…was a child

He was as happy as only boy at play can be.

He was swinging on a make-shift swing on a short tree a few feet outside the front door to the shack his family lived in. His swinging was ferocious. He was placing every ounce of his effort into it.

The motion of the swing caught my eye as we were driving through a mountain village along the Djiboutian countryside. It’s not the kind of living conditions most Americans would choose, but it’s normal here. Simple. Primitive. Practical. Small huts are bunched together close to the commerce center of the village. Personal lawns, a luxury mostly for American homes, are impractical as well as impossible in this rocky desert terrain. Any relatively fertile soil – that doesn’t consist of a top layer of centuries-old lava rock stacked above 18-24 inches of dirt/rock – is used for a community garden. The larger lava rocks are moved aside to establish pathways between the huts and through the village.

Those trails surround this boy’s hut. He is playing alone. He is happy. The truth is, soon his days of play will end. He will enter the workforce as an adolescent and work for the rest of his life if he is fortunate…leaving his childhood behind.

In contrast, back home in America, sociologists and anthropologists have noted that during the past 30 years, adolescence has functionally extended into the mid-20’s. Essentially, we are a nation with the reasoning capacity and self-expectation of maturity as that of a teenager. We package “youth” as a virtue in itself and see adults jettisoning commitment, maturity, wisdom, sacrifice, responsibility, and loyalty for the misconception of reliving or extending the perception of their own youth.

Youth loses its value if it is perpetual. Childhood becomes counterfeit if it is continuous.

“You who are young, make the most of your youth. Relish your youthful vigor. Follow the impulses of your heart. If something looks good to you, pursue it. But know also that not just anything goes; You have to answer to God for every last bit of it. Ecclesiastes 11:9 (Message translation)

It is with this perspective that I cherish my time with Gabe. Since he’s a four-year old, I encourage him to play as hard as he can, like the boy in the swing. I want him to cherish his time as a boy, yet eventually anticipate his transition to manhood. It will be bittersweet to watch my beautiful little boy grow into manhood, rather than chasing the shadow of his childhood like Peter Pan, refusing to grow up.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)

Only through learning responsibility, loyalty, sacrifice, trustworthiness, discipline, and the value of every era of our lives can we truly value every passing day and each passing era.

(Word of the Week 22-28FEB)  #WOTDseries #Drop14

Persist

v. to continue a course of action in spite of difficulty, opposition, fear, boredom, apathy, etc.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~Winston Churchill

“The lesson is, the rewards in life don’t always go to the biggest, or the bravest, or the smartest. The rewards go to the dogged; and when your going though hell, to the person who just keeps going.” ~Bear Grylls

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” ~Romans 12:21

In what do you need to persist?

(Word of the Week 01-07FEB) #WOTDseries #Drop13

Azimuth

right-direction“It is a mistake to think moving fast is the same as actually going somewhere.” ~Steve Goodier

“Lack of direction , not lack of time, is the problem.” ~ Zig Ziglar

“Focus is about saying ‘no.'” ~ Steve Jobs

“Give careful thought to the paths of your feet and be steadfast in your ways.” ~ Proverbs 4:26

It’s is easiest to lose focus and sense of direction and purpose during the middle of an endeavor. The halfway point encounters a slump in motivation and enthusiasm. We’re past the excitement of the beginning but not near the thrill of the finish line.

It is during the “middle” in which we must stay focused, stay on azimuth, and keep putting one foot in front of the other without getting distracted. Often this involves saying “no” to those small distractions that lure us off course

(Word of the Week  15-21FEB) #WOTDseries #Drop12