Jul 28, 2008

family matters

Today is the last full day we have my nephew Nathan with us as a regular part of our household. It's been so much fun for us, and the lessons we've taken away have been unexpected - and perhaps may bless you with some valuable insights as well - especially if you've ever struggled with change.

If you don't know the backstory, Nathan joined us in late June as a way to give him a little vacation while my sister (his mom) moved from one place in Illinois to another. She's been setting up shop, finding a job, looking into school for her and him, and so on. Meanwhile, he's been jumping on our trampoline, riding a Batman bike, sleeping in a car bed, and losing his two front teeth.

Then there was a few weeks ago when my oldest son Joshua told him about becoming "one of God's knights." We use this sort of metaphor around our house so the boys can understand God as our King and the epic adventure He invites us into. The next day we had a great family chat during lunch and Nathan said he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart, too.

All through osmosis, he picked up that we had something going on he didn't yet. And he wanted it. That is just awesome!

The interesting lesson, though, has been how challenging it can be when the birth order is changed in a household. We didn't really do any major overhauls of how our household works, but simply by adding a new person into the mix it seemed like everything changed. The truth is that what has changed is the boys' understanding of their "place":
  • Joshua (7) went from being the oldest of two to the oldest of three. And the next kid down could keep up with him, which meant possibly run faster, possibly bike farther, possibly throw better, and... you get the picture.

  • Nathan (6) went from being an only child to a band of brothers. Likewise, he lept from a one parent household to a two-parent household.

  • Daniel (4) went from being the little guy to Joshua's "wingman," because they both know how the rules were before Nathan was around and how they're "supposed to be maintained."

As you can imagine, a lot of boy energy also created hurdles for my wife and I. And yet the crazy thing is not a lot has really changed... all that's happened is someone new came in.

It's been my experience that this can be a similar hurdle in a church. A group of people enjoy the way things are, and then when a new person or group of people come in things can get confusing. Nothing has really changed, and yet because now that things are to be spread out and shared more it can oddly feel unfamiliar.

Around our church, we do a pretty good job of letting anyone step in who'd like to be a part of the family. And yet while we value that I often find that the longer someone's been around the church the more grace they have to give for this to keep happening. Like a kid, a church can't stay at one age or phase forever... it has to keep maturing. We can enjoy the pictures of yesterday, but today real growth is happening before our very eyes... and tomorrow differences will be noticed.

As you can imagine, there have been some challenges this summer in our household. But don't misread that - they have been absolutely worth it so we can be a blessing, experience a blessing, and help usher someone into eternity. If the trade off to that means some extra grace and directional love on our part, then everyone wins.

So how about it?

  • Where in your life are you afraid of change?

  • How might you have mislabeled a situation or group of people as negative when it was merely a "birth order" sort of shift?

  • Are you willing to trade yesterday's 2-dimensional photographs for today's 3-dimensional living?

  • Will you labor to see the value in being uncomfortable so that great growth can happen in your life and through your life?

No comments: