Driving home with Gareth and Elysia was good for me tonight. At times I find it hard to cope with these two energetic younglings, but tonight conversations with them in the car coming home from my mom’s place was what I needed.
Gareth’ is graduating from kindergarten first thing Saturday morning, and Elysia sacrificed her chicken dance at her own event to be with big brother! The dates for both events clashed since they aren’t in the same kindergarten.
Today, a strange feeling came to me . well not strange but a good feeling. I felt at least on the way driving home Gareth and Elysia spoke with me like friends . mini-friends but still friends. Thanks kids.
By the time I stepped into the room, Ewan was already sleeping (which is a good thing). He will be celebrating his one year old birthday on Sunday. How time flies. And how they grow so quickly. These pictures were taken exactly one month ago 🙂
We change too along the way. Sometimes maybe we might wonder whether we’ve changed for the better or for the worse. It’s hard to make immediate assessments when the spot light is shining back on us. Talking about other people seems easier. But the fact is people talk about us too.
I think at heart we hope to change for the better, there are bumps along the way, expectations unmet, overestimations, then there are also pleasant surprises too. More and more, the judgment of our histories is harder because of so many variables.
Will we ever have a “controlled” environment again? Will we ever have a “world” where patterns and trends are easier to predict and evaluate? Are we then left to our own devices and survive on our own?
If everything is up for grabs, how do we move forward and yet have some basic orientation and/or center to keep us from falling all the time into despair and disappointment?
Loads of questions these days with no easy answers.
What is needed are friends who come alongside us to discover the answers together. Friends in conversation, friends who are companions, friends along the journey.
I’ve always been intrigued by Brian Mclaren’s very helpful advice on being a friend to oneself. And he’s offered that advice even to president-elect Barack Obama. Tonight, as I slowly fall asleep that is my closing thought for the day. Some really good reminders that can be adapted to any one public office – any human being for that matter.
Abraham Lincoln said,
“I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.”
Being a friend to yourself will mean at least four things for you:
First and foremost, it will mean keeping your soul open and connected to God – through prayer, through worship, through fellowship, through confession of your sins and mistakes, through constant thanksgiving, and through a sustained humble attitude of dependence on God. If you seek God’s wisdom, will, and guidance first, you will lead with the same serenity and strength that have brought you this far.
Second, it will mean keeping your family life strong and healthy. Obviously, doing so will set a needed example for all fathers and families in our nation, but it will also be a gift to yourself, because you will only be president for four or eight years, but you will be husband to Michelle and father to Malia and Sasha forever. Pray with them. Have them pray for you. And laugh and play and cry with them too.
Third, it will mean having some “non-utilitarian” friends – soul-friends, if you will. You need a few wise and trusted people who don’t want or need anything from you, with whom you can be free and open, watch a ball game on TV, who can pray for you, listen to you, and tell you what they believe you need to hear not just as a president, but as a human being and child of God. Protecting that space for honest soul-friendship is one of the greatest things you can do as a friend to yourself.
Fourth, it will mean having space and time to breathe – to take a walk, to shoot some hoops, to share a few jokes, to unwind, to do things you enjoy. Some presidents have found that space at Camp David or at another private place, but wherever it is, I believe even a few minutes of solitude each day will be important for you as you seek to balance insight and perspective in challenging times.