July 27, 2012

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

God watches parents like we watch Olympic athletes

Sean GallagherBack in May, I watched online a well-done tribute to mothers produced by Proctor and Gamble. It ultimately focuses on athletes fictionally competing in the summer Olympics in London so you might keep an eye out for the spot when those games begin tonight.

The two-minute commercial begins quietly and slowly with mothers waking up their young children while it is still dark. The sounds get louder and the pace quickens as you see the mothers cooking breakfast, getting their children to school, washing, drying and folding their clothes, washing dishes and, in between, watching their child play sports.

The quick succession and repetition of the chores gives viewers a good feeling for what can often seem like the non-stop duties of parents.

Eventually, the children’s involvement with sports becomes the focus of the commercial, but the mothers are always there showing their support for their growing children.

Finally, you see the grown children achieving success in the Olympics. And the first person they want to share their joy with is—you guessed it—their mothers. The commercial then ends with the message, “The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world. Thank you, Mom.”

The commercial touched me because my oldest son, Michael, celebrated his 10th birthday on May 1. It was a great milestone for him, but also for his mother, Cindy, and me, too. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been a parent for 10 years.

Cindy has heroically endured much of the life of the mothers in that commercial—although I don’t foresee her or me getting the payoff of seeing our boys becoming Olympic athletes. I’ve experienced a good bit of it, too, just as many other fathers have in their hard work both in their jobs away from and at home.

I’ve shared some of the ups and downs, the laughter and the tears of the life of my family over the past decade in this column, which I began writing around the time of Michael’s birth in 2002.

But I’ve only scratched the surface. So much of what parents do is hidden. The world will never see it. Millions watch athletes compete in the Olympics. But all of the daily chores carried out faithfully by their parents is never beamed around the world on live TV and streamed live on the Internet.

While the world seems to value a record-breaking 100-meter dash or a perfect score in a gymnastics competition, God watches parents in their daily hidden grind with more intense love and devotion than any audience could ever have—even when they watch Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps break yet another world record and get another gold medal placed around his neck.

God watches us parents in this way, even if no one else does, because he’s a parent, too. He is our heavenly Father “from whom every family in heaven and Earth is named” (Eph 3:15).

Parents can so often feel alone as they face each day’s challenges. That’s true even in the best of two-parent households when the many duties split their attention away from each other—at least for some time. I can only imagine how difficult it would be for a single parent.

But even on those hard days when the chores go on well into the night and the only respite is lying down to sleep, our heavenly Father is right there at our sides, spiritually cheering us on and placing a crown of victory on our heads.

I don’t know what the next 10 years will bring in the life that Cindy and I share as parents. I certainly never could have predicted all that has happened in our lives over the past decade.

But I pray that Cindy, I and all other parents will remain faithful to the great dignity of our calling, always getting back up with the help of God’s grace after we have fallen in our duties. And I hope that we will always give thanks to him when, with his help, we have succeeded in some small measure in raising our children to be the good and holy men and women that God has created them to be. †

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