Healthy and Helpful Living: one promise to enable another
So this morning I came across this article thanks to a friend (http://lisajobaker.com/2013/08/a-promise-for-my-daughter/). It was a wonderful read. I share the desire to “be there” for both my daughters and my son. (I don’t think sons are any less needful of such support.) And one of the many reasons I greatly appreciate both my parents is that they too have “been there” for me through the years.
So here is what triggered in me in a slightly different way as I was reading the article. One of my greatest fears is that there would be day that my children were in need of me and I couldn’t be there. I have preached on that before:
An active imagination is not always a good thing, and can be horrible thing for a parent. There are times I’ve found myself watching my children play with their gorgeous laughter and smiles that are like the rising of the sun…. And I’ll be watching them, proud parent caught up in the wonder and mystery and miracle of life, and in a twinkle of a moment I’ll find myself nearly in tears as I think… what would happen if someone stole my little Elizabeth. What would be like to hear her voice calling out in my mind every time the wind shifted in the trees? And in a flash of a moment a mental movie I cannot prevent has me seeing her screaming face because she doesn’t understand why I do not answer her cries and come to her rescue…
(from the sermon, God is Insanely Loving, found here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/andrew-kukla/sermon-at-palms-pres-god-is-insanely-loving/10150207684389466
This article however put me in touch with this fear in a very different way. What if I don’t live long enough to be there for my children when they need me? Yes, there are many ways I cannot control this. Accidents and tragedies happen, and to live in constant fear of that which I cannot control is a paranoia that is its own kind of sickness unto death. I do not wish to live in such a way, and generally I do not. However, there are parts of this equation I do control. I’m not a very good eater, I don’t exercise as much as I should, and I can over-work and over-worry about work. Generally I acknowledge these realities… and do nothing about them.
But here is how that is unfair: it is incredibly selfish.
I do not live for myself alone. The choices I make have ripples that effect lots of people, people I love and people who love me. And this article makes me acknowledge that I owe it to the people who love me to make healthy choices for my life so that I will be around for as long as possible – because while I can’t control all of that, I do control SOME of that.
When I make decisions about my life simply based on my own desires I forget that I’m not living only for myself. That I love hamburgers and fries is fine. That I indulge that often as a person with hereditary bad cholesterol is very selfish living, and short-sighted even for myself. That I find excuses of being too busy to exercise is losing sight of my priorities. There are really very few tasks to which I am so important that I can’t spare the necessary time to be healthy. This reminds me that in this conversation we must realize that some kinds of being selfish is actually the most self-less thing you can do. Taking time to rest and recharge your batteries is not about you, its about making you able to be there for others. Getting a sitter for the kids so that my wife and I can go on a date night and foster a healthy marriage is not simply about us – its actually about our kids. Because we will be there for them better when we take time for us, foster healthy lives and a healthy marriage, than when we mistakenly think that good parenting means being omnipresent to our children.
So I too promise to my children to be there for them.
But also I promise my children to do what I need to do for myself, so that I can be there for them.
I won’t be good at it, but that is a really lame excuse next to the love I have of my children and my desire to see them achieve their dreams, to hold them when those dreams die, and to watch them watch their children with the same love I have for them. So I’m making both these promises today – and I hope you will help hold me to them. (And if you wish, I’ll help hold you to the same in your life – in fact I’ll probably do that whether you want me to or not!)