Last night my world was rocked just a little off-kilter.
A young friend of ours, a contemporary of two of our children and a frequent hanger-outer in our home, got caught up in a situation that will change his life forever, and not in a good way. I’ll omit details and names, but suffice it to say that his relationship with his parents has not been good, and now, with the forced intervention of the legal system, it may be irrepairable.
We’ve been concerned about this young man for some time. And yet we didn’t say anything. Didn’t want to cross a boundary. It wasn’t quite our place; there are other people who are closer to him. And we weren’t seeing him as much recently, so it would have been awkward to have a serious discussion. But still.
Once the current firestorm has died down, we’ll reach out to him. Let him know he’s still welcome in our home and that we still care for him. And in the meantime, I’m thinking big thoughts about life, parenting, the universe, and everything (thank you, Douglas Adams, for that handy – and misquoted – phrase).
A couple of weeks ago I participated in a podcast for work, in which three of us on staff discussed the story that’s commonly called “The Prodigal Son.” One of my points in the conversation was that I never had a snowball’s chance of understanding the extravagant, crazy, unbounded love God has for each of us (as the father had for his son in the story) until I had my own children. Of course, I’ll never have full understanding of the mystery of God’s love for all people. But I do have the experience of loving my own children with a love that knows no boundaries, a love that will never change – no matter what awful things they might do – a love that will welcome them back with open arms every. single. time.
I believe with all my heart that every person, in order to be healthy, happy, and whole, needs to know that someone loves them with that kind of love. I’m confident my three children know, down to their core, that their father and I think they are absolutely the most awesome people on the planet.
That is the job of a parent. If I never do anything else important with my life, I hope I’ve succeeded in that.
I’m not at all sure our young friend has ever felt that someone cares for him beyond all measure; that he’s the most important thing in the world to someone. I believe if he had, he wouldn’t be in the place he’s in now.
Just imagine how different our world would be if every parent succeeded in that one task.