Summertime Part II: When I Learned about Sex….

With the ending of summer, I decided to do a series of posts reflecting on what the summer months taught me, that my years in school never could. If you missed the first post in this series, you can read it by clicking here.

I can’t remember which summer it was that my Dad decided he needed to talk to me about sex. But I do remember a point in my life, just before I jumped into the rapids of puberty, when almost overnight the girls I played with went from being long-haired boys, to females, and eventually to women. Their eyes took on color, their faces took on structure; where once was a simple human form, now had curves and dimensions. It is a strange thing to go to bed one night with girl friends, and wake up the next day, surrounded by potential girlfriends.

Recognizing the times and the seasons, my parents decided to orchestrate “the talk” with me under the guise of a father-son fishing day. We woke up early on a Saturday, and made our way to the state park. After an hour or so of fishing, we put the poles back in the car, and decided to go for a hike. Ten minutes in, we found an outcropping of rocks overlooking a bend in the creek, and agreed to sit for a while. A few minutes passed with small observations about the creek and comments about the poor fishing. Finally my Dad began the conversation with the words, “so….you are getting older now….and….I wanted to talk with you for a few minutes about sex….”

RockCreek

For the next several minutes I sat and listened to Him talk, explain, warn, and define. It was an open and frank conversation filled with fascinating answers to questions I did not know to ask yet but certainly appreciated the heads up. It wasn’t that I needed him to tell me what sex was, as much as I needed him to fill in the gaping holes left from culture, television, church, and the discussions that went on in the back seat of the school bus. What I needed was someone to explain the framework, the context, the plan and purpose of sex. I needed to hear that it was a gift, and that every good gift has been given by God and meant to be enjoyed. That the physical and spiritual are inexplicably intertwined so that one will always affect the other.

As we talked it suddenly dawned on me the number of adult figures in my life I was convinced had already had sex – teachers at school, Sunday school teachers at church, my school bus driver with the missing front teeth, that man with the cane living two doors down who yelled at us for walking on his grass…..THE PASTOR AND HIS WIFE?!?!?

This is what summer is all about….discovery, rites of passage, insider information that suddenly changes your view of the world and reconciles in your mind what your body has already started telling you. I may have been educated during the school year, but I learned so much during the summer.

And just like that, the talk was over. We walked back down the trail, found our way to the car, and headed home. I felt older, as though I was on the inside of a secret society, possessing information that could be dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands. I walked past couples holding hands and I nodded to them, a smirk on my face, as if to say, “I know….I know….” At the time there was absolutely nothing more I could do with the information I had been given, but it was good to know and I was sure it would come in handy some day….like Monday in the conversation happening in the last seat of the school bus.

Advertisements

Letters to my Children: It should come with a warning….

Evan, Adeline, and Malina,100_5419

It happened again the other day. I was at home after a full day of work. We were in the basement playing and you (Evan) started calling my name. I had no idea that you had called my name several times earlier and finally gave up. But you really wanted me to play so you tried again. I wish I could say I heard you the first time, or the second, or the third. It wasn’t until you yelled my name that I looked up from my phone.

I was in the room but nowhere near any of you.  I was around but not fully present. In that moment I surrendered and allowed myself to be controlled by a device I carry in my back pocket.

Your face was a mixture of frustration and confusion, wondering what I was reading that was more important than the Lego Ninjago you were trying to assemble and needed help with.  It wasn’t until I saw your face that I wondered the same thing.

The technology I have in my life right now is amazing. The technology you will have when you are my age is hard to imagine. I am saying all of this to you three because I believe that for your generation, one of the greatest challenges to following Jesus, living in community with others and engaging the world will be to be fully present  — to God, to one another, and to others you will encounter in your life.

The more technology develops the more it seems to implant itself in the fabric of daily life. This is not a bad thing, but it should come with a warning….be present, engage people fully, quiet yourself before God. Nothing will be more important than being completely in the moment, lost in a conversation or an experience or great beauty….without distraction.

When it comes to responding to you or responding to the flashing green light on my hand-held device….may you never have to wonder who will win.

Love,

Your Dad.

Letter to My Children: Our Little Secret

This letter is a continuing series of blogs entitled, “Letters to My Children”. You can read my previous letter to my Son by clicking here or to my daughters by clicking here.

 

Dear Evan, Adeline, and Malina

I’m starting to realize that so much of what I plan to say to you involves things you will have to experience for yourself to fully understand. That’s the thing about life, a lot of what you need to know you can’t learn until you’ve lived through it. Only then can you look back with the wisdom you needed in the first place.  So I want to share with you a secret, knowing full well that you won’t understand what I am trying to say for many years to come.  This is a secret that some parents try to hide, afraid of what will happen if they let their children know. We figure you are going to find out eventually, so you might as well hear it from us.

We are human.

I see the way you depend on us, the way you look to us, and I know that to you there is nothing we do not know or can not do. Now I hear that in a few years, you will wake up one morning to discover we know very little about life, nothing about what you are going through, and therefore can offer no direction for your future, but that’s for another letter. Right now, I seem to know everything about anything. But there will come a time in the not so distant future, where you will begin to discover another side to your Mom and Dad. You will begin to see what I saw in my Mom and Dad….that we don’t always know (and many times we were making it up as we went along). One day you will realize that we have questions, we hurt, we mess up, and we get older. You’ll begin to see that we cannot save you, because just like you, we are in need of a Savior.

Now, the two people you thought were superheros as a child, appear a little more human than you are used to seeing.  This can be a shock at first, but eventually, it’s part of what makes you love them even more.

Some parents think that if their children knew this secret, they would lose respect for them….not look up to them anymore. But I know this is not what happens because this is not what happened to me with my Mom and Dad.  And what I’ve come to realize (and hope to pass on to you) is that my parents have not only lived real lives, but they have lived so much more life than I have.  Having already lived through so many of the ups and downs, they have so much wisdom now to share….if only I would listen.

Well, I fell better getting this little secret out there….I trust you will keep this between us.

Love,

Your Dad.