Family life is one of change. Sometimes we are prepared for it, and sometimes not. Often we think we are ready, only to find reality far different from expectation.
When we find ourselves expecting the first child, we scurry around trying to do all we can to be ready for that change. We buy clothes, furniture, paint, and even books. We so want to be ready for the child to come into the world; only when she comes, we can’t believe how hard it is to console an infant who can’t tell you where it hurts.
It feels like they are children forever, and then one day you wake up and find teenagers who can’t get out of bed on Saturday before 11am. On top of that, they start to look and sound a lot more like adults than children. We might have bought a book on the teenage years before it happened, but most of us never had such forethought.
We are not prepared to fight with a teenager (perhaps, at least, not with the first one). Far too many of us fathers were not anywhere near ready to give away our daughter to some still-wet-behind-the-ears-but-thinks-he’s-a-man boy. But let’s not pin all of our troubles on the children.
How about that spouse who found 30 plus pounds suddenly spread around his midsection? Wrinkles and age spots—those were supposed to be just for the grandparents. Then we suddenly realize, we are grandparents! It is almost too much.
Family change is an inevitable and irresistible force, ever threatening to destabilize us. It would be foolish to pray that all would remain the same. As Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 teaches us, there is a time for everything, implying that every circumstance will change at some point for a different purpose.
We would do well to help our children understand that change will be a constant and that it is not something to fear or rail against. Surely we’ve seen too many adults who inappropriately avoid change or over react to the challenges change brings. But such teaching is more effectively lived than spoken. We can live this lesson by being constant in our faith and happy in God’s providences. This lesson is also found in the book of Ecclesiastes.
May these two attitudes—consistency in our faith and happiness in God’s providences—be on a fairly consistent display before our family.