As we round third base on this series of blogs on fear trust and parenting, I am going to talk about my youngest son Elijah now. He fits the typical profile of the youngest child – social, outgoing, loves to be the center of attention, dramatic, charming, spoiled, entitled, and handsome. A lot of these traits are commonly seen as the result of birth order research, but some of these traits rest solely on my wife Barbara and I, and we own them. It is exhausting to have 3 kids in 4 years, so we let some things slide.
In keeping true to his outgoing self, Elijah auditioned for a local holiday-themed play about two weeks ago. His attitude coming into the audition was amazing, and sounded something like this:
I assume that I am going to get a part, and probably a large part to boot. I am a very good actor, and have been in every play I ever tried out for. Plus, I have people tell me ALL THE TIME that I should pursue acting more seriously because I am so good. I actually think they might make a mistake if they don’t choose me.
In other words, he looked a little like this:
As I am listening to him talk about this, I have two completely adversarial thoughts running through my head:
1) I hope Elijah does not get a part – he needs humility.
2) I hope Elijah does get a part – it would be exciting for him to be in another performance.
On the one hand, I was afraid that Elijah would walk out with an even bigger head if he got a significant part in this production. At the same time, I didn’t want his heart to hurt, and I was worried it would if he got rejected for this play. These crossroads in parenting are always interesting to me. Elijah’s emotional needs and his spiritual needs were really at odds with one another in this moment. Spiritually, he needed a reality check, a moment of clarity in which he realized that he was not indeed God’s gift to the acting world. At the same time, his heart is so very tender, and he is so easily discouraged and wounded. I would have hated to see him struggle with the pain of rejection, especially in an area that he perceives as a strength.
Thankfully, this time the decision was not in my hands. I did not have to determine whether to prioritize his spirit or his emotions. The director of the play got to decide this one, and his concern was merely ability, not the condition of Elijah’s heart.
My son received a small but active role in this production, and along with it a dose of humility. As the cast did the first read-through of the play, he realized that he was not ready for a major part in this play. Indeed, he was in awe of the actors with the two major parts:
There are so many lines. I have no idea how I could memorize all those lines in just a few weeks…Dad, did you hear how different her voice is when she is in character, as opposed to real life. I don’t think I could do that…I am SO GLAD that I didn’t get a big part in this play – it’s hard to learn so quickly.
One of the things that I love about our God is that He is ever watchful over every ounce of our being: spirit, body, mind, soul, and emotions. He knew I would face those parenting crossroads long before I did, and He had Elijah’s best interests in mind the whole time. I am so thankful that God does not leave us alone to parent our children, but that rather He joins with us. When we stand at a decision point, He is beside us. Truly, our God is always with us, supporting us, sustaining us, guiding us.
Have you ever had a conflicted moment as a parent, where you wanted two things for your kid at the same time? What happened?