In my younger years, I was the kind of guy who believed that changing other people’s attitudes and behaviors would make the world a better place. If only so-and-so would let others speak once in a while; if what’s-her-name would keep her political opinions to herself — or change to my political opinions. I think you get the picture.
Marriage, of course, took a little of the edge off this way of thinking, simply because I had to learn to accept different ideals and different ways of doing things, or get used to sleeping on a broken-down couch that was not adequate in length, width or back support. (Sounds like I know a little bit about that couch, eh?) Lessons that began with married life were perfected in the arrival of four sons over the ensuing years.
For example, I arrived home from work one afternoon, weary and drenched in sweat. My wife greeted me at the door, but as she spoke, a din erupted in our basement family room.
Having heard this sound before, I shouted down the stairway, “Hey!” (It got very quiet.)
“Are you guys jumping on that furniture again?”
Eric, the eldest, wandered out into the stairwell, with bowed head, slowly turning his face to me.
“Yes,” he replied.
(‘He sounds penitent,’ I thought to myself. ‘This is good.’)
“If I catch you guys jumping on that furniture again, there are going to be some sore rear ends around here, and four sad boys in this house! Do you understand me?”
“Yes,” said Eric with a renewed lilt in his voice as he ran back into the room.
I turned to my wife, and said smugly, “That’s how you discipline kids. You show them who’s the boss. You put them in their place.”
As I was speaking, we could hear a series of mechanical clicks, several beeps running together at high speed and muffled laughter, followed by a tinny version of my own voice: “If I catch you guys jumping on that furniture again, there are going to be some sore rear ends around here, and four sad boys in this house!”
They had recorded me on a Fisher-Price tape recorder. They hit “replay” and the laughter grew.
Through our family’s formative years and beyond, we experienced many more challenges, of course, many more laughs, and a whole lot of tears, fears and apprehensions.
But “the lesson” remains invaluable: there is just one heart in all the world that I can change — and it is mine. Easy to do? NO! But with God’s guidance, patience, and mercy it is possible. With God, everything is possible.
For example, Eric and his wife, Jenny, brought four beautiful children into the world; two boys and two girls. Hunter is the oldest, and he’s very much like his father. Very much.
(God answers prayers.)
Curt Hanson, Director of Stewardship and Development, Diocese of Saint Cloud