As is my habit before going to bed each night, I walk through the house making sure everything is secure and lights are off. By this time, the girls have been in bed a couple of hours, and my wife has retired to our bedroom to read or have a go at another Sudoku puzzle. As I go through my routine, the house gets darker and darker until I can barely see my way down the hall to our daughters' bedroom. I flip on the hall light, open their door, and make sure they are OK. They are always OK. Sometimes covers have fallen off and need to be replaced, or one of them has moved precariously close to the edge of the bed and needs to be moved, but for the most part, they are perfectly sound asleep without fear or care.
In the quiet moment just before I turn around and head to my room, I thank God for them.
It is a silent prayer of thanks that God would give me such beautiful wonderful little girls, and an acknowledgement that these gifts from God also come with a responsibility. When our daughters were born, my wife and I made a decision to "give them back to God" so to speak. It was our way of deciding to dedicate our lives to doing our best to teach them, discipline them, and raise them to honor God with their lives. Understanding we are not perfect, we pray for God's intervention where we would fail, and we try to remember that taking the time to train them to do what is right is worth any price, because they belong to God.
My wife and I were talking recently about one of them and a particularly bad habit that seems to be developing. Without going into details, we agreed that the next time this particular behavior showed itself, we would deal with it immediately and together to make sure the message "This is not OK" would be perfectly understood. We talked about different ways it might show up, and it was mentioned that it may even present itself in the store when I'm not around. I told my wife, "If it happens in the store, or even when you are walking toward the checkout line in the store, stop and come right back home. If you have to leave a basket full of groceries in the aisle, or give up the perfect parking space, bring her home right then and we will deal with it." We agreed that it would certainly make an impression, but also we agreed that our child is worth it.
"She is worth an hour of time and $10 in gas," I said as my wife and I wrapped up the conversation. Problem is, I can only hope other parents feel the same way as my daughters are going to one day marry, and I hope they find mates that had parents willing to take the time for them. My children belong to God. One of them has already accepted Christ as her Savior, the other has yet to make that choice, but she is still very young yet. As we continue to teach her, we also pray that she will one day make the choice to accept Christ as well. However, once they have made that choice, our job as parents is far from over. If we are to raise them in the way God would want us to, we have to be willing to make sacrifices and make the time for them, even when it is most inconvenient.
Years from now, if I choose not to take the time and my children do not turn out right, my thoughts will come back to moments like these. Moments where I chose not to take the time or waste the gas to correct them, times where I was too busy to do something else, and I will have to live with the knowledge that I could have done more. I'd rather not. So instead, I will choose to put the world on hold, to take the time to correct them, and to let them know the whole reason I do so is because I truly care for them and love them, and that they are worth much more to me than an hour and $10 in gas.