When asked recently if they were bored and ready to go back to school, both my boys quickly said, “No!” When I asked them why, they began talking about their memories from this summer.
They remembered Bible camp, art classes and road trips. They remembered making extra money working for others and hanging out with friends. They talked about exercising together, swimming, camping, our family reunion, our garden, and going to the library and garage sales. They loved PF Chang’s (see picture), hot dog Mondays (you’d be amazed at what tastes good on a hot dog) and eating at Weenie King.
I’m glad they have those memories. But what’s even more important is that someday they understand that through them while these memories were being created, I learned several significant lessons.
What did my boys teach me this summer?
- Just enough sometimes is okay. At the beginning of summer, I decided to do just the bare minimum with blogging and other projects. This approach allowed for more time with my boys. Doing just enough in one area allowed me to do more than enough in another.
- Responsibility sometimes means losing control. With my youngest entering middle school this year, we focused more on teaching responsibility. Through some tough days, I learned that I needed to give up controlling them in order for them to truly learn responsibility.
- Interaction forces application. During the school year, most of my days are spent alone. Summertime means being with my boys most of the time. All that I read, study and learn during my alone times are forced into application. Patience. Flexibility. Compromise. Preferring. Time to apply and prove my own learning completed during the school year.
- The best memories exist in ordinary moments. Sure, we had out-of-the-ordinary moments this summer, but the moments that resonate the most are ones made during ordinary living. Grocery shopping. Cooking. Exercising. Practicing sports. Reading. Gardening. Yard work. When my boys were learning to be men, these are the memories that I treasure most in my heart.
Is all of this part of “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6)? Before now, this scripture meant teaching scripture and the importance of spending time with God and His Word. It also meant teaching the value of prayer and fellowship. And while all of these are true, I realize now that my view of this scripture has been limited.
Now I see that training a child “in the way that he should go” also means showing how Jesus impacts my life. It means making sure they know He truly directs my steps. It means that though my imperfections often shine all too clearly, His forgiveness and grace constantly shine in my weaknesses.
Someday, when my boys remember our summers together, I want them to know that in their summer memories, live lessons God taught me through them. I want them to understand the Holy Spirit’s working in my life, so they can know how He wants to work in their lives too.