I never used to take myself very seriously. Life was all about fun for me. I was all about playing sports, or watching sports, playing games, or making up games. Then, of course, there was beer.
I was a funny guy who hung out in a funny crowd. We would do just about anything for a laugh. Sure, we had our serious moments, our hard times, but we got over them quickly, and got back to the serious business of having fun and drinking beer.
But, time changes everything. Love and family came for most of my gang; responsibility. We got serious. We worked our jobs, paid our bills, and taught our children. Most of us dealt with financial hardships, some of us had marital problems, addictions, illnesses, childrens’ illnesses or death. Life wasn’t all beer and fun anymore.
Shed no tears for my pards and I, though. We may be slow, but we are growing up. I never thought I would say this about us; We are becoming mature adults. But, becoming less of a goofball and more of a serious person doesn’t necessarily mean we take ourselves seriously.
My wife said something to me some years back, before I was ready to hear it. She said that we would have to be the patriarchs of our family one day. I guess that should be pretty obvious, but to a beer-loving, fun-loving, twenty-something guy — it was an eye-opener. I was never more grateful for our parents and grandparents than I was on that day, because I was not ready. I never thought of patriarchs as being just the oldest remaining person in the family. In my mind, it always meant being a role model, the wisest, most trustworthy example of humility and grace that we could be. It meant leading the entire family, not just my little branch of it, through whatever tough times were in store for us.
Now, that revelation didn’t exactly set me on the path of wisdom and charity. I got serious about being a better ballplayer long before I thought seriously about having a positive influence outside of my own little world. I never forgot her words though.
I didn’t really believe in myself, in my ability to make a difference. I thought that raising my kids right would be enough. Someday, they might make a difference, meaning I made a difference, right?
Wrong! I live in this world, meaning I meet people all the time who need a helping hand, or a kind word, or a meal, or a blanket. Should I get my daughters to handle these things for me? If my eyes see injustice, should I call my son to stand up for the oppressed?
I still don’t really believe in myself. I don’t trust me. I am, however, learning to trust the God who made me. He is teaching me day-by-day that he can use me to make a difference in this world. I don’t have to be the sharpest tool in God’s toolbox. I just have to be available when he reaches for me, and in God’s hand there is no telling what He might build with me, or you.
We still have a lot of fun. Knowing that life is serious doesn’t mean we should lose our smiles forever. There is fun and games, love and laughter, tears and prayers in our home, and we are learning to take all of these things into the world with us.
As for being patriarchs in our family, my wife and I are both learning that the way to lead our family is by following the Real Patriarch.