My firstborn, my beloved son, my beautiful baby boy, my Ezekiel started Kindergarten this morning. As you can see from the picture above – he is going to do just fine. Me on the other hand… it’s going to be wait and see. On the outside I was holding all together – but inside I was an emotional train-wreck, and not just for the reasons you might expect. It’s a long story, so buckle up and let me explain.
I have been fairly open about my struggles with anxiety and post traumatic stress. If you scroll back through the pages of this site, you’ll find more than your fair share of posts influenced or directly about the struggles I have faced. One of my “symptoms” is referred to by clinicians as, “a fore-shortened sense of future.” In other words, I feel like I am going to die. At points throughout each day, I feel as though THIS day will be my last. My last day with my kids, my wife, my family, that I will not live to see all of the joys I desire for my future – I think you understand. The specific cause of my impending demise is not always clear, but sometimes my mind assures me that it will be of my own doing, which is a particularly cruel trick for someone who knows the unbearable grief of suicide all too well, and desires nothing but to live out his life to the fullest. All of this is important, I promise.
Last week, I had a bad week, but only because someone else had a worse one. At some point early in the week, I stumbled across a facebook post about a pastor in California who had taken his own life over the weekend. It hit very close to home. After a few minutes of digging I found as much information as I needed in order to send me into full blown obsessing mode. I discovered his wife is also a writer and is using her gift to help her express her feelings and manage her grief. Through her writings I met his three children, all young boys 5 and under, whose lives had just been rocked. I also found out a lot about the man himself, who was apparently an amazing husband, father and pastor. One like I would aspire to be. My heart was broken, and still is for them.
But why all this sadness in a post about my son’s first day of school? Well, because this too is how I process, share my thoughts, and the gifts that God has given me with my world, and I wanted to provide context to what comes next.
I am trying, very hard some days, to see things like today not as a last day but as a FIRST day. The FIRST day that Zeke takes steps towards becoming the young man God has created him to be. The FIRST day, of MANY that I will pick him up from school and ask about his day. The FIRST day he is big enough to hop into my car instead of me having to walk in and get him. And the FIRST day I got to remind him of just how much his mother and I love him, and how God is always with him when we dropped him off this morning. Today, was a great FIRST day.
For me, making first days great needs to be intentional, something I want to be better at, and something I believe God is calling me to. With that in mind, I am intentionally starting another FIRST with our family tonight. For years, I have struggled as a pastor with my fear of over-spiritualizing life for my kids. They are going to grow up pastors kids, and I just don’t want them to ever resent or be turned off by something that I think is so important for them. I have struggled in this area, and honestly, I probably should have done more, but we have an amazing church that they love to attend, which has helped out immensely. But starting tonight, and each night it’s possible, we are going to gather as a family, just the four of us, and pray together. Just talk to God about our fears, our friends, our family and our future – and do it together – for as long as we’re all living under one roof. It will be the first night of what I hope will be something special and powerful for our family. I know it won’t always be easy, fun or convenient – but I’m believing it WILL be worth it, and the first of many more firsts to come.
Today was a good day, a great FIRST day, even when it felt like a last day. A great first day, for my first born, and these first-time parents of a school aged boy. And tonight, when we pray, I will pray for that wife and her boys who lost their husband and daddy, I will pray that someday, when they can, they too can experience a great first day. And I will thank God for our family. I will thank God for all of the firsts we have already had, and for all the ones I know we will experience together in the future. If you think of it, maybe you could pray too – by yourself, with your spouse, or perhaps as a family – maybe even for the first time.