I am so grateful for the three young men that Teresa and I have raised, because past all my own failings, each of them teach and encourage me on a daily basis. Recently, Isaac caught me off guard with a reminder to be thinking of others before myself.
I have said for years, and when I was a pastor I preached it, that we should not fight to get the front spots in a parking lot when we go shopping. “Think of someone who might be arriving just after you who needs that closer spot,” I would say. “We’re all healthy and we can easily walk an extra fifty feet. We should be thinking of others in practical ways that help them have a better day.” I often made the bold claim that this was an important spiritual practice to help make a kinder, better world.
A few weeks ago the family came and joined me at the Mall for dinner when I got off work. Since Teresa drove up with the boys we had to decide who was driving home with whom, and Issac ended up with me. As we exited the Mall, and he saw my car right up front by the door and he says, “Wow, dad.” “What’s up?” I asked. “You parked really close to the door.”
Ouch. Like every good person caught not quite walking like they’re talking, I started to rationalize for my son. I immediately began with something like “Well, you see, when I arrive for work really early in the morning there aren’t many people here and the older folks walking for exercise at the Mall have already arrived and found parking.” Blah blah. And my son says, “Hmmm.”
As I thought more about it I realized that getting caught like that was a better occasion to humbly thank my son than to undermine one of the central things I’d been trying to teach him all his life. Later, I did thank him for the reminder and promised to park further back from then on. And I did start parking further back the next day.
I’ve been praying my daily prayer for several years now, “Let me love, let me learn, let me serve.” I’m glad for the little reminders along the way to stay on top of my game. I’m glad for the humbling that comes from raising our kids. I’m glad that God sometimes answers daily prayers not always with more things to do, but with needed reminders of who to be.