it’s not so sweet when they are waking us at all hours of the night but when they are sleeping soundly in our arms or nursing from their mother’s breast, you would have to agree.
The complexity of this tiny being is difficult to fathom. They come to us with a DNA code that will determine their physical make up, level of intelligence, and personality, yet completely helpless and dependent on us. Empty in every way, they are, but full of so much potential! Their cloudy little sea blue eyes meet ours for the first time as if to say, “I need you for everything” and the fact is, they do.
It is overwhelming!
One of the worst things we can do as parents though, is panic. No need for that, just relax. What do you normally do in the face of an overwhelming task? Freak out? We’ve learned to break it down into small manageable goals; we can exercise those skills in parenting too!
If we were to show the complete work of parenting on a timeline, in my case, point A would be Sarah’s birth, and point B would be the stage at which she is now: happily married, hardworking adult, successfully raising a family of her own, a life well-lived.
To sum up in a few words what we all ultimately want for our children “a life well-lived” does it nicely, don’t you think? By the time our children get to be adults doing life and raising their own family we hope to be able to step back, hands off, and say with confidence and enthusiasm, “Now that’s a life well-lived!” This kind of life would be described with words and phrases like, hard working, honest, respectful, generous, etc. Composing your own list would be a great idea! The obvious question is, “How do we get from point A to point B?”
So, start with the big picture (mission statement/list) then whittle it down to one handy tool that will help you keep it all in perspective. A quick mental reference for the day to day rigors of training up your children would be great! Kind of like a rule of thumb.
I am reminded of that old familiar acrostic we learned growing up, a recipe for a life of JOY: Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last. Very simple, I know, but stay with me as you will come to see that while it will not provide the details of training up our children perhaps it will serve as a point of reference and help us get from point A to point B successfully.
Obviously, we do not come into this world with this acrostic in mind or even the concepts it represents. Come to think of it, we are born with only one thing in mind – “me”. Our babies cry when they are wet; they cry when they are hungry; they cry when they want to be held and “now” is the only timetable that makes sense to them.
So, bless their little hearts, our kids are born trying to spell JOY backwards! As parents, we meet them where they are. So if we hope to lead our children one day to live a life that spells JOY, we begin with “Y”, and help them spell it backwards first so they can one day spell it forwards.
It is paramount that we train up our kids in such a way that will lead them to get “Me” off the throne of their hearts and this training starts before they are one year old. With proper and consistent training we cultivate in our children the practice of submitting their will. They steadily progress from being acutely aware of their needs and desires to recognizing the desires of others starting with Dad and Mom.
Training our children to submit to our authority is the first step to leading them to live a life of JOY. Self is dethroned, preparing the way for the ultimate authority – Jesus Christ, a very spiritual matter, indeed!
Thank you for reading!
Practical suggestions on this subject in Nip It In The Bud!