Like a Gothic Cathedral

As we have lived in New York the last few years, we have met some of the most interesting people and have been blessed to be invited into the lives of some of the families at Eli’s school. One of the families at Eli’s school owns a few restaurants in the city and has found themselves in a habit of renovating spaces either for home, leisure or restaurants.

Last spring break, we were discussing renovation, the challenges, setbacks, and even how it can become an addiction to bring something from a tough place to a beautiful venue. I made the comment that kids often seem like the never ending renovation project, always looking to bring out more and more of their excellence.

He laughed and then while describing his daughter said, “She’s like a gothic cathedral if I were to compare her to a renovation project.”

What a beautiful vision for your child. I was inspired and encouraged to think through the analogy and continue to think it’s a beautiful approach in viewing your children.

Many renovation projects are fully gutting the place and starting from scratch, but you would never do that with a gothic cathedral. You would carefully seek to restore the fine details while trying not to destroy or harm the fine details that make the cathedral so glorious. It would be a long, and at times painful, process to reveal the beauty that has been established within and bring it out to display as it was intended.

It seems the same with kids. A long, at times painful, process of seeking their joy and helping them be established in who they were made to be. This beautiful vision has led me to think through how I view my own kids and shows me how my view of them shapes my approach to them.

What’s my vision for my kids?

Approaching my children with a vision towards them being similar to a gothic cathedral in need of renovation would dramatically change my approach than if I viewed them as a broken down house in need of being completely rebuilt. It’s a long process to raise kids and patience is essential to not crush the potential beauty that needs to shine through the messier parts of parenting.

This forces me to recognize the great need for careful instruction and refining discipline that (I hope) would be received as trustworthy wisdom to increase their joy and confidence in life.

Now, this type of vision could also crush them if I demand it to be a reality instead of a hope. I could crush my sons and daughter under the weight of expectations when setbacks in their life happen. In renovations, setbacks happen all the time, there’s not a single construction or renovation project that hasn’t had mistakes or delays. My children will make mistakes, but they don’t need to be defined by them in my eyes or their own.

I also don’t want to thrust my dreams for their lives onto them as expectations. This where the renovation project becomes a blur since the finished project isn’t set in stone and there is no blueprint. How do you renovate a gothic cathedral when you don’t know what it is supposed to look like? This is one of the most challenging parts of parenting, seeing great potential in your kids and knowing it could turn out a thousand different ways.

Focusing on Character over Results

This has led me to try and center in on my children’s character instead of what they will be one day. I don’t know what job or life Eli will pursue one day, but I know his character now can be refined and enhanced to make him a man of great character one day.

Similar to a renovation that seeks to fortify the foundations and structure of a building, this involves looking to the roots and motivations for his actions. I’ve asked a lot more questions that make statements as Eli has grown up to learn about how he views the world. I can’t assume he sees everything like I do and I continue to be fascinated by how his mind processed the world around him. These conversations are my favorite part of parenting and they typically happen away from the formal family times.

This conversation with our family friends happened months ago, but it continues to stick with me as I consider my role as a father seeking to disciple his children in Christ and raise them to thrive in current culture. I find myself at a loss for the next stage of renovation, but have found myself seeking God so much more.

I desire for my kids to love and deeply know God as the source of joy and to spend their lives honoring Jesus through loving and thriving in their home life, work life, and church life. I desire my boys to become great men and my daughter to be a glorious woman like her mom. I’m an idealist, but I know the reality that this aim in parenting will take more time, patience, and intention than I give anything else. The journey excites me while increasing my anxiety, but thankfully I hope in the one God able to do more than I can even imagine for my children.

My only hope is God

As a Christian, I find my wisdom from God’s word. The Proverbs have been a place where I have camped out in regards to seeking wisdom in parenting, not to mention the way the scriptures bring a peace that I can’t really describe. Through the Proverbs, wisdom is given to children, parents, and people in how to deal anger, relationships, money, planning for the future and so much more.

As I think about all that I’d like to see my sons and daughter become as well as the many broken ways of living that I would like them to avoid, I simply find myself in prayer. Simply surveying my own life over the last decade has revealed how much God has provided that I could not have expected and many times through prayer. How much more can I expect the Maker of all things to be able to accomplish more in the lives of my children that I can even dream for them.

I love the vision of seeing my children as an epic gothic cathedral and I get the privilege of renovating it, revealing it’s beauty and character to enable it to thrive as it was intended. My God help Amber and I to love our kids in this way.

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