Points to Ponder: Green With Honesty

Points to Ponder
Green With Honesty

A few years ago, as St. Patrick's Day was approaching, one of our nightly devotional times with Elizabeth (5-6 years old then) led to a discussion of what they had learned at school about St. Patrick. As best as she could, she told me stories about this great Irish hero. He was a pastor, she said. He told people about God. Then Elizabeth said, with downcast face, "The people were very sad when he died." She kept repeating that, obviously deeply moved by this man's life and sacrifice. Then tears came to her eyes and she said it again, then added: "He was a pastor - like you, Daddy."
Wow. That common link between this larger-than-life hero of the past brought home to her the real price some people of faith have paid. Good people have suffered incredible losses for the sake of their calling to serve the Lord and to reach souls.
I like to tell her and other children at Christmas time that St. Nicholas (a.k.a. Santa Claus) was also a pastor (bishop). There are numerous stories of his exploits and amazing works for the sake of the poor and for children. The real St. Nicholas would make a far better role model than the mythical Santa Claus of today, but the economy thrives more on myths than on reality. I was in marketing in my former life; I know this.
So here was St. Patrick and the great stories Elizabeth had heard. The whole green theme of the season was pushed. And, of course, there have to be leprechauns, too. How this connects to St. Patrick I was never clear about; the green beer thing also eludes me. The uninitiated may combine all these themes and conclude that Patrick's favorite color was green and he was a bi-vocational pastor - bartender by night, pastor to the countryside by day. Also a great snake handler.
Anyway, I asked Elizabeth about the whole leprechaun thing. It was always kind of part of the whole season, but I never got any of this in school. Plus I didn't really care. No offense to the Irish (I happen to be part Irish), but such things just never drew my interest then.
So I asked her, "Are leprechauns good or bad?" She wasn't real sure but said, " . . . they made a lot of messes." "So they were good and bad," I said. "Kind of like children?" She said, "Yeah - like me."
Well, that was a memorable moment. I was impressed with how such a young child could be so self-aware. It's interesting that we can look at ourselves with a little honest humor - in between those times when this stuff gets really annoying. Perhaps she's a leprechaun. But I digress.
Maybe this comes from modeling. Marcella and I have no hesitancy about admitting our weaknesses to our children, apologizing for mistakes, and trying to make right the things we have done to offend them. Being human together, and real, I think allows our kids and ourselves some latitude - to be honest about who we are and what we're doing right and wrong. Confession and subsequent apologies come a little easier.
The whole thing about St. Patrick and the grief that was prevalent at his death brought this character of legend and storybooks into real life. He was a pastor, a much loved, good guy by most accounts. And he eventually died. Good guys, no matter how good, do die. Pastors and other "people of God" also eventually die. They're human. And so are parents, the local "heroes" who are most familiar to our kids.
I don't know where I'm going with all of this. I ponder things that come from the conversations I have with my girls. I often wonder what they ponder, how they are really thinking through some things. And most of all, am I helping that process or hindering it? Honesty is about the best thing I can bring. Also, often the most difficult,. I'm still learning and growing, still discovering things about the world and about myself. Though we had our kids later in life (many of our friends from our college days are putting their kids through college now), I am glad I had a few extra years to grow up a little. I'd hate to have afflicted my 24-year-old self onto my girls.
Well, so what? All of these ponderings came from a single conversation that eventually brought us back to the Bible, to talk about God and what life as God's child means. It is a piece of one moment out of the many moments like these which God's Word says we must be sure to share as a family:
"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship of Clear Spring, MD. These articles are also found at www.HilltopChristianFellowship.com.