I cry easily. I cry over movies, books, and commercials … I cry on behalf of total strangers I read about online … I cry when animals are rescued from a cruel fate … I cry when I laugh really hard … you get the picture.
I also cry when I feel overwhelmed. Including feeling overwhelmed with joy.
When each of my children was around 5 years old, we did a “Names of Jesus” unit together during our Advent homeschool time. Each day we would focus on a different name that Jesus is called in the Bible, such as shepherd, king, Alpha and Omega, or light of the world. Each lesson had an activity, craft, or lesson associated with it, most of which I’ve forgotten now … except for the object lesson I used for “Light of the World.”
To begin this lesson, we would look at Bible verses together such as John 9:5, where Jesus says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” It was very clear to even a young child that Jesus understood his role in the world as a light to shine in the darkness. I then proposed that we go into the darkest room in the house, a small bathroom with no windows. Always eager to get up and move, and intrigued by continuing the lesson in the bathroom (of all places!), each child would eagerly comply.
In one of the most famous first lines in literature, Leo Tolstoy boldly states, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Now, I haven’t read Anna Karenina, but I can say with confidence that, while he certainly captured our attention and still has us quoting him after nearly 150 years, he is wrong about happy families being all alike (although they may look that way from the outside). But he has a point about unhappy families.
Unhappy families can have an endless number of reasons why they are unhappy, and many of us are sadly familiar with one of them: generational sins (a.k.a. generational trauma or generational dysfunction). This is the tendency of persistent sinful behaviors to be repeated or “handed down” from one generation to the next, contributing to the unhappiness of that family and its individual members. This might be a particular problem with one member of the family, or an overall environment that permeates the day-to-day life and outlook of each person.
That one kid.
The one who’s been pulling away his entire life. The one who blended in with the rest of the family at first but then subtly, in small but unmistakable ways, began distancing himself until he was fully in his own orbit, still revolving around us but always looking outward toward more interesting stars, more exciting galaxies.
That one baby.
The one who saw an obstacle in front of him (a no-frills, first-generation Exersaucer) and unlike his siblings who carefully and wisely crawled around it, plowed unhesitatingly right through it, to get to the other side in the quickest way possible. The one who refused to be quietly cuddled and read to before bedtime, instead wanting to ride his push car around and around and around the open floor plan of our house, endlessly going and going … anywhere.
That one toddler.
The one in the picture above, who walked early, and right away I saw that this would be my view of him from now on: one hand out to steady himself, one hand holding a useful tool, and a determined stance that kept him moving inexorably away from me, on his own path. Who, at two and three and four, straddled the arm of the couch in full western gear, singing cowboy songs and announcing that he was moving to Texas to herd cattle, or maybe Montana.