"I don't need you to worry for me 'cause I'm alright. I don't need you to tell me its time to come home. I don't care what you say anymore, this is my life. Go ahead with your own life, leave me alone!"
I still belt out that chorus to Billy Joel's "My Life" with the windows of my Freightliner rolled down and screaming down the highway. At 17 it was the anthem to my defiance and the hymn of my wanderings. Now, at 47,with two teenage men growing up in my immediate sphere of influence, the meaning is a wee bit weightier and much more sobering.
My Dad always told me I can do anything I wanted when I was on my own, so I made it my mission. Though I guarded "my life" from the time I left home at 19, the truth is there were many good people who tolerated my fierce individualism and somehow poured their wisdom and care into me at the same time. I have been careful to follow my own path, even when it was reckless. And a lot of those people who have poured into me have thought(accurately) me a fool at times. Some folks just need to learn the hard way. On this side of it I see that those that do have to learn the hard way gain a deeper understanding of life, others, and themselves. I've made a lot of bone-headed decisions, sometimes putting myself in danger or in jeopardy with my career positions and relationships. But looking back I see all the times I placed my self between two hard places is the only way I could grow up.
Now there's another song that rings in juxtaposition. The last 3 weeks I have been experiencing the lonely joy of a father. My boys have been gone from home. My heart has become acquainted with new emotions as I am missing them much more than I thought I would. And I've been doing a little moping. They're on that mission. That stupid, crushing, sublime, American effort to rend possession of their lives from... me? Discovering and honing the abilities and talent God has imparted to them is thrilling to watch. For me, it was a rebellious defection. For them, another part of the journey to become God's idea. I hope the wisdom I have accrued from so much foolishness is working its way into their hearts and minds. They have left their old man. Harry Chapin's words have been echoing - "the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man in the moon, when you coming home, son, I don't know when, but we'll have a good time then, Dad..."
In our bid to control, we cling heartily to our idea of what our life is supposed to be like. I am surprised to be discovering how little of my life has turned out as I thought or planned. I am surprised to be discovering that "my life," which I battled so valiantly to possess, is not really mine at all. I thought I was really showing the old man how little I cared for what he thought back then. Tricky Old Man. I left with the seed he hid in my heart when I wasn't looking, that is now growing into a strong tree in the soil of all he taught me. It seems everything I do now is begun, endured, and tempered with his ideals. Somehow, all those stuffy teachers I loathed have gotten their sticky paws all in my heart and mind, as well. I truly perceive, that, indeed," what is gold will emerge through the fire", and that "cream really does always rise to the top_" a few sayings at which I rolled my eyes. Time + experience = you found out how immensely lacking in knowledge you were. And you thought you knew it all.
I visited them this past weekend. They were very busy and didn't have time for their mom and me. I knew it would be like that. I just wanted to see them. I hugged them tightly. I looked deeply into their eyes and saw that same ferocity, intensity, possessiveness. They think they're working out their life. They think they're walking their path. I'm good with it. Ultimately they will find out the Father in Heaven has planted a seed in their hearts when they weren't looking. The serving and ministering they are doing at a Christian camp for people with disability, the learning and growing they are undergoing-they think its all their idea and their doing. In the driver's seat of my freightliner, trucking deep into the night, I think of my boys and smile with a little tear in the corner of my eye. Being a Dad is brutally lonesome. But my joy is knowing they're growing into strong trees in the soil of all I taught them, all he taught me, all He has given us.
"...you are not your own. You were bought with a price..." 1st Corinthians 6.19-20