On a recent night, I read "The Braveheart Life" by Randall Wallace. I enjoyed Randall's vignette-style storytelling. He spun together his own life and the story of the movie Braveheart, whose screenplay he wrote.
One thing I notice about exceptional people is that they rarely realize they are exceptional, and often make the mistake of assuming the exceptional things about themselves are normal. This tends to lead to tremendous disappointment and pain in interactions with others.
Randall is clearly an exceptional person. Like all such people, the clues of being different are strewn about his whole life in a way that is abundantly evident from speaking with him for just a few minutes. (I have never met Randall Wallace, but I would very much like to. I bought the book after watching this interview).
One portion of his book that struck me was a story about his father, who faced certain hardships in life. Paraphrasing, Randall felt that his father would have gladly taken upon himself the hardships he struggled with if he had only known how his doing so would benefit his children by giving them an example of how to face hard things.
That sentence struck me. I have often considered how my experiences will help those who go through similar things after, and it has very much been a source of strength.
I think this idea is a powerful one for all people--all who love others. Of course, Jesus tells us to love all people, so this idea should be applicable to all people in all situations.
But in particular, I wanted to write a quick note to fathers.
When I think about my children and the exigencies they will face, I want to do everything I can to make life as beneficial to them as I can. There is no limit to what I am willing to suffer if it will benefit them. I don't think I am alone in this. How great our opportunity to stand up and bear the weight of the world, if for no other reason, than that when our children (particularly our sons) reach maturity, they have the strength of knowing that, no matter how hard things get, they can find strength in knowing that they are not alone, and so that they have a pattern to follow.
How important it is that we, as fathers, live lives that we would be proud to see our children (particularly our sons) live. This, to me, is a strong motivator to avoid the many opportunities I have to take it easy or cut a corner or do less than my best. If all the self-denial and suffering and striving one man can bear makes it just a little easier for my sons to face one specific difficulty in their lives, I am willing to do bear it.
Is this not the spirit of Christ?
I think all of these things are applicable for fathers and mothers, and sons and daughters, but I speak here from my own perspective.
The next time you are struggling to do what you know is best, even if you aren't willing to do what is right for yourself, and even if you aren't willing to do it for God, consider your children, and do it for them.