May 29, 2012 by bradcharlesbeals
I was watching a show about gold miners in Alaska, and one of the guys is complaining about how his dad doesn’t trust him to lead the operation. Another responds, “Yeah, seeing eye to eye is impossible. Too many memories.”
For a show that’s basically about fixing broken machinery in the woods, that was pretty deep. And it got me thinking.
When I look at my oldest son now I see every age he’s ever been. I can picture him at 3 walking around the optometrist store with his new glasses just as clearly as I can the 15-year-old with his learner’s permit and the 22-year-old husband. So in a way, seeing eye to eye with the older Charlie is impossible because the younger one’s there too. For good or for bad, he’ll always be a composite, and I’ll always have to struggle with seeing him and treating him as the right-now Charlie. Too many memories.
Those miners were wise, sort of.
For me, this has two implications that I see: one, there is a desire on my part to protect my toddler and fifteen-year-old from the mean and nasty world; and two, there is a tension (as in a challenge to me) to see him as the man God has made him to be. I should see both as blessings. The first as a grace to carry me through these awkward, sometimes very awkward teenage years. The tenderness that I feel for my younger children is still there with Charlie, but buried under a lot of other affections. The second as a blessing because as I’m reminded that my son is not mine (and has never been) but God’s very own, I’m also prompted to give praise to God for his creation. This is humbling. I have to let go of him–I’m only a steward.
For him, those implications are true, but in reverse. As I get old and my faculties diminish, he won’t be able to help himself from seeing the dad that was stronger than anyone and who knew everything (I can’t help but see my own that way). In Charlie’s eyes the young me will always be there, somewhere, under the wrinkles and frailty. But he will also be very much his own man–a wise and faithful man (if I do my job well) who is also my son. He’ll be to me a brother in Christ who sees my need, whatever that might look like. Again, these will be as God’s grace to both of us.
Those miners in Alaska diagnosed the problem well but that’s as far as their wisdom could take them. They had no hope in their fathers because–as far as I could tell from the hour-long show–they had no such God as mine to hope in. Their treasure lay elsewhere.