Parent has many hopes for his child's future
Early in the morning on Wednesday, March 6, my wife and I found out that in nine months short time, we will welcome a new child into the world. As I write this article, we're 26 weeks in and the questions are steadily rolling in from family, friends, and the congregation I serve. The questions may not always use the word explicitly, but they all revolve around hope.
Do you hope it will be a boy or a girl? Do you hope it will be a preacher? Do you think the child will play sports? Become a musician? An artist? A writer? These questions have allowed me to reflect about my hopes for my future child. Here they are:
I hope our child will not be defined by his or her gender. One of the first decisions we made was to keep the sex of our child a mystery until it is born. The questions usually follow: How will you prepare? How will you know what color to paint the room? How will you know what clothes to buy? How will you know what toys to purchase? Our response is usually the same, "We're having a child first, not a gender."
I hope for those brief few seconds when our child is emerging, it can enjoy those rare moments of living without gender stereotype or bias. I hope our child will be able to pursue the career it desires, wear the clothes it wants, and participate in the extracurricular activities it enjoys whether or not they reflect his or her traditional gender roles.
I hope our child will embrace diversity. I hope our child will be able to appreciate the cultural heritage of another race without judging them by the color of their skin. I hope our child will have opportunities to travel, throughout West Virginia, across the United States and around the world, so it might grow to appreciate the blessings and struggles of other people. I hope our child will be open-minded and kindhearted. I hope it will see issues from another's point of view, walk a mile in someone else's shoes and journey across party lines to bring people together. I hope our child will have the confidence to speak up when its voice needs to be heard, and the patience to listen to another, as true dialogue requires both.
I hope our child will embrace and be comfortable with its sexuality and body image. If our child is straight or LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender), I hope it understands it is made in the image and likeness of God, just like everyone else. If our child is questioning, I hope it will see us as discussion partners instead of voices to avoid. I hope my wife and I are brave and open enough to talk with our child at an appropriate age about all things sex: the decision about when to become sexually active, contraceptive options, sexually transmitted diseases, healthy relationships and hopes for their future. No matter what our child looks like (skinny/heavy, short/tall, crooked teeth or straight, blond/redhead/brunette), I hope it knows that he or she is beautiful and wonderfully made.
As we plan to have our child dedicated in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and plan to raise it in a Christian household, I hope our child will always know the love of God. I hope our child will ask questions, embrace mystery and revel in wonder. I hope our child will strive for justice, spread compassion and share the love of God through actions and words. I hope our child will see other faith traditions as conversation partners instead of religious adversaries. Should our child embrace Islam, I hope it will teach me about the Five Pillars. If our child embraces Judaism, I hope it will open the Hebrew Scriptures to me in a new way. If our child follows a Buddhist path, I hope it will lead me in the pathways of meditation and contemplation. If our child walks away from God and religion completely, I hope it will still respect and support the ministerial calling to which I have made vows.
I hope for myself that I am not projecting my own hopes and dreams upon my future child. I hope I will always respond to my child's mistakes and shortcomings with grace. The week my wife found out she was pregnant, Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 was the Gospel reading in the lectionary; the story of the Prodigal Child. I hope that when my child turns wayward, in ways small and large, and seeks to return, that I will have the grace of the Welcoming Parent, and my child will know the abundant love of God.
The Rev. Kevin Snow is pastor of Central Christian Church in Huntington.
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