Marti pointed out that I may have been a little too hard on Chandler in my Catch last Friday, especially in light of so many of you who have followed his story and loved him and cared about him from a distance. It is Marti and I, not Chandler, who should be owning our failures. It’s not that Chandler was being good and now he’s being bad; it’s that we all have something to learn here and we have only just begun.
Chandler has gone from a strict, highly-scheduled and supervised program to being home where he has a sense of ownership and freedom. I have gone from being a traveling sidekick to being the maker and enforcer of rules, and I simply don’t know how to do that without turning my love off. It was so much easier when the discipline was coming from an outside source leaving us free to be loving, supportive parents. Now I’m back to being a cop and I’ve never made a good one.
How does God love and discipline at the same time? I’ve never figured that out without just switching hats, and I’ve never worn my policeman hat very well. In fact, my kids have had a tendency to find my policeman getup a little silly.
I think God does it with the cross. The cross humbled Him and brought Him down to our sin. He understands. He doesn’t excuse us, but He understands what we are up against, and He can forgive us when we confess our sin. So when I try to be a policeman without embracing my own sin and failure — my own cross — I am distant and insensitive.
What is happening with Chandler now is one of his greatest battles, scheduled to unwind from his soul and take place out in the open air in the fullness of time. Marti was born with about six of these battles in her soul, and out they came, in turn, and it was devastating. I have had about this number … you, too. And Chandler gets his. Feeling that we have failed him is completely understandable and not true, but true, at the same time.
We need to take back our job — not a judgment on our characters, but a showing up or not, with the presence or absence of love. It is important that we persist, that we not collapse in the responsibility for Chandler’s life passages and dark turns. Our attempts at love are deeply flawed. I have lived without it; Chandler did not have to. I’ve learned how powerful this is. The power is, not to prevent dark turns as the soul breaks out and has its way and its wars; the power is in the something known to come back to when you come to your senses. Mainly it’s a matter, for Chandler, of living long enough to do that. I think he will, and largely because we take back our responsibility as his parents and act on it.
Without Chandler, there is an abyss in our lives. It is one life, one child — our Chandler. All we ever need to confirm our decision as parents is one look at his smiling face and all doubts are banished. Whatever else is threatening to dominate our attention pales in comparison. Love is the reason, and I think that, partly by design, God has made it so that we see this most clearly in our children.