–Haven Parrott, 2018
As a long-distance grandmother, I am extremely grateful for the technology that allows me to see my grandson in Honolulu on a daily basis. A recent video showed Kai determinedly rocking back and forth on his chubby hands and dimpled knees – not going anywhere, mind you – just rocking back and forth with great intensity. Subsequent videos showed more in-place rocking, numerous face-plantings, heroic but failed attempts to gain traction, and undaunted efforts to push himself up and try again. The struggle was real. And as Kai struggled, his parents provided an environment of encouragement, cheering his every move. The much-anticipated video finally arrived, and a proud, goofy grin spread across my face as I watched Kai crawl like a champ across the room from one parent to the other.
Of course, Kai’s developmental struggles have only just begun. He’ll struggle to stand, walk, run, ride a bike, etc, and his parents’ job at every stage will be to encourage him through the struggle, not protect him from it, for the struggle is necessary to the struggler’s freedom and dignity. Besides, you can’t do anyone else’s crawling, walking, living, or dying for them. Parents of adult and trying-to-adult children are often called upon to witness our children struggling in ways we are desperate to waive, if only we had the power. We long to take away or take on their struggles, only to find that such strategies prove ineffectual at best and crippling at worst.
As Advent dawns, I find myself pondering the mystery and wonder of the incarnation with fresh appreciation for God’s willingness to witness – not waive – Jesus’ struggles. God, the ultimate parent, and with unlimited power, elevated all human struggling by entrusting his son to the same reality. From cradleto cross, the Omnipotent’s self-imposed impotence to make life easier for Jesus lends dignity to our struggles, particularly the struggle to watch, not fix, as our children struggle.