Monday, April 27, 2015

52 x 19.25

Do you know what is significant about 52 times 19.25?

That is the number of weeks your child will live from birth until they are 19 and 1/4. That comes to:

1,001 weeks.

Most parents have at least some level of influence over their children for the first 19.25 years. Hopefully, we have a lifetime of influence, but for a thousand and one weeks most parents are allowed the strongest voice in their children's lives. What can you do with a thousand and one weeks?

Does this number feel like a threat or an opportunity?

If you think that good parenting depends on your being perfect or always having the right answers then this is probably a pretty depressing number. After all what are the chances of any of us putting together a streak of 1,001 weeks without some kind of major failure or disappointment? How could we possibly make it such a long time without completely destroying or eternally scarring the little people who depend on us? If good parenting is about having it all together all (or even most) of the time then 1,001 might make you despair and want to give up.

On the other hand--thank God for the other hand--perhaps good parenting is about the bigger picture. What if our children learn more from the fabric of their life than the threads? By the fabric I mean the overall picture and impression that our children get from living day-to-day and, yes, week-to-week in our households. If you look very closely at fabric through a magnifying glass the threads often look like a jumbled mess of chaos. Some threads may even be broken, frayed or out of place. But when you "zoom out" on a good piece of fabric the threads all come together to make a pattern and a strong cloth that is useful. So the thread of your life may include many missteps, wrong turns and outright failures, but that doesn't mean that the fabric of your parenting can't have integrity.

When we look at the small picture 1,001 weeks is overwhelming. We experience failure as a parent and think there is nothing we can do to make it better. When we look at the big picture we can see that the failures don't matter so much as the consistent intention and attempt to protect, guide and empower our children to become adults with integrity and passion. The Bible tells us, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

The wisdom of the proverb reminds us that if we have woven the Wisdom of God into the very fabric of our children's lives then it will endure throughout their lives.

So what will you do with your 1,001 weeks?