If you fly into town to visit me and bring a bag of any kind, expect to have my kids carry it into the house. When it’s time to leave, expect them to load it back into the car. Bring a bag twice their size? Not a problem. They will still muscle it through the door. I’m not sure if they got that hospitality from me or not, but I’ll certainly take credit for it.
I’m hoping this behavior sticks long-term because one day when I am a wrinkled, old man, they better carry my bags. I can see it now in my mind’s eye: I pull up and honk. The kids and grandkids all pour out of the house. “Can I help with your bags dad?” Only to be Interrupted by: “Oh no! Allow me, grandfather!”
Yep. That will be the day.
The blessings and sins of our families going back two to three generations profoundly impact who we are today.
Baggage. It’s a minor inconvenience when it’s a piece of luggage a loved-one is using to transport the things they will need for their stay. It’s an entirely different thing altogether when it’s emotional weight brought about by the consequences of our actions.
As I grow older, I am beginning to ask myself: “What kind of luggage am I piling on my children?” My problems. My struggles. My sin. When I fail to handle those things in a proper way, they often find their way to the shoulders of my children. I am reading a book right now and the author makes this statement:
“The blessings and sins of our families going back two to three generations profoundly impact who we are today.”
I’m cool with the blessings, but it would be nice if I was free to disagree with him about that sin part. Unfortunately, the guy totally backed up his point with Bible, so I have no excuse…
“…for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:5-6) [emphasis mine]
That’s some intimidating stuff.
As we look toward Father’s Day, I want to offer two brief challenges that I learned both from Scripture and from living in my dad’s house.
- Shield your children from your burdens.
- “Your mother and I aren’t getting along”
- “I hate my job”
- “I am going in for a doctor’s appointment to see if I have cancer”
- “Why can’t you be more like your brother?”
- “I don’t know if we can afford to live here anymore”
We ought to shield our children from these sentiments instead of unloading these onto them. I’m not saying we avoid transparency, but I am saying my child is not my burden-bearer. That’s not why God gave them to me.
There are things I bear alone merely because I’m dad. And that’s how it ought to be. But by “alone”, I mean “just me and God”.
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7 ).
I know my dad prayed….a lot. But I also know he had burdens he never shared with me. He carried his tough times and he carried mine because that’s what dads do. And I appreciate that now more than ever.
2. Bless your children while you’re still around to do it.
What does blessing your children look like? Good question.
- It looks like you taking them out for breakfast, only you and them.
- It looks like you stopping what you’re doing to play ball.
- It looks like you making sure you never miss a dance recital.
- It looks like you saying “no” to a job promotion because although it would mean more money, it would mean less time at home.
- It looks like you surprising them at college by showing up and taking them out for coffee.
- It looks like a family vacation.
You may be noticing a common theme here: time. You can always leave your kids money or a car or a home. But when your time on earth is up, you can’t give them any more time.
Our children are reaping consequences to seeds we have sown, both good and bad. What are you handing your children? Are you piling on so much baggage that they can’t even carry it through the door? Or are you shielding them from burdens and pouring out blessings?
Because, as my dad always says, “That’s what dads are for.”