Today’s blogpost represents a slight departure from what I had planned. Rather than the second installment of the series on “Becoming A Foster or Adoptive Parent,” I would like to share some thoughts on parenting that are a little more personal. The series will resume next week. In the meantime, thanks for joining me and I hope you enjoy the read.
Just two short days ago, I successfully completed my oral defense of my dissertation for the Doctor of Ministry degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The ensuing 48 hours should have been filled with unbridled celebration, but have not been. Don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled about the completion of a process that has occupied a significant chunk of my adult life and ministry. I am very excited about the possibilities for future service to God’s kingdom that the degree affords. What has tempered my reaction to this milestone is an overwhelming recognition of the sacrifices others have made to make this possible.
My wife, Barbara, left a comfortable teaching position with a very adequate compensation package in the midst of drastic staff reductions that continue to challenge the job security of Texas classroom teachers. After several months, she found employment in a nearby district where she enjoys the educational setting, responsibilities, and the hourly wage she draws, but without the benefits she typically would receive as a classroom teacher. Rising early, a thirty-minute rush-hour commute to and from work, and unpaid days off are but a few of the sacrifices that she has endured for the last two years. But, she willingly took the step of faith and accepted the necessary sacrifices to allow me to complete this degree.
Meanwhile, my children have experienced more than their share of sacrifice. They had completed three years in a school district where they enjoyed the schools, they liked their teachers, and had made a significant number of close friends. The move from a comfortable house in a typical, rural housing development to big city apartment-style living was a bit of a culture shock. Even greater a challenge was the reality they faced that they no longer lived among “typical” neighborhood kids.
The new “neighborhood” in which they would be living was on-campus housing at an evangelical seminary. In essence, every new friend they made was a future “preacher’s kid.” Beyond the on-campus neighborhood, and predominately in the schools they attended, was a larger neighborhood of immigrants whose culture and language was very different from our own. Behavioral expectations of the community in which they lived and played, as well as overwhelming minority status in the classroom, has made for a challenging environment over the past two years.
As graduation is only a few weeks away, I have had the opportunity to reflect on what these past two years have meant for my family. I am humbled at the sacrifices they have willingly endured in order that I could complete what I felt was an important life-goal. Recognizing that their time in our home is more than two years shorter than when this chapter of our lives began, I must now commit myself anew to future decisions that will put their best interests and needs before my own. Meanwhile, I better take the extra time to say thank you to my wife and my children for standing by me and enduring the sacrifices. Maybe this blogpost will represent a sufficient first step. Keep us in your prayers.
Each of us, as adults, makes everyday decisions that affect the lives of those whose love we cherish. In spite of the good intentions of those decisions, we hopefully recognize the sacrifices that our decisions have forced upon them (for the sake of those loved ones, please don’t fool yourself into thinking they haven’t made any). When was the last time you told a loved one that you recognize the sacrifices they have made and their willingness to do so? When was the last time you expressed your love and appreciation for them and their sacrifice? (Can’t find the words to say it? Print and share a copy of this blog to get the conversation started.) When was the last time you sacrificed an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year in order that a loved one might do what they needed or wanted to do? What are you waiting for?