Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reaching Back as You Go Forward

Tell believers to live the kind of life that goes along with accurate teachings. Tell older men to be sober. Tell them to be men of good character, to use good judgment, and to be well-grounded in faith, love, and endurance.
Tell older women to live their lives in a way that shows they are dedicated to God. Tell them not to be gossips or addicted to alcohol, but to be examples of virtue. In this way they will teach young women to show love to their husbands and children, to use good judgment, and to be morally pure. Also, tell them to teach young women to be homemakers, to be kind, and to place themselves under their husbands’ authority. Then no one can speak evil of God’s word.

Encourage young men to use good judgment. Always set an example by doing good things. When you teach, be an example of moral purity and dignity. Speak an accurate message that cannot be condemned. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed because they cannot say anything bad about us.
~ Titus 2, GW ~

A discussion with colleagues about inclusion across the demographics of diagnosis sparked this mental rambling.

I mentioned the challenge of bringing together families of school-aged children with those who have young adult children.

It can be awkward you know -- the young moms are often worried about things that can be ancient history to the older, more seasoned ones.  There's so much fear of the unknown...

 "Been there, done that!  And I don't want to go back!"

This is the impression given by some of the veteran parents, despite the absence of words.

Meanwhile, the mothers and fathers of toddler or elementary-aged children can find themselves frightened by the young-adult kids; afraid to look that far into the future, still telling themselves as we once did, "We're not one of THESE."

That's when it occurs to me...

Why aren't some of the more experienced parents of kids with special needs -- the ones who are now in the throws of worrying about how to transition to adulthood -- motivated to reach back as they go forward in the journey?   

Why are so few willing to help the next generation of parents coming up behind them?

Is it because they are exhausted?  Do they feel like they have paid their dues and now deserve a life that is relatively oblivious to special needs?  Is it because they think too much has changed between the different generations of  children?  Could it be that it might be too painful for them to reach back?

Whatever the reason, the fact still remains that God calls each of us to mentor the generations behind us.  

We are to be good examples of virtue, love and dignity.  This means...
  • Modeling for others how to be firm with the school or doctor without ripping them to shreds.
  • Not allowing our emotions to have full sway in public all the time.
  • Refraining from publicly embarrassing our spouses when we are frustrated in marriage.
  • Offering our children compassion and tenderness along with a healthy dose of stretching and admonition.

We are also to be encouragers.  This means...
  • Being transparent with others about the ups and downs of parenting.
  • Spurring others on to perseverance and hope.
  • Helping those coming up behind us to gain perspective.
  • Serving as a channel of God's grace to the hurting.
What seems to get lost to us in our selfish, sinful, human state is that doing life God's way, while perhaps seemingly inconvenient, actually blesses us.  There are HUGE benefits to modeling and encouraging another parent behind us like...
  1. Getting to truly see how far the Lord has brought us on our own journey.
  2. The ability to recognize a level of competence that has been built-up over the years of parenthood.
  3. The joy of living out our God-given purpose.
  4. Shrinking of our own worries or an adjusted perspective.
  5. A deep sense of contentment in knowing that we have been a blessing to another person. 
We all have full calendars these days, but it is investing in others that is the legacy we are called to in Christ.  It takes so little to leave a big impact in the life of another weary traveler who is coming up behind us.  And we are blessed to be a blessing.  If you are ready to pass on that same comfort that God has compassionately given to you, feel free to check out the MENTOR Page on our website.  

PRAY:  Open the eyes of my heart, Lord!  Sometimes it is so easy to become hyper-focused on my own little world that I forget to look up at others who are struggling.  Help me to be more sensitive to those who could use my example and encouragement.  Guide me towards any new steps you would like me to take.

~ Barb Dittrich
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