Philip is here and the whole world is different. I knew his arrival would change things, but it was hard to imagine just how much. Already all my schedules and plans have been pushed aside. I know there are many important things going on in the world right now. But nothing can be more important for me at this time than taking care of my son and my wife.
Besides the obvious parental instincts kicking in and the overwhelming responsibility of taking care of this new life, I think one huge factor behind this shift in seeing the world is the fact that this 52 cm, almost 8 pound package is the next generation.
As I hold him, I find myself praying for him: for his present day health but also so much more – his physical and mental development, the hobbies and toys he’ll get into, his future friends and schools, etc. Because even though those events are years away, they are very present when I see him.
I naturally start praying for Carla and myself – for all the strength, grace, wisdom, and love that God can give us to parent this child correctly. “Lord, let me do right by this boy,” is something I keep saying over and over. I know that more than success in any other area of work or ministry, God will hold me accountable for Philip Nathaniel. That realization makes me pray more.
That is the effect of seeing the next generation. I realize now that, when my parents would discipline me as a child, they were talking to me in the present, but they were also seeing me in the future. That’s what drove the sometimes emotional conversations we had.
In the same way that I pray for a 3 day old’s future career and travels around the world, they saw my 3 year old or 13 year old (or 30 year old) foolishness as a direction that had to be corrected. It wasn’t just what happened in the present; it was about the next generation.
- I pray for all of us reading this that first of all, there was(is) a generation that went ahead of us that sees us as the next generation. Maybe it’s our parents, a relative, teacher, religious figure, coach, I don’t know. Maybe they drove us crazy, or still do. But they probably saw something of the next generation in us. They aren’t just disciplining us because of what’s happening in the present. They see in us so much hope and potential for the future; that’s why their responses seem out of proportion.
- And all of us aren’t just the next generation to someone else. We are also charged with passing something on to a generation coming after us. The most significant impact our life will have will be the impact we have on the coming generations. Here’s a question that can guide us for daily decision making: Am I living a life that I would like to see passed on to the next generation?
Last night, I hugged my dad and told him, “When you lecture me, it can drive me crazy. But when I think about it, only you would care to say these things to me. Thanks Pop.”
Then when everyone was gone, I was holding Philip and I told him, “I love you, son. I’m probably gonna say and do things that drive you crazy the way your Tata does to me. But know this, it’s always because I love you so much.”
We are all someone’s next generation, and we are all going to pass whoever we are to the next generation.
***I’m posting it to stick to my M-W-F schedule, but I wrote it in between feedings and changings in the wee hours of the morning. I hope it makes sense. Hahaha!*