Every year, my wife and a bunch of friends get away to sort through old photos – physical and virtual – reminiscing of days long gone with friends and family. They call it “scrapbooking,” although I’m not seeing many scrapbooks as a result anymore. She made some for me from pictures I brought into our marriage, and many others with our children, celebrating and cataloging their growth. I need to check and see what the progress is on the next one.
My wife did bring me a photo she found during her latest scrapping retreat, and it almost brought us both to tears when we looked at it together. This is me, holding my baby son, circa 1991. I was so proud to be a dad. Apparently, he was enthralled with me at the moment, touching my cheek with his chubby hands. He is 30+ now, and adulting his way through this world. 6 feet tall and outweighing me by 40 pounds, even if I could cradle him and make goo-goo eyes, I don’t think he’d be into it anymore. I’m very proud of him, and he has been a great source of help and encouragement through my autism discovery a few years back and the journey since.
I think he still needs to learn how to drive a stick. We tried that one day, and I decided to save us both the emotional trauma and call it off. I may have also saved the namesake of this blog – the Mini’s Manual Transmission! Nobody’s perfect – and if he decided that he really wanted to conquer manual transmissions, I’m sure he could. His skills surpass mine in many areas, and rather than compete, I simply cheer him on.
I have danced with my daughter many times. I also walked her down the aisle, handing her over to another man to have and to hold. I have watched a son get stitches in the ER, seeing the fear and pain on his face during the procedure. I have had moments of my own failure as a parent, and moments of great pride seeing my children succeed in various pursuits. I was involved in their education through high school as the “principal” and sometimes as math instructor (but my wife gets credit for most of their instruction) while we homeschooled. I went to almost every karate practice, to the ballet recitals, and to the theatre performances, cheering them on.
Is our heavenly Father cheering us on? What does HIS face look like as he looks at his children? 1 John 3:1 says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God.” (NKJV) “Bestowed” is not a word we use much today unless perhaps we are talking about an inheritance. A reader could translate “bestowed” as “given” – and some more modern translations do say, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us.”
Our Father does look on – caring, smiling, wincing when we fail or slip, sometimes intervening to keep us from harm…carrying us as babies, and coaching us as we grow. He also has great expectations of us as part of His kingdom both here and in eternity. But His provision for us – that which we do inherit when we become His children through the work of Jesus – that is the ultimate love. My love for this son in the picture, and my other children, is only a dim reflection of the sacrificial love that He has for all of us. One day, we will see our Father look at us, face to face, and the glory of that moment will outshine this sentimental photograph.
We found a biblical name for this son. If I’m honest, there’s a slight nod to a superhero in choosing his name, too. Old enthusiasms live long for those of us on the spectrum. I’ll keep shiftin’ – hoping you keep reading.