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In 1994, my dad introduced me to a friend of his and mentioned that I was engaged. My dad’s friend, with humor and kindness, told me, “Ah, yes. Marriage. There’s nothing like marriage to show you who you really are. Smokes you right out.” All these years, I’ve retained the image of a small frenzied mammal running back and forth in his tunnel until he finally pops out of his back door–heaving, exposed, and vulnerable–to gulp the fresh air. Except in my case, it was not marriage, but parenthood that really smoked me out.
Christian blogger and author Tim Challies expressed it best when he described some challenges of being a parent as “muddling through.” Yes–we can read all the books, survey parents we admire, attend Love and Logic conferences, determine to be kinder and gentler, ask for help on Facebook. Yet, few children arrive as a neat, predictable package. Each comes as a unique little creature, a complete person, yet pre-loaded with potential to be nurtured and developed over years.