"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16, NIV).
Being a dad is amazing! It is something I never really had directly, yet something & someone I always wanted to be. The role of fatherhood has taught me many lessons of the highest importance that continue to shape the everyday of my life. For starters, it has taught me, or reminded me, that I really don't know ANYTHING! It's true and I admit it. What I think I knew or know can appear to be irrelevant when it comes to same strategies with different kids or different situations. The big lesson, is that I never stop being a student. Another concept that I am learning is that parenting has shown me that time-travel really does exist. Sounds shocking, doesn't it? In my kids, there are times that I am able to look back through the tunnels of time and see me. I can see the struggle, remember the feeling, and even reconnect with the pain of a particular situation they may encounter.
Once, one of my kids became overly anxious over the reality that 'friends' can be unfriendly, and that relationships change depending on what one is willing to stand up for comply to tolerate. My son wanted so desperately bad to switch schools or join the home school movement all to escape this feeling of rejection or separation. My son is a Christian and is growing in his own personal faith, but he is also a boy who longs for friends, belonging, and acceptance. One incident has a way of becoming bigger in the mind than reality actually defines. This is where the time-travel comes into focus. Seeing him now reminds me of the pain of wanting to belong but never fitting in during that season of life. It was unbearable at times to see the camaraderie but never feeling included in the glue that seemed to hold them all together. I focused more on what I didn't have than I did on who I was. I was a boy who knew Jesus but gave more attention to what I wanted than to what He wanted for me.
The benefit this version of time-travel has taught me and has prepared me to teach my children, is that everyday is a day God has given us to know Him. Knowing Him doesn't mean that we don't want to know others or that we don't need friends or relationships in our lives. It doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt when we feel overlooked or not included. The fact is, people can be cruel. It is a reality. But what God HAS given is opportunity to live each day in a way that reflects something so much greater than that which we feel we don't have. We have Jesus. So, live Jesus. Reflect Jesus. Let them see Jesus. Be defined by Jesus. Live as though you know that you are accepted, invited, included, and befriended by Jesus. It really does change everything. One of the lessons that I learned from what I did NOT do, but can benefit my son now, is to focus more on BEING a friend than HAVING a friend. When your focus is having a friend, you might compromise who you are in order to achieve the goal. If you focus on being a friend, you let others see who you really are, see Jesus in you, and that your friendship is real.
Jesus called you the Light of the World. It's dark out there and so many of us have wasted so much time trying to shine off of the dimness of others when Jesus has called us to reflect the Light that shines brighter than the day. So go ahead. Shine. Be the Light of the World. Let others see that who you are is never contingent on how they see you, but on how you see Jesus. It may not always feel good, but it is a much better feeling at the end of the day to know who you are in Jesus. Because that will never change no matter how much or how often people and 'friends' do.