Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Strong Willed Son is Growing Up -- Celebrating Him


(sigh)

Memories fill my morning.

Today is my youngest son’s birthday and today he graduates from eighth grade. 

I’m smiling as I remember him, and I am crying tears of joy and tears of transition. Birthdays and graduations -- to me, there is something very reflectively Holy about them.

I ran across this photo of him a couple of days ago. 

On his fifth birthday, he received a plastic replica of the Armor of God.  He’d gear up and march around the house, fending off evil and bringing justice. His name, William, means ‘strong protector,’ and that was his quest.  He liked that his name meant that, and would often say, “I am your strong protector, Mom!”  I loved that!

Truth is, he was a little guy, strong-willed and filled with life, often more of a ‘won’t’ than a Will. 

One day, when he was three years old, I pulled up early to pick him up from preschool.  I watched him as he ran and played on the playground.  The preschool teacher called all of the children to line up outside of the door, to go back in to the classroom.

The children ran to the door and began to line up.  William lagged slightly (probably wanting to get in any extra moment of play) and then made his way to the front of the line, a line that was already formed.  The teacher gently took his little shoulders in her hands and led him to the back of the line.

“William, you need to get in line behind the last person. That’s how we line up. We don’t just go to the front of the line.”

He looked up at her and nodded.  She turned her back and walked away, and he, in a very deliberate act of independence, took one step outside of the line and stood still. He would stay in the back, but he would do it his way.

Today, he graduates from that same school where he started out, in preschool.  Strong-willed then, strong in the Lord, now.

Yes, he was a strong-willed child, but I’ve learned over the years, that it’s okay. (Take heart, my younger friends with strong-willed children)! 

Now I see how God is using it for good and is shaping his character.  My son is strong and gentle.  He knows when to be goofy and when to get serious (most of the time).  He loves his brother who has special needs and loves his three sisters, who try to rule the roost. He plays hard, works hard, and loves deeply.  He understands rules much better than he did when he was little, but also does things his own way, but in a good way. He is compassionate, kind, and thoughtful of others. He is sometimes loud and forgets to use the volume switch, but he is fun.

Although he is not perfect, God knew that he is the perfect son for me.

My prayer for him this year, as he continues in to manhood is that he will continue to gear up, not in a plastic replica, but in the true Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). I pray that he will not depend on himself to be strong, but will look to the Lord for his strength.  He’s going to need it. And I pray that he will both know the Lord as his protector and that he will, in turn, have a heart that is called to protect others, to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with his Lord (Micah 6:8). And I pray that he will maintain his joyful outlook on life, continue to laugh, and walk boldly in to the future, not fearful but confident in who he is. Because he is a great guy.  

Happy Birthday, young man and Happy Graduation.  I am so proud of you and so thankful to be your mom. I celebrate you!

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