The last 5 months have been the best of my life. On October 20th at 7 pounds 1 ounce our baby boy Ronin Peter Ryan was born! The months before and the months since have shifted our lives in more beautiful and amazing ways than I could ever imagine and I’m left with a vast sense of awe at the majesty of God’s blessing in motion. It goes without saying that life has been insanely busy as my wife and I have fought to keep up with all of the change. However, in the midst of it all, I’ve found myself again and again coming back to one unique reflection.
One sheep, two sheep…
I’ve been losing a little sleep lately. Over the last few months I’ve come to realize that my new son, Ronin is a lot like New York City: he has tons of personality but he never sleeps. However, the upside to infant induced insomnia is that I’ve had ample time to reflect on the overwhelming blessing of parenthood. Being a parent is somewhat like gaining a superpower, and I’m quickly learning that with great power must also come great responsibility. And while these responsibilities often manifest themselves in the privilege of seeing my young boy smile, squirm and coo, I’m also astutely aware that every superhero has a villain. For now this villain appears as intense gas, assaulting my little guy with gnarly poopy diapers and 4 am fussiness.
Over time however, this villain seems to grow more sophisticated and as children grow it develops new strategies for attack. Infant gas attacks morph into a myriad of insecurities and insufficiencies as a child grows, eventually developing into a full blown war by the time they are a teenager. By that time, most youth are besieged by the evolved tactics of this enemy as they struggle with deep issues of abandonment, loneliness, and fear of failure.
But there is hope.
The pain of the gas may indeed overwhelm my little guy, but that’s where I come in. As his daddy, I have been charged with the responsibility of defeating this foe and restoring joy and comfort to my boy. In the same vain, the villains of our youth are not without their vulnerabilities. However, these villains too can only be defeated through the power that comes with cooperate parenthood. Abandonment and insecurity can be conquered when we band together as parents for those children and youth within our midst. Deuteronomy 11 is a beautiful reflection of this as God reminds the Israelites of the ways in which he helped them to overcome various obstacles because he is their Father.
As the Lord points out starting in verse 5, ““Your children didn’t see how the Lord cared for you in the wilderness until you arrived here… But you have seen the Lord perform all these mighty deeds with your own eyes… So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine… Teach them to your children… so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.”
Three sheep, four sheep…
It’s been keeping me awake thinking of all of the foes out there in the world, lurking in the shadows, waiting to attack my son or the children of our community. But when they do, I will be prepared. God has given us the responsibility to care for children and youth by bringing us into the divine role of parents, but we have not been left without a tactic ourselves. With great power comes great responsibility, and the power that we have been given to vanquish these enemies is itself the power of the one true God. Our father in heaven guides us throughout our role as parents so that we may confidently conquer any villain which may strike at our children. Through his power we may have peace and, although it may not come with much sleep, we may rest in the notion that our father paves the way for us in our roles as parents.