I’m a dad. Not a perfect one. I try hard. I think about the subject of parenting a lot. When the boys leave home and go to college—I pray they have two things: roots and wings. Roots remind them whose they are and who they are. Wings enable them to become who God intends for them to become.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. –Ephesians 3:17-18
If the boys learn anything from me, I hope they know they are loved by their parents and their heavenly Parent. As far as roots go, it doesn’t get any better. I hope they know they are accepted not because of anything they have done or haven’t done, but simply because of who they are: our sons who are beloved children of God. I’m praying their roots are going even deeper. Roots like receiving and giving forgiveness, delaying gratification, persevering over obstacles, laughing often, practicing gratitude, practicing generosity, setting up good systems of support and structure, being hopeful, being courageous, and serving those who can’t help themselves with empathy and compassion.
They will need these roots. The world can be a cruel place. Somebody will break their hearts one day. They will experience rejection. They will make mistakes. Bad luck will happen. When the heavy winds and rains come, the shallow rooted willow tree doesn’t stand a chance. When the heavy winds and the rains come, the oak tree, because of its deep roots, does not move. May their roots go down deep.
Roots aren’t enough though. Wings are needed as well. People are created to flourish and discover and be a blessing.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. –Isaiah 40:31
I took Benjamin to Washington D.C. this week. The work on the roots now gives way to developing wings. He loves politics and law and economics. We saw a Supreme Court case, watched the Senators debate, did a college visit, ate from food trucks, took the Metro, and saw everything we could see in five days. I wanted him to see what it would be like to fly. To really soar.
I’m not looking forward to the day when boy #1 or boy #2 flies away. Not at all. I can’t imagine a more bittersweet moment. Time is relentless and predictable and that day will come soon enough. In the meantime, I’ll keep doing my best to keeping give them roots and wings.