Yesterday my son Jared called from the airport. He was on his way to Taiwan. I remember when he was on his way to preschool. And I cried.
At that time I was pregnant with the twins and I had ample reason to cry. I had four children under the age of twelve. Twenty-seven weeks into my pregnancy my doctor asked me to be on bed rest. This inactivity took a toll on me, my children and my house. From my sofa I was able to look out my window where I would watch the people passing by. Daily, our neighbor would walk her dog and I was jealous. By then just walking across the room to answer the phone left me breathless (I had babies where my lungs belonged.) Just adjusting my pillow caused pain. My children were in school most of the day so I had no one to talk to, my house was only clean when someone else came to clean, I’d been released from all my responsibilities at church or at the school so I was bored, lonely and cranky. Watching that neighbor walk everyday filled me with envy.
Weeks later, my babies arrived, my health and vitality returned. I could clean my house, play with my children, walk my dog, and do all the things that I had missed during those weeks of bed rest. I learned many, many things at that time, but the one I’m sharing is this: we all have challenges. We can never look at someone and assess their choices or situations. Imagine my chagrin when I later learned that neighbor I envied had a serious heart condition. Within a few weeks my energy returned to a level that woman has probably never known, or will know in this life.
We all have lessons we need to learn. I’ve tried to teach them to my children. Baseball, soccer, football, track, swim team, roller hockey (that was scary, almost as scary as driver’s ed, not nearly as scary as the prom.) Piano, flute, trumpet, saxophone, tuba, piccolo. When Adam practiced his violin the dog would howl and the babies would cry. Nathan played an instrument that matched him in size. At Bethany’s swim meets, I felt we all bordered on child abuse when we put our babies in the pool and screamed at them (cheered for them, which sounds just like screaming) until they reached the other side – ten years later Bethany was captain of her high school swim team. The scratchy violin became musical. Nathan grew bigger than his tuba. And then one day I watched grown up Adam pick up young Jared for church. As I watched them walk away together, dressed in their white shirts and ties, it occurred to me that the most important lessons that they’ll ever learn, if they’ll ever learn them well, is to love each other and to love God.
Today Jared arrives in Taiwan and he’ll learn lessons I’ll never know.