Another Letter to My Future Children: I Will Not Have a Parental Gag Reflex

August 28, 2013

Dear Child,

It’s me again, your future Dad.  I still don’t know when you’ll show up, but I think about you a lot these days.  I want you to know that I’ve been praying for you.

Parents have a lot of things to pray about when it comes to their kids.  There are prayers said for health, and for protection as you take more risks in the world.  You’ll bump and scrape your knees.  A few bones will probably get broken.  Your heart will definitely get broken at least once or twice.

But these days, I’ve been thinking most not just about the kind of child you will be, but the kind of adult you will become many years from now.  Will you be a man or woman of great faith and courage?  Will you be compassionate and gentle?  Will you lead others or create great things with your life?

I have great dreams for you.  But I am worried that you will allow someone to convince you that you are not worthy.

A Gospel of Gagging

See, I’ve had this nagging little thought in my head lately.

There is a great argument a lot of adults are having these days.  You see, a lot of adults spend a lot of energy arguing endlessly about how other adults live their lives.  They argue about “lifestyles” and what is acceptable and what is not.  They use scripture to try to prove what God thinks about everyone else, but they don’t get very far in winning any converts.

Some adults in the world think that other people are not just unacceptable, but disgusting.  They say that other people make them want to “gag.”  When I read the scriptures, I don’t notice Jesus gagging and retching at adulterers and prostitutes.  But some people today think that being a Christian means being being disgusted by other people, treating other people with irredeemable contempt.

It’s strange to me that in the same week that someone can publish such things, someone else can publish something that is so infinitely more redeeming, true and necessary.  But that is the world we live in.

One Thing I Will Never Do

Child, I do not know anything about you.  But I know that you will inherit the same fallen and sinful nature that I have.  Yes, you will be broken, but I won’t have to tell you that.  You will come to realize it on your own in the quiet of your prayers.

I can guess that there will be times that I have to discipline you.  There will be times I will be sad for you.  And there will be times when I am disappointed in the choices you make.  I will believe that some of the choices you make are wrong.  That’s what makes parenting a gamble.  I don’t know what kind of person you will turn out to be.  When you grow up, I may not agree with the beliefs you believe or the lifestyle you live…

…But I will never tell you that you “disgust” or “repulse” me.  I will never “gag” at you.  I may gag over poopy diapers, but I will not gag over you.  I will never treat you with contempt, no matter how you live your life, whether I approve or not.

I will always embrace you as my child.

Everyone Is Someone’s Child

I worry because I will not be able to protect you from the world.  You see, no matter what choices you make, what kind of life you live, some people will think you are wrong.  I worry that they will find you, and convince you that God does not love you.  I am afraid that some people will be able to convince you to hate yourself.

I suspect that such people are able to say what they say because they forget the fact that the person they are scorning is someone else’s child.  The person who makes them want to “gag” is someone else’s son or daughter.  They would surely not want their own children treated the way they so easily treat other people’s children.

Furthermore, we so easily forget that all of “our” children do not really belong to us.  You will be made in my image with my DNA, but your soul is made in God’s image.  God will create, preserve, and redeem your soul.  I will just be your human parent.  And so I am not just bound to treat you as I wish to, but by how God wants his children to be treated.

And for the life of me, I cannot fathom how any of us can bring ourselves to treat God’s children with disgust or contempt?

3 responses to Another Letter to My Future Children: I Will Not Have a Parental Gag Reflex

  1. As always, thanks, Matt. Adoption has taught me some of these ideas in ways I never would have learned without. That loving our children, and others, uncondtionally, could be the most important work any of us ever do.
    Jeremy Statton recently posted..Because You Never Know

  2. Awesome post, Matt.

    Sometimes I feel like a goodly portion of my patient population is made up of folks who have been screwed over by the people who were supposed to love them. Yes, few people wind up in the care of an HIV specialist without making a bad decision somewhere. But, for too many of these guys, their families seem to have a stronger gag reflex than a capacity for love–*that’s* what usually leads to the drugs and the partying and the random hookups.

    This line of work has forced me to think about what I would do if one of my own kids turned out to be gay. I certainly wouldn’t react like the parents of many of my patients, that’s for sure.

  3. Beautiful. You’re kids are going to be blessed to have you as a dad.
    ThatGuyKC recently posted..A wocket in my pocket