Being a father of boys is difficult. Sure there are the annoying things: having to listen to the song “What Does a Fox Say?” over and over, constantly reminding them the living room is not the place to perfect their football Brazilian Flick, having to explain why it is inappropriate to have their hands down their shorts while sitting around the living room, finding out that they have been practicing headers with a dog poo smeared football (soccer ball), and explaining that homework isn’t “optional” even though their friends claim it is. (All these things happened to me today while I was trying to write this blog!)
When I say “difficult,” none of the stuff that I mentioned really comes to mind. Rather, “difficult” would be a better way to explain things that are out of my control. Helping them work through the emotional body slams they receive at school, the disappointments they face in being a part of a sports team, the deep questions they can’t quite voice in regards to faith and their relationship with God.
We’ve lived in Scotland for a little over a year now and our budget has been very tight. We are basically funded by student loans, a few faithful supporters and my very part-time job. I’m not complaining, in fact Melodie (my wife) and I very thankful for what God has already given us and how he continues to provide for our needs. The boys don’t quite understand our financial circumstances. They look around and see their friends enjoying some if the superfluous advantages of life. Their friends see the latest movies, have the coolest phones, play the latest xbox games, have season tickets to the local football team, etc. It’s hard to explain to the boys that we just can’t afford these things, especially when they aren’t included in the conversations or excitement that other kids share. Sure these are teachable moments and hopefully my boys will grow up knowing the passing value of the material things this world has to offer, but still, I wish we had the resources to buffer some of the finically strain and help ease the transition here.
I guess that is where one aspect of the difficulty lies. I could live in a tent, surviving off canned soup for the next three years and be content (showering optional). My wife and boys, on the other hand, need certain amenities that will not only nurture their body but also their soul. It’s difficult to maintain the balance between providing the necessities for your family and using the resources God has granted you to find enjoyment in life. It’s difficult to understand myself let alone explain it to my kids.
Having a calling like this is strange, I’m still sorting it out myself. The last thing I want is to burden my family with hardships, if Melodie and I weren’t sure God is in this it wouldn’t be worth it. This has been and will continue to be an experience that has tightly knitted our family together in a very interesting season. God has moved amongst our family despite the difficulties we face. I never imagined talking about difficult issues like sex while walking 30 minutes to the store with my oldest son. I never wanted to have to console my kids because they were being teased or bullied for being Americans. Situations like these have driven us together and continue to strengthen our family ties.
The bottom line is we are extremely blessed to here in Scotland; to have this experience that will define our family for years to come. We don’t have a car or much money but we are blessed! Melodie and I have witnessed God sort out many difficulties and the boys are starting to understand that there is something more to our journeys here than Dad just getting another degree!