Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Minister's Corner

This is the column I wrote for the Saturday, May 13th, Minister's Corner in the Shawnee News Star.

“Deep in the hundred acre wood, where Christopher Robin plays,
you’ll find the enchanted neighborhood of Christopher’s childhood days.
A donkey named Eeyore is his friend; and Kanga and little Roo.
 There’s Rabbit, and Piglet, and there’s Owl,
 but most of all Winnie the Pooh.” [1]

            This is from the theme song to Disney’s “Winnie the Pooh.” But in our house it was called “The Eeyore Song.” This was one of my daughter’s favorite songs, and we sang it over and over again. I do not know why she honed in on the particular lyric about Eeyore, but she did, so “The Eeyore Song,” it was.

            That little girl who loved Winnie the Pooh and singing The Eeyore Song is graduating from high school on Monday. Like every parent facing this moment, I am asking myself where the time went. How is it possible that my oldest born, my darling daughter, is getting ready to graduate high school and set off into the world? She should still be playing dress up, creating new fashions for her Barbies, and giving communion to her dolls (she is a preachers’ kid, after all). As my significant other says, “the days are long but the years fly by.” My, how these years have flown.

            When she was a toddler and her brother was a baby, we sat in our doctor’s office for a check-up. She was being a toddler all over the place, and I must have looked exhausted, which I was. Unexpectedly my doctor asked me a question I was unprepared for.

            “What is your job as her parent?”

            I thought for a second and said, “I don’t know; to make sure she’s happy?”

            He shook his head and said,

            “That’s not your job. You can’t guarantee that your kids will be happy. Your job is to make sure they can live in the world. Your job is to ensure they can function in society. That’s your job.”

            I have never forgotten his words. Now, as she stands on the brink of this new world, I find myself asking if I have prepared her for that world. Have I taught her the right things? Have I shown her and modeled for her ways to not only survive but thrive? Lately every parenting mistake I have made – and there are a lot of those – seems to be presenting itself to me. Will my mistakes keep her from doing well? Have I done enough? Have I done too much?
            Along with these questions, I also worry about the world she, my son and the others their age are getting. I have never felt more uncertain, more afraid for our world than I have in recent times. What problems are she and her generation inheriting? Some problems I can predict; many only time will tell.

            Yet in spite of my worries, I also know that my daughter, my son and their peers are some of the brightest, most compassionate, most passionate, empathetic and determined people I have ever had the honor of knowing. Their generation gets a bad rap, but I believe that if any generation has the potential to do great things in and for this world, they do.

            When I can remind myself to breathe, I can also remember that I trust in a God who is bigger than my fears. I believe in a God whose nature is Love. My sweet girl is loved more than she can possibly know – by her parents, grandparents, family, friends, and most importantly, by God. I am going to trust in God that she will be well. It is time for her to make her own way, make her own mistakes, learn her own lessons, and follow her own call. In my heart she will always be my little girl, but I could not be more proud of the woman she is becoming.

            So to the other parents and grandparents who are preparing for this moment as I am, I wish for all of us to experience nothing but joy for our children’s achievement. And to my daughter and all of the graduates, I wish you nothing but love and hope and blessings for a long life well lived.

            I started this off by quoting Winnie the Pooh, so I will end it with a quote from Pooh’s creator, A.A. Milne. The following is one I seem to see everywhere nowadays, but that does not detract from the wisdom of the words.

            “If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together..there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart…I’ll always be with you.”

[1] “Winnie the Pooh,” written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. 

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