It was a humid, summer night. I was sitting outside with our 2 month-old, Samuel, enjoying the sunset, but even more so the fact that he was smiling at me and not crying. Sitting there with him, I continued to think more about what I wanted for him and his siblings as they grew up. Obvious thoughts of health, happiness, and holiness came to mind along with fulfilling family lives (if they so choose) and vocations that were both meaningful and sustaining.
But as I sat there playing the smiling game with him, I began to think about what I really, really, really wanted for my kids—the kinds of things that would run like a spirit through them as they got older and would guide all aspects of who they would become and where they would go. And here is what I heard…
To not be afraid to suffer for meaning and find meaning in suffering: I don’t desire for my kids to suffer for suffering’s sake, but rather be willing to suffer for a purpose that supersedes fleeting desires and comfortable confines. In their suffering and pain, I want them to experience triumph in finding peace and a dimension of being otherwise unknown.
To be strong and vulnerable enough to know and love others deeply, again and again: I hope that my kids find a deep human connection with the young and old, male or female, black or Hispanic, marginalized or embraced. I hope that their knowledge and love of each other is only bound by the commitments that they make and the openness to each person they encounter.
To experience a sense of awe for the simple things and to strive toward an existence that transcends them: I want my kids to never miss out on the miracles in the mundane and find great pleasure in daily life. Yet I want them to seek out the unseen, the incomprehensible, the seemingly impossible if they are so called in not being afraid to give up small prizes for a great reward.
To have the courage to step forward, the prudence to step back, and the patience to stand still when circumstances demand: I yearn for my kids to constantly discern what direction life is calling them—to have the patience and conscientiousness to be a voice, or to be silent; to be a force, or be a servant—always discerning.
To pursue a life that is exemplified by genuineness, empathy, and truth-seeking: I wish that they will trust the process first, outcomes second, and that my kids will take a course defined by faith and good practice rather than by assurance and superficiality. In doing so, I hope they will trust that happiness will come to those who don’t first seek out happiness.
To say “I’m sorry”, “I love you”, “thank you” and “I forgive you” at times when it is needed the most: I want them to be full-fledged, transparent, dynamic human beings who understand that intimacy and truth comes to those who are willing to unveil the 4 four chambers of their heart—that of graciousness, forgiveness, humility, and charity.
To be who God calls them to be, regardless of fear or doubt, misfortune or malice, notoriety or not: Ultimately, I just want my kids to embrace the calls that run through their sinewy fibers and innervate their heart, mind, and soul. I want them to know that they are a child of God first and that we, their earthly parents, were blessed to be chosen to raise them so that one day, they come to know their Mother and Father in heaven, and accept the extraordinary mission given to their ordinary lives no matter where it takes them.
If you must know, this is what I want for my kids and for their kids to come. What is it that you want for yours?