When I was 17, I said I would never have children. My nephews had lived at home with my family since I was 14, and I was tired of kids. Then I met my wife a couple of years later and things changed. Fast forward 14 years and my wife and I just welcomed our third child and first girl into the world. Meet Katherine Claire Lassiter, named after her beautiful mother, Sarah Katherine.
This is my third go round with having a child, and every time I find myself choking back tears in the hospital room as nurses and doctors are speaking to me. I look at that precious child and only faintly realize how amazing this really is, and only faintly realize how much my life has now changed. When we had our first, George, I remember thinking there is no way I could love another child this much. Then we had Henry, and I realized how much room I had in my heart for another. Then we had Katherine and I learned the same lesson. I love these 3 kids more than I could state in words. Or, as George tries to say, I love them “to the moon and the back”.
So I have been thinking a lot this week about 3 kids and what that looks like. What do I want to see happen in their lives? What do I want them to know? What do I want them to be like? I find I get really worked up when they don’t listen and obey, because I know what is best for them. I get really worked up when the toys are scattered around the house because clutter drives me nuts (I’m mildly OCD, which mixes with toddlers like fire and gasoline). I get really worked up when they don’t eat their food because I know the importance of nutrition.
Then I got to thinking, is that really what I want most for them? If these are the things I talk and care about the most, are their thoughts and memories going to be that Daddy cared mostly about their behavior, nutrition, and cleanliness? “Did Daddy care most about our obedience and behavior, or about us?” To think that my kids may one day ask that question haunts me.
I am also thinking about what our doctor told me right after Katherine was born. He reminded me that my children’s view of God is greatly shaped by me. I would add to that is greatly shaped by my wife as well. How our children view God likely starts with how they view us. I’ve been thinking about that as well as a thought one of my mentors and friends Mike Cope shared with me. Mike has told me that our (America, the West, etc.) parenting seems most concerned with obedience and behavior modification. Mike wants our kids to know first and foremost how deeply they are loved. Mike wants our kids to know that at the end of it all, Mama and Daddy and home are a loving and grace-filled place they can go. Yes there is obedience, but this isn’t the central concern.
I like that. I want that for my children. I’m thinking that I will try and let that rule my thoughts and heart when I’m tempted to always fight obedience battles with toddlers.
I pray every day that my children will know how much they are loved by their mother and me, and as a result they will know how deeply they are loved by God. The kind of love that Paul says is unavoidable and inescapable, even in death.
My kids will know about obedience. They’ll know I care about that. They’ll know I wanted them to learn and do the right thing. They’ll know that there was punishment when they didn’t. But first and foremost, I want them to associate Mama and Daddy with a deep, unending, inescapable love. And in turn, I want them to see at the center of the character of God is One who is slow to anger, merciful, compassionate, and abounding in steadfast love.
So welcome to the family Katherine. I hope that you, Henry, and George all know how much your Mama and Daddy love you. No matter where you go or what you do, that love never runs out on you.