I’ve been a parent for just eight months. But I’m already imagining what my son will be like in the next decade or two. In my mind’s eye I see him as the cool kid that’s friends with everyone. Or the fun athlete that also happens to make good grades. Or the intelligent artist that wins the respect of all. Or perhaps, all of the above.
As the picture in my mind’s eye widens and deepens in detail, I sometimes wonder what I’ll do if he’s a Star Trek fanatic. Or has a strange sense of humour. Or has that irksome quality in his personality that I can’t pinpoint exactly, but which gets on people’s nerves.
Frankly, I can’t say with certainty that I won’t be disappointed. I’m not even talking about him running away or becoming a juvenile delinquent. Just if he’s a little…unique.
You see, I had some ‘unique’ character traits myself growing up. I was pretty shy. And I don’t want my son to be like that. I want him to fit in with the crowd, to be popular, or at least respected; to not be weird or annoying; to not be a square peg in a round hole.
This thinking tells me a lot about myself. It tells me that I can be petty and cruel, even towards a made-up image of my grown-up children. It tells me that I am preoccupied with the standards that we humans have set up for each other. We like only people who are likeable. People who are hard to like, we keep a healthy distance from.
But is this how God operates? Not at all. God sees each person the same way that I now see my eight-month-old son. His admiration is not obstructed by a human check-list of personality perfection. He is not petty and cruel; on the contrary, according to the book of Zephaniah, He actually sings over all of us. And that includes the oddballs. (Have you ever pictured God singing? A peculiar image, isn’t it?)
If God rejoices in the boy with the chess obsession, how much more should I rejoice in him? Why do I hold people to a standard that not even God does? How do I learn to see them as God sees them, as beautiful people fashioned in his image?
It’s so easy to do this with an adorable, loveable baby. It’s much harder do with someone with a fully developed personality, that doesn’t quite jibe with your own. I admit, it’s a little frightening that after a lifetime of subjecting myself and others to this manufactured personality check-list, I am already applying it to my son. Thank God that he doesn’t treat me the same way I treat others. May He grant me the grace to never stop singing over my children, whoever they turn out to be; and may He give me the ability to chuck the check-list.
And who knows: maybe I’ll learn to love chess, Star Trek, and bad jokes in the process.
Image by Aleksandra P via stock.xchng images.