We don’t always get to see the results of our encouragement, but sometimes we get lucky.
I spent last week visiting my eldest son and his family outside Detroit.
Although our family separated twenty plus years ago, somewhere along the way we decided that we would all benefit from getting together as a family, albeit temporarily. So we all gathered together to share some time together.
We planned a week of simple day trips, lunches and dinners together, time to be with grandchildren and our son and his wife.
It was busy. The boys, ages 11 and 6 are perpetual motion machines, brimming with the joy of action and discovery. They are happy kids with happy parents. The whole week passed without one cross word- from anyone.
There was one particular time near the beginning of that week when I became aware of what terrific parents my son and his wife had become. We’re not talking about perfection in any way but rather the essence of how they translate their love to their children.
There are no outbursts of temper, just quiet yet positive correction with lots of love.
In one moment, I watched my son playing with his little guy, enjoying his humor and sharing a special moment. It was one of the most rewarding things I came away with on my trip.
We all try so hard to help our kids become good adults. We work to prepare them, to teach them how to navigate, how to treat others, how to live. We almost never succeed all the way and don’t expect perfection.
In that moment, I saw a kind of perfection. It was the action of love and encouragement shared between a father and son in their affectionate exchange and banter, the way they interacted. It continued through the week. I noticed it with my daughter-in-law as well. The attention she shares, the planning ahead, the understanding of how to encourage the interests of her children make her the outstanding mother she is.
Best of all they know who they are and what they want. They are comfortable in their own skins and that may be the best gift of all. It’s what we work for, worry about, pray for and then just sit back and hope that it will all work out.
All the time spent teaching them, times when it all seemed quite hopeless – especially when they were teenagers- was made worth it by that one moment of awareness. It came full circle.
I’m thinking that one of the lessons here is that we have to know that we encourage others because it makes the world better whether we get to see the results of it or not. We have to know that we have a chance every, single day to make an impact.
It we start each day knowing that and working towards that, we may create a much more joyful state.
It’s worth a try.